The Yahoo News series looks at climate change risks in different regions of the country and how they will change in the future.
As the negative consequences of rising global temperatures due to humankind's relentless burning of fossil fuels become more and more apparent in communities across the United States, anxiety over finding a place to live safe from the ravages of Climate Change has also been on the rise.
Millions of Americans will move because of climate change by the end of the century, according to a professor. Climate is one of the many drivers and I think it is a good idea to think about that.
According to a report by the United Nations, global temperatures are on track to warm by at least 2.1 by the year 2200. There will be a rise in extreme weather events. That increase is already occurring. According to a draft report of the latest National Climate Assessment, they happen every three weeks thanks to rising temperatures.
Climate risk is dependent on a number of factors, including luck, latitude, elevation, the upkeep of infrastructure, long-term climate patterns, and how warming ocean waters will affect the frequencies of El Nio/La Nia cycles.
Climate change impacts will be severe in the continental United States and throughout the U.S. In some places they will be more severe and in other places they will be less severe. We all share the risk of the increase of extreme events, but certain places will be more moderate.
In this part, we look at a region that is fast being overtaken by hot temperatures, a worsening dry spell and an increased threat from the forest fires.
The Southwest region of the United States is made up of California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.
The Department of the Interior announced water rationing measures to states that rely on supplies from the Colorado River in the midst of a mega-dry spell. 40 million people get water from the Colorado's river system, which is changing due to rising temperatures.
Half of the decline in the average flow of the Colorado River is due to rising temperatures, according to the Nature Conservancy. River flows could be reduced by as much as 40% due to rising temperatures in the basin.
Scientists have shown that climate change makes the problem worse.
A UCLA climate scientist told Yahoo News that 40% of the Southwest's severity can be attributed to warming temperatures.
The Environmental Protection Agency says that the Southwest is the hottest and driest region in the country and that rising temperatures stress water resources and increase the risk of fires.
According to a report released this spring, employees of the U.S. Forest Service underestimated the impact of climate change on the Southwest when they tried a controlled burn. The largest conflagration in the state's recorded history was caused by that mistake.
Some homeowners in New Mexico have faced a rude awakening when it comes to insuring their properties because of the effect climate change is having on the state.
The New Mexico Attorney General is worried that the natural disasters will raise premiums or that we will be in a crisis like Florida where insurance providers don't want to come to New Mexico.
Since 1970, the average summer temperature in Phoenix has risen by 3.8 degrees. Climate models predict that the average will rise by an additional 10 degrees by the year 2200, bringing the average summer temperature to 114 degrees F.
Prolonged exposure to such high temperatures is dangerous to human health, and southwestern cities have had no choice but to create new government positions to cope with the reality. Los Angeles hired a "chief heat officer" to come up with a plan to reduce heat- related hospitalizations and deaths. It remains to be seen if changing building codes and coating roads will help achieve the goal of an Office of Heat Response and Mitigation in Phoenix.
The Southwest can expect the highest increase in annual deaths due to extreme heat in the country if greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current path. The estimate may be woefully conservative given the rising problem of homelessness.
The number of deaths attributed to heat in the state of Arizona has increased by 45% since the beginning of the year. In the last two years, the county has set new heat death records, with more than 300 people dying in Phoenix.
The Southwest is a better place to live when it comes to climate change risks. The truth is that the factors can be boiled down to a matter of personal preference.
What are your biggest fears? What are you trying to avoid? "I don't think I'd live in a heavily wooded canyon in the American West for wildfire reasons." I don't think I'd be able to sleep at night because of the risks.
According to a 2020 analysis published by ProPublica and the New York Times, all of the Southwest's top 10 safest-rated counties are located in Colorado.
Each county was rated on the impact climate change would have on them based on six categories: heat stress, the combination of heat and humidity, crop loss, sea level rise, and overall economic damage. Fires were the biggest vulnerability for the top-rated Colorado counties.
Due to a combination of poor scores on categories such as heat stress, wet bulb, crop loss and very large fires, 6 of the 10 southwestern countries that ranked worst are in Arizona. California accounted for 4 of the Southwest's lowest ranked counties.
Insurance companies in the Southwest are rethinking whether to offer coverage for homes located in areas with elevated wildfire risk, but the risks extend beyond the structures and lives inside of burn zones. After years of dealing with heavy wildfire smoke for weeks on end in heavily populated California cities such as Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento, several new scientific studies were released documenting the adverse health effects.
During the 2020 California wildfire season, my team found a lot of abnormal, activated immune cells in the peripheral blood of healthy individuals. The cells are normally responsible for protecting against inflammation and infections, but when altered by wildfire smoke, they become the ones promoting inflammation.
While the biggest dangers from wildfire smoke are for people who are closest to it, as wildfires have grown in size and Frequency thanks to Climate Change, dangerous smoke from them has become increasingly common in other states.
Residents are introduced to websites that rate air quality when they stay on top of the evolving risks. Climate change has a number of threats it promises to unleash.
A study co-authored by Swain found that rising temperatures have doubled the risk of a catastrophic megaflood that could transform low-lying areas of the state into a vast inland sea and rack up trillions of dollars in losses.
Extreme flooding is one of the biggest risks of a warming climate, but most people in California don't think about it. One of the biggest risks in California is that.
The Southwest can expect a chaotic future in which one extreme replaces another as a result of climate change, according to experts.
There is a change in the climate. We are not approaching a new normal because what used to be normal is not anymore. The Santa Barbara Independent quoted a climate scientist as saying. We are entering a period of rapid, unstable changes.
There are no guarantees in areas that do well. The Marshall Fire of 2021, which erupted in Boulder County, Colo., after an especially dry autumn, was caused by a lack of snow. During the Camp Fire in California, a grass fire fed by wind gusts of 115 miles per hour advanced at a frightening rate of a football field per second. It was the most destructive wildfire in the state's recorded history, destroying more than 1,000 homes and costing $1 billion in insurance.
This is personal. In Colorado, climate anxiety is front and center, according to a therapist who works in a small mountain town. The forests are dying fast. It isn't cold enough to kill the bugs in the pines. There are a lot of dead trees that give fuel to the fires.
As the Southwest shows, as temperatures continue to rise, so do the number and scope of climate change risk factors.
In many places, we are missing some of the biggest risks. How good are these assessments if they haven't been very circumspect about what dragons could be?
Local officials are presented with difficult choices due to risk factors. The city of San Francisco commissioned a report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to figure out how to protect the city from rising sea levels.
The city could see 7 feet of sea level rise by the year 2200 if global temperatures continue to rise and the melt of the polar ice caps continues. Because of the 8 inches of sea level rise San Francisco has recorded since the start of the Industrial Revolution, many neighborhoods are prone to flooding.
The report on how to save those homes and businesses won't be finished until October.