By: Shwetha Ganesh Prabhu
According to a ProPublica and Rhodium Group study, several California counties are facing challenges related to climate change.
The study provided several climate maps showing changes in temperatures, precipitation, wildfire frequency, humidity, sea level, and agricultural yields, leading to economic harm.
When it comes to heat, agricultural crop yields, wildfires, and economic damage, Pinal County faces significant challenges, earning it a No. 2 spot on the list.
Due to rising sea levels and humidity, the only other county that is more at risk than Pinal County in the report is Beaufort County, South Carolina.
The study ranks the counties in the following order:
Beaufort County, SC
Pinal County, AZ
St. Martin Parish, LA
Colleton County, SC
Wakulla County, FL
Assumption Parish, LA
Jefferson Davis Parish, LA
Livingston Parish, LA
St. John the Baptist Parish, LA
Jackson County, MS
Los Angeles makes the majority of this list, with 5 out of 10 counties in the list being from LA. The glamorous city is known for its warm temperature, and it’s only getting warmer. A few years ago, a Washington Post study found that average annual temperatures in Los Angeles County increased by 2.3 degrees Celsius, or 4.1 degrees Fahrenheit, between 1895 and 2018.
"One of the things that stands out in the Southwest, which I think we already know, is the heat being the overriding risk," Dr. Michael Crimmins, a University of Arizona Applied Climatology Professor, said. "It's getting warmer, it's largely attributable to climate change, and it's something we're going to have to deal with in the near future."
In the past summer, California has broken numerous records. Even typically cool places, such as the Bay Area, were subject to the stifling heat waves that hit California in August.
The study projects that rising temperatures will only become more common, threatening the development of agriculture in the state.
What Can Californians Do?
People in the state and around the nation have had to face various problems at an individual level during 2020: an international pandemic, civil strife, and economic downturns, just to name a few. It could be daunting or even hard for many to add climate change fears to their plate.
But the truth is most of the problems we’ve been facing this year are interconnected. An example of this can be found in a Harvard report from earlier this year, which show that regions with elevated air pollution levels and poor air quality, such as minority populations and low-income communities, were more likely to die with COVID-19 because of pre-existing conditions (environment, economic status, race, and disease).
All the problems we are facing today are also environmental problems.
Al Shaw, Abrahm Lustgarten. “New Climate Maps Show a Transformed United States.” ProPublica, 15 Sept. 2020, projects.propublica.org/climate-migration/.
Bassler, Author: Hunter. “6 Arizona Counties May Be Uninhabitable in next 30 Years Due to Climate Change, Study Shows.” Kiiitv.com, 15 Dec. 2020, www.kiiitv.com/article/weather/six-arizona-counties-at-high-risk-of-being-uninhabitable-by-2040-due-to-climate-change-rhodium-group-study-shows-pinal-graham-cochise-maricopa-yuma/75-24d65d75-00fc-4007-ae4c-2aa4e15c1550.
Bob McGovern, et al. “Study: Pinal Is 2nd Most at-Risk U.S. County for Being Uninhabitable.” InMaricopa, 19 Dec. 2020, www.inmaricopa.com/climate-change-study-pinal-county-inhabitable-risk/.
ProPublica, et al. “Massive Shifts of Life Seen in Future Climate Maps.” Greenhouse Grower, 27 Dec. 2020, www.greenhousegrower.com/management/massive-shifts-of-life-seen-in-future-climate-maps/.