A new report from the Risky Business Project, an organization dedicated to exploring the economic risks of climate change in the United States, claims that in the United States, the hardest impact of climate change will be felt in the Southeastern states and Texas. This looming threat could jeopardize the recent economic boom in the region due to increased manufacturing, and the growth of the energy industry.
The first great threat mentioned is heat. Though the region is known for its heat and humidity, the report predicts that by the end of the century, extremely hot weather will become almost 14 times more frequent, with daily temperatures of over 95 degrees happening up to 123 days per year (compared to the current average of 9 days per year). In 1995, a Chicago heat wave caused more than 700 deaths. By the end of the century, Florida may experience as any as 24 days per year that match the conditions of that infamous heat wave.
In response to these dramatic rising temperatures, energy use will skyrocket as well as residents struggle to keep their homes and businesses comfortable during the blazing summers. In turn, energy companies will raise their rates to match the rising demand, bringing potentially 38% rate hikes across the region.
In terms of sea level rise, Louisiana and Florida will be hit the hardest. Louisiana stands to lose about $20 billion in coastal property by 2030, rising to about $40 billion by 2050. Florida stands to lose around $10 billion in property by 2030 and $18 billion by 2050. These figures are based on conservative estimates of sea level rise (typically about a meter by 2100), but some studies say that sea levels could rise by as much as six meters (20 feet) by 2100, in which case Florida and Louisiana will face astronomical costs.
Lastly, the Southeastern economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, whether it is citrus and sugarcane in Florida and Louisiana, livestock in Alabama and Mississippi, or fruit, nuts and chickens in Georgia, higher seas and temperatures will cause farmers and ranchers a lot of trouble in the coming century. Corn, soy and wheat yields could decrease by as much as 32% in some regions.
If this report’s findings are accurate, the South has even more stake in stopping climate change than the rest of the US. Stopping climate change may be a battle for the physical and economic survival of the southern United States.