There was a time when we watched movies, such as The Day After Tomorrow, simply for their entertainment value. Although we can still mostly get away with laughing those types of doomsday climate scenarios off, the prospect of climate change doing enormous damage is getting much more real. Cities are sinking. Hurricanes, droughts, and tornadoes are hitting with increased frequency. People are losing their belongings, livelihoods, and in some cases their lives. It’s a very real and very scary situation — one that should only ramp up as time marches on.
A new study published in the journal Science shows us where in the U.S. the most damage is likely to occur. The researchers measure “damage” from climate change in the resulting drop in GDP. The more afflicted the area, the bigger the economic downturn expected. This would happen for a number of reasons, from businesses being physically destroyed to people simply picking up and moving to other states. For example, if prolonged droughts set in, agricultural firms might need to pick up and settle elsewhere, bringing jobs and opportunities with them.
Using the Science study and a corresponding piece from The New York Times, here are the states (in no particular order) that are going to get hit the hardest in coming years by climate change.
1. New Mexico
We’ll begin out west, where the arid, dry desert states are in for some hurt. New Mexico, specifically, is likely to experience increased drought, which could in turn fuel more wild and forest fires and hurt agricultural operations across the state. And if things do get wet, the likelihood of dangerous flooding increases, too. The danger in New Mexico is mostly relegated to the southern portion of the state.
And it’s not the only Western state on our list.