Those well-know climate radicals at the Risky Business Project, including former New York City mayor and founder of Bloomberg, L.P., Michael Bloomberg, former Secretary of the Treasury and former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Hank Paulson, and former Secretary of State George Schultz, have just issued a new report about the projected impacts of climate change on the Southeast United States and Texas. This report includes projections about Kentucky, that well-known island of climate change invulnerability. The Project “…focuses on quantifying and publicizing the economic risks from the impacts of a changing climate.”
In the latest of a series of climate change regional impact reports, the report on the Southeast and Texas projects ominous regional and state impacts if we stay on current emissions paths. Among its findings:
- The Southeast and Texas will experience by the end of the century dangerous levels of extreme heat. For instance, the average Arkansas citizen will likely experience between 65 and 135 days above 95 degrees, more than the average citizen of Arizona currently experiences.
- There will be large-scale losses and damage to coastal property, in the tens of billions of dollars, by 2050, with substantial impacts experienced by the year 2030. Louisiana and Florida will be most impacted, with rising sea levels and hurricanes and coastal storms interacting with rising sea levels accounting for much of the losses. Charleston, South Carolina will experience a mean sea level rise of 0.9 to 1.4 feet by 2050 and of 2.1 to 3.8 feet by the end of the century. Get your dose of low country cuisine now.
- Several major Southeast commodity crops, including corn and soybean, will see steep declines in yields, beginning over the next five to twenty-five years.
So, how about we take a peek into the report’s projections for the Commonwealth? Some of the reports findings are:
- By 2020-2039, the number of days above 95 degrees is likely to reach up to 23 such days and then reach up to 44 days per year by mid-century—more extreme heat than Texas experiences today. This rise in temperature will have substantial effects on crop yields including our most valuable commodities, corn and soybeans. Climate changes will also impact labor productivity, and energy costs.
- Our most valuable crops, corn and soybeans, are projected to have the third highest yield losses in the nation due to climate change. The report states,
Absent significant agricultural adaptation, state corn yields will likely decrease by up to 22% by 2020-2039 and by up to 47% in the following 20 years. Soybeans, the state’s most valuable crop, will likely see crop yield declines of up to 13% by 2020-2039 and by up to 29% by 2040-2059.
- Rising electricity demand due to climate changes are likely to increase energy expenditures in the state by 5% over the next twenty years and by 9% by 2040-2059.
Kentucky’s political leaders, in thrall to coal and other related interests, continue to rail against the Obama administration’s assertive steps to confront the threat of climate change. Sacrificing the future well-being of citizens of the state to maintain power in the present is a failure of leadership of the first magnitude.