The nation’s economy, public health, infrastructure, and natural resources face an immediate and continued threat from climate change impacts, warns the comprehensive 4th National Climate Assessment (NCA4) released last Friday.
The report is broken down into chapters on sectors such as water, energy, land use, forestry, coastal effects, marine resources, and more. There are regional reports that look at how different geographic areas of the U.S. stand to be impacted. You can download the various chapters here or interact with the report online at https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/.
The Southeast United States executive summary has 4 key take home messages for you.
- Many southeastern cities are increasingly at risk due to heat, flooding, and vector-borne disease brought about by the changing climate.
- The combined effects of extreme rainfall events and sea level rise are already increasing flood frequencies, which impacts property values and infrastructure viability, particularly in coastal cities.
- Changing winter temperature extremes, wildfire patterns, sea levels, hurricanes, floods, droughts, and warming ocean temperatures are expected to redistribute species and greatly modify ecosystems.
- Rural communities are integral to the Southeast’s cultural heritage and to the strong agricultural and forest products industries across the region. Climate changes will negatively impact the region’s labor-intensive agricultural industry and compound existing social stresses in rural areas.
Dr. Andrea Dutton, UF Associate Professor of Geology, spoke to David Greene on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition earlier this week. “Regional economies and industries that depend on natural resources or a favorable climate such as agriculture, tourism or fisheries – they would be the most vulnerable to the growing impacts of climate change and the cost could reach hundreds of billions of dollars annually just in some sectors alone,” said Dutton.
The NCA4 cites that many of these southeastern U.S. urban areas are rapidly growing. As such, there are opportunities for communities to integrate appropriate adaptation efforts into their development and redevelopment strategies to prevent future negative impacts of climate change.
Dutton remains optimistic. “People see this as a black-and-white issue. Either we, you know, completely solve the problem, or it’s a complete doomsday. And that’s not true at all. Basically, the message is that the sooner that we fix it, the better, and the faster that we reduce those emissions, the less we risk and the cheaper the adaptation will be.”
For Dr. Dutton’s full interview click here.