By Anna Kuchment
The United States has just come off a record year for weather and climate disasters and, by most accounts, it’s only going to get worse.
Last year hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria; the wildfires and floods in California; and tornado outbreaks in the Midwest and the South delivered $306.2 billion in damages, more than any year in history when adjusted for inflation.
Texas is particularly vulnerable to a changing climate. It has had more costly weather-related disasters than any other state, and those events will happen more often as air and ocean temperatures climb, scientists say.
The Dallas area warmed twice as fast as the North Texas region as a whole due to urbanization combined with long-term warming, said John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas’ state climatologist and a professor at Texas A&M University.
Rapid development in Dallas accelerates the so-called “urban heat island” effect. Man-made building materials absorb and lock in more heat than soil and natural landscapes, so urban areas are generally warmer than rural areas, especially after sunset.
While some northern areas stand to benefit from warmer weather, that is not the case for Dallas-Fort Worth. “North Texas and a lot of the southern United States are quite close to thresholds where things get really bad,” said Amir Jina of the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy.
Earlier this year, he and colleagues published a study in the journal Science that estimated economic damage from climate change in each county of the U.S.
Once temperatures reach the high 90s, equal to or above body temperature, fatality rates go up.
And Jina’s study predicts 24 extra deaths per 100,000 people each year in Dallas County by the end of the century if global emissions increase at the same rate they have been. That would be 600 extra deaths per year at the county’s 2015 population level.
Continue reading at The Dallas Morning News…