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Which U.S. States Will Be Most Affected By Climate Change?

30 June 2017, 6:33 pm EDT By Eric Brackett Tech Times
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Climate change will affect everyone, but a new study shows that some U.S. states will be hit harder than others.

A recently released study, which was published in the journal Science, takes a look at the economic effects of climate change and argues that the southern states will be the ones most affected by rising temperatures.

This study estimates that for every 1.8-degree increase in temperature, the U.S. economy's GDP will decrease by 1.2 percent, but this burden won't be shared equally. In fact, some parts of the country might even see a slight economic benefit from climate change.

Climate Change At The Local Level

In terms of the economic impact of climate change, the study will affect the southern parts of the country worse than the north. While there have been several studies of this type before, this is one of the first to focus on the effects climate change would have on the local and county level. This kind of data can help local governments better prepare to deal with the changing environment.

This study looks at six different factors which affect the economy — temperature, rainfall, the effect of carbon dioxide on agriculture, mortality, crime, and labor and energy demand — and then examines the effect climate change would have on those factors at the county level. Unsurprisingly, areas that rely heavily on farming or the gathering of resources, such as timber, will be hit the hardest by climate change.

It's no secret that large parts of the south rely on natural resources and farming in order to make a living. If temperatures get too high to produce crops or livestock starts dying off from heat stroke, then the farming communities could be severely compromised.

Beyond that, even if the effects of climate change were spread evenly across the United States, the impact would still be worse for the southern states. As the study points out, there's no escaping the fact that the South is simply poorer than the northern states, which means the effects of lost jobs will be felt more keenly.

"...And it's not possible to talk about that without pointing out that the South is a lot poorer, so an extra dollar that's lost from the South because any of these factors isn't the same as a dollar that might be gained in the North of the United States," said one of the study's authors. "It hurts people more. What we were able to see is that climate change is going to widen income inequality; it's going to make it more difficult for areas in the South to provide for their citizens' education and jobs and wellbeing across the board."

Climate Change Could Crash The Insurance Industry

One of the industries that is most worried about climate change is the insurance industry. The entire industry is built on predictions. If a person is perceived as a health risk then they'll pay more for health insurance than someone who is considered healthy. The same principle applies to something like flood insurance. If someone lives in an area that is more prone to flooding then that person will be paying more than someone who doesn't. The problem is that climate change makes it difficult to predict when flooding will occur which could mess up the industry.

Such a problem could even apply to something like life insurance. The life insurance industry has tons of data on mortality rates which is part of the way in which they estimate a person's policy. Climate change has the potential to wreak havoc on those models. For example, rising heat waves could lead to unexpected deaths which could, theoretically, force insurers to stop offering policies to people living in those areas.

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Eric Brackett Tech Times editor Eric Brackett is a tech junkie and a gamer, covering science and technology. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter for updates and his random thoughts on the latest trends in gaming, tech, and comic books.

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