Climate Change is Bankrupting Small Towns
One such small town is Fair Bluff, N.C., on the brink of bankruptcy, due to the effects of climate change. The article discusses the impact of climate change on the town's agricultural industry, residential and commercial property, and infrastructure. It also highlights the ramifications of climate change on tourism and the economy. As we continue to face more extreme weather events, the risk of small towns going under is higher than ever.
Fair Bluff, N.C., on the brink of bankruptcy
Climate change has caused many small rural communities to face financial ruin. Climate shocks cause residents to leave, shrinking tax bases and making basic services harder to fund. This phenomenon is becoming increasingly common, with Fair Bluff, N.C., on the verge of bankruptcy. However, the town is not helpless — it can repopulate itself within a decade or so if no major storm strikes.
Several decades ago, Fair Bluff was bustling with activity. But now, it's barely recognizable. Most of its downtown businesses have been demolished, and the U.S. Post Office is the only one remaining. Leonard, who splits her time between Fair Bluff and four other towns, said that the town has a hopeful plan: to tear down some of its burned-out stores, turn the vacant land into a park and create a new downtown several blocks east. The town's median household income is $20,000, and most of its residents are retired.
The government is helping to save the town. It is paying for the demolition of 34 houses, as well as the purchase of land for rebuilding. But the rules for such purchases stipulate that no new homes will be built on the land, and that the town will not add the land to its real estate tax rolls. While these actions may protect people from flooding, they make the town less viable and more vulnerable.
The city is divided on the issue of coastal erosion. Residents brag about their years in residence and the number of feet above sea level. And outbursts during council meetings are commonplace - though they depend on who is more angry. One of the main enemies is the city itself, the real estate industry and the California Coastal Commission. The town is now suing the oil companies for the costs of coastal flooding.
Impacts of climate change on infrastructure
To address the issue of climate change, smaller towns and cities must be prepared to take on the challenge. The conservative core of America is concentrated in small towns and cities throughout the country, making them difficult to reach on the issue of climate change. Many Republicans are adamant that global warming is not real. But there is an important difference between adaptation and resilience to the changing climate. While adaptation is a proactive response, resilience is a reactive response.
Currently, nine of the ten countries are affected by climate change. Pro-active adaptation efforts are expected to reduce fiscal costs and improve connectivity rates by 2025. Yet these efforts are likely to be insufficient. In low-income countries, roads serve as an essential link between cities and the countryside, and are essential for economic and agricultural activities. Roads also provide indirect benefits, such as access to credit, education, and political participation. However, many roads are sparse in many rural and small towns. The extreme weather events that can cause damage to roads also reduce their lifespan.
Large cities, such as Los Angeles and New York, have significant climate-related risks. Rising global temperatures result in a rise in sea level, increased extreme weather events, and the spread of tropical diseases. These impacts disproportionately affect low-income and low-education groups, women, and communities of color. Adaptation plans should include these groups to mitigate the effects of climate change on infrastructure. The global costs of climate change are estimated at five percent of the global GDP.
Climate-related changes to small towns have the potential to affect key infrastructure. For example, the transportation infrastructure contributes to the climate-related changes we see today. Roads and airports alone account for 23 percent of all CO2 emissions. As such, these factors may affect a town's water supply, water pollution, and distribution systems. In addition to weather-related changes, climate-related changes may affect the quality and availability of its water supply.
Impacts of climate change on agriculture
The changing climate is affecting many aspects of agriculture, including the quality of crop yields. The amount of precipitation and temperature changes are also changing, which could affect the frequency of drought and the overall quality of crop production. Increasing temperatures may also lead to shorter growing seasons and longer, hotter, drier summers. In addition, the changing precipitation patterns may affect the availability of quality forage for livestock. Farmers in all regions will likely see changes to crops, as temperatures rise and rainfall patterns change.
Although the study of climate change has focused primarily on general impacts, many of these findings may apply to other types of agricultural systems. For instance, increased frequency of extreme events may negatively affect crop yields, reducing incentives to cultivate. However, other impacts of climate change will also affect the various forms of environmental degradation. This is why there is a need for more empirical research and the identification of adaptive measures.
Despite the increasing number of adverse effects of climate change, it is important to recognize that many people depend on secondary nonfarm livelihood strategies. In addition to agriculture, other secondary nonfarm strategies are crucial for many rural residents. One such strategy is tourism. The impact of climate change on tourism in developing countries is already having an effect on these industries. Achieving this goal requires improved data on climate change and agricultural practices.
Small farms and rural communities face several complex stressors that threaten the sustainability of farming. In many cases, these rural communities are already diversifying away from agriculture in favor of nonfarm activities. In fact, these nonfarm activities account for 30-50% of rural income in many developing countries. As a result, the introduction of tractors, tillers, and other mechanized equipment will increase productivity for families. In Zambia, many small-scale farmers still use manual equipment to seed, weed, and harvest their crops. Back-breaking labour leads to spinal injuries and premature ageing.
The impacts of climate change on agricultural production will also affect livestock and crops. As summer heat intensifies, the conditions for farming will become dangerous and grueling, and these farmers will become dependent on government-funded supports and other rural infrastructure to survive. Agricultural impacts on water resources will also become worse. Water resources will be depleted, and farmers will be less profitable. It's clear that this will affect the quality of food available to all.
Impacts of climate change on residential and commercial property
Many cities have begun adapting to the effects of climate change, developing resilience programs. Over the past two years, the United States has suffered from 30 extreme weather events, including hurricanes, heat waves, and droughts. These events caused $400 billion in economic damage, much of it due to residential real estate. In fact, recent flooding in the Midwest resulted in an estimated $1.5 billion in damages. More than 2,000 homes were damaged.
In the United States, housing stability is the primary factor in generational wealth and financial security. Despite efforts to create affordable housing programs, a significant portion of the population lives in unaffordable housing. These circumstances leave families less able to meet unexpected expenses. In disaster-prone areas, climate-related events have exacerbated the crisis of affordable housing. Housing instability has become a major concern for Americans.
In some cities, these impacts are already being felt, particularly the affordability of housing. Repeated storms and flooding are forcing homeowners to undergo expensive repairs. Many homes will need to be retrofitted, and the cost of a retrofitting project may be beyond the reach of many homeowners. Many will be forced to leave or remain in deteriorated conditions. Moreover, the risks of climate-related weather events are rising dramatically.
As a result, many municipalities are implementing zoning codes to address the effects of climate change on the real estate industry. The private sector will likely come up with numerous resolutions, including increased rents, redirecting development dollars to areas less affected by climate-related damage. But while many local governments are trying to tackle climate change, it's essential to recognize that it will affect the industry.
The effects of climate change are profound. It will reshape the global economy, upend social ecosystems, and reshape the built environment. These risks have been intensified by economic and demographic shifts, along with land-use decisions. In addition, a large percentage of U.S. growth is taking place in areas that are already prone to climate changes.
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