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Extreme Heat Could Kickstart Large-Scale Climate Migration

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Extreme Heat Could Kickstart Large-Scale Climate Migration

Over 100 million Americans could be displaced due to extreme temperatures in the next 30 years, according to recent land-surface measurements from the First Street Foundation

August 16, 2022
Sign in Death Valley warning of extreme heat
Image: Stock.adobe.com

During the next year, more than 8 million Americans in 50 counties will experience heat index temperatures above 125° Fahrenheit, and within the next 30 years, that number will increase to over 1,000 counties, home to about 108 million Americans, CNBC reports. That 30-year period could affect a number of homeowners with popular long-term mortgages living in states such as Florida and Texas, where heat, flooding, and fire risks are playing into home values.

These at-risk regions have also attracted the largest share of migrating homebuyers throughout the pandemic, but some may not choose to stick around if temperatures continue to climb higher. Extreme weather patterns are expected to cause more climate migration over the coming decades, a trend which is already underway in some flood- and fire-prone areas.

The Midwest will also see big change. First Street delineated an “Extreme Heat Belt” going from Northern Texas and Louisiana to Illinois, Indiana, and up into Wisconsin. Unlike Florida, which will see the most extreme heat days, the Midwest has much less available water to mitigate the heat. Higher humidity there also makes the heat less bearable than in drier areas like Phoenix.

“We need to be prepared for the inevitable, that a quarter of the country will soon fall inside the Extreme Heat Belt with temperatures exceeding 125°F and the results will be dire,” said Matthew Eby, CEO of First Street Foundation.

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