Report: Southern U.S. could suffer most from climate change

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The impacts of climate change have been studied for decades now. But a first of its kind study on local impacts in the U.S. is painting an unpleasant picture for some. The study conducted by researchers with the group Climate Impact Lab finds the southern part of the country will suffer most from climate change.

Scott Curtis, an atmospheric science professor at ECU, weighs in: “If you look at the South, the Southeast, we have a lot more, in terms of relative value, we have a lot more poorer counties than other areas of the United States.”

The South is not only more vulnerable economically but also because of the climate already in place.

“The South already has a very warm climate and so as we increase the temperatures, the possibility of heat exhaustion and high heat index values are going to hit the Southeast first before they’re going to hit the Northeast,” said Curtis.

And with such a wide ranging landscape, rural farmlands to towns and cities to the coast, some of these impacts will likely be felt in the East too.

The study estimates that many counties in the East could see a 5% to 10% drop in gross domestic product by the turn of the next century.

“The Southeast has more billion dollar disasters than any other areas in the country,” added Curtis.

And with a growing threat for more extreme weather like floods, heat waves, and hurricanes, it’s a cost that for some could prove too much to bear.

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