Warming temperatures and changing rainfall patterns across the United States are set to drastically alter where and how Americans live and how we get our food.
While much of the Midwest, Southeast, and Desert West could become nearly uninhabitable by 2040, nearly all of New England is marked as safe, along with more than half of the state of North Dakota.
In fact, North Dakota is expected to benefit from warming temperatures, which will expand the state’s corn and soy production.
Other states weren’t so lucky, however. Growing food will become more difficult in the High Plains region, which currently boasts a $35 billion agriculture industry. And parts of Texas and Oklahoma could see their yields drop by more than 70%.
Some of the most affected counties are in the Southeast, such as Beaufort County, South Carolina, and St. Martin Parish, Louisiana. This is mainly due to increased heat and what scientists call a “wet bulb,” or the combination of high heat and humidity that can make it nearly impossible to safely spend time outside.
“Today, the combination of truly dangerous heat and humidity is rare,” the report states. “But by 2050, parts of the Midwest and Louisiana could see conditions that make it difficult for the human body to cool itself for nearly one out of every 20 days in the year.”
In addition to making day-to-day life more cumbersome and decreasing crop yields in agriculture-dependent states, increases in temperatures across the U.S. are also projected to lead to rising energy costs, lower labor productivity, and increased crime.
The economic toll is expected to hit the coastal Southeast hard. Rural areas of the Southeast have a particularly dire outlook — for instance, Gulf County, Florida, could lose half of its economy.
Though much of New England is expected to stay in the “safe zone,” according to the map, one Reddit user comments, “New England is definitely warming. But I guess it was cold enough at the beginning to have less impact from it.”
This led to a discussion of the possible impacts on the maple syrup industry, which is expected to decline substantially in New England as it shifts northward.
“It’s a good time to be in Canada,” another jokes.
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