The Geography of Climate Change: not all places are equal

As long as climate change remains a distant boogieman that will happen to them, to someone else, someplace else, we’re trapped in a vague abstraction.  As I’ve reflected on what Elodie Blanc and Erwan Monier (listen to “Climate, Food Security and Water: podcast here) told us a few months ago - namely, that soils, water and crop yields will actually be better in some places, worse in others - I’ve wondered how the geography of climate change plays in public discussions about what to do.

Matthew Shaer in his recent New Republic article, States of Denial, has given us a sense of the ironies and even contradictions on the ground in places very likely to experience significant economic losses (particularly in the US South and Southwest), while others (US North) may even see gains.

A new study in Science (Estimating economic damage from climate change in the United States) quantified a starkly inconvenient truth: Climate change is going to hit some parts of America far harder than others. By 2099, according to the study, 601 counties could lose at least 10 percent of their GDP to global warming through loss of jobs, soaring energy costs, and rising mortality rates. In a cruel twist, the counties marked as deep-red hot spots for climate damage are also the reddest when it comes to politics: All but 107 of them voted for Trump over Clinton. One of the hardest hit will be Levy County, Florida, where climate-related deaths are projected to rise eight times faster than the national average.

Shaer makes visible the face of climate denial - in the form of the Cycle Theory, repeatedly cited by those he visited in Levy County, Florida, as a reason not to worry - since “what gets worse also gets better, eventually.” Citations from academic journals don’t hold water with them - - - but then, what would?  [I welcome your thoughts on that!]

What’s the geography of climate change where you live?  What will be the distribution of benefits and burdens in your area - by place, by gender, by race, by income...?  Do these come with ironies, political or otherwise?

* Cover graphic for this post (as well as 3rd paragraph above) taken from New Republic, November, 2017.


Rick Shankman's picture

“As long as climate change

“As long as climate change [and the people behind it] remains a distant boogieman that will happen to them, to someone elsesomeplace else, we’re trapped in a vague abstraction.”

Yep Dave, I couldn’t agree more.

“NALCO Environmental Solutions LLC...

COREXIT Technology

COREXIT dispersants and shoreline cleaners effectively protect the environment by degrading a wide range of crude oil and petroleum products.“


Then see...

2011 MIT Sustainability Summit Program - Friday 22 April 2011 @ 10:45 AM

Bending the Water Cost Curve: Innovations to Avert Water Crisis

Inspired by the famous ‘Water cost curves’ in the 2030 Water Resources Group’s ‘Charting Our Water Future’ report, this panel will highlight businesses that are capitalizing on opportunities to mitigate future water supply-demand imbalances.  Panelists will discuss the solutions their firms have developed to reduce agricultural, industrial or municipal water demand and/or increasing water supply.

... Emilio Tenuta, Director of Corporate Responsibility and Branding, NALCO.”

BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion: April 20, 2010.

Almost one year later (to the day) after the BP Deepwater Horizon explodes in the Gulf of Mexico and BP begins spraying NALCO COREXIT (9500 and 9527) into the air and water, MIT hosts the manufacturer’s (parent company) “Vice President of Corporate Sustainability” to talk about corporate strategies to protect future supplies of clean water.

Obviously, MIT is indeed “trapped in a vague abstraction.”

Rick Shankman's picture

This is probably a little

This is probably a little more complicated than you think.

If you want to talk environmental problems on the Gulf Coast of Florida, I have two words for you... BP and COREXIT.

Maybe the MIT 2018 Australian Boot Camp participants (on their way to the Great Barrier Reef) can watch the 60 Minutes - Australia video (linked above) before they fly down under.

p.s. If Ben Depp of the New Republic is going to take a picture of Demory Gap while Matthew Shaer is talking environmental damage in Levy County, the least he could do is not face the camera towards the Crystal River Coal & Nuclear Power Plant, owned by MITEI Member Duke Energy.