The Southeast Faces a No-Win Climate Scenario

A new analysis shows that almost every coastal city in this climate change skeptical region faces a slow apocalypse in coming years.

It’s no surprise Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis reportedly wants to move to Washington, DC, where the impacts of climate change are less immediate. Chances are very good that Florida as we know it won’t be a nice place to live in a few years. But neither will many parts of Louisiana, South Carolina coast, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and the North Carolina coast.

This is the conclusion reached by new research compiled by Yahoo News, which points out that: “According to a 2020 analysis published by ProPublica and the New York Times of findings provided by the Rhodium Group, the Southeast is home to nine of the 10 worst-ranked counties overall in the U.S. in terms of combined climate change risks.

“The analysis included six major categories — heat stress, the combination of heat and humidity (wet bulb), crop loss, very large fires, sea level rise and economic damages — and rated each county on the impact climate change would have on it given two emissions scenarios: high and moderate.”

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The data shows that storms will continue to become more common and more intense over the next 25 years and beyond, to the point where many coastal regions will simply become uninhabitable. The growing strain is already tearing apart the insurance industry in Florida, and the impacts from Hurricane Ian have people once again considering the idea of “not building back.” But we also know most people don’t want to leave an area, even when their housing is flattened, so the matter is painful, and far from settled.

Just this week, Nicole served up an unheard of November hurricane on the East Coast of Florida. Houses tumbled into the sea, and Daytona beach looked like a war zone. Experts predict that tropical disturbances will double in frequency by 2050, and Florida will be slammed again and again.

That Sinking Feeling

Other effects will also negatively impact people living in coastal regions. In Tampa, as sea levels rise in the Gulf, for example, salt water is infiltrating ground water, making it harder to obtain good drinking water. In Louisiana, the land is actually sinking at the same time seas are rising.

Then there’s the extra challenge of bridge and road maintenance and repair. This becomes an unsustainable cost for municipalities forced to do major repairs every year.

So what’s to be done? Some places are trying to build walls and pump sea water back into the sea, such as Miami. But do we really believe that will be effective for long?

One problem with any effort to get the public on board with measures to slow Climate Change is the partisan divide, although the gap is shrinking. As recently as 2021, for example, the percent of republicans in Southwest Florida, the area devastated by Hurricane Ian, who believe climate change is a more serious threat than economic issues dropped by 10 percent.

The issue is more complicated by the fact that people of different political parties see the cause of the change differently.

According to WGCU, “Republicans who believe climate change is happening are far more likely to say it’s due to natural causes, and only 35% believe individual efforts can reduce the pollution causing climate change. Democrats who believe climate change is happening are far more likely to say it’s due to manmade causes. 89% believe individual efforts can reduce the pollution causing climate change.”

So even if you now have 90 percent of Floridians now believing that the climate is indeed changing, there’s little consensus about what to do about it. Result: a slide back into the ocean that will rapidify in coming years.

So to play it safe, it may be prudent to run. So run, Ron. Get out of Florida as fast as you can before the fingers start to point at you. Mar-a-Lago may soon slide into the depths, along with the homes of millions of sun-worshippers. They may be looking around for someone to blame, other than themselves.