Many states across the country are unprepared to face the risks posed extreme heat, drought, wildfires, inland flooding, coastal flooding and other extreme weather events, according to a new report card.
Only a small number of states—Alaska, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania—have taken strong action to prepare for future risks across the threats they face, according to the report card.
States receiving an overall A or A-grade include California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania.
States getting an overall F grade include: Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada and Texas.
The report, “States at Risk: America’s Preparedness Report Card,” grades each of the 50 states based on the threats the state faces. Grades are based on both the magnitude of the current and future threat and the action states have taken to prepare for them relative to other states.
America’s Preparedness Report Card This report card explores the preparedness actions that each of the 50 states are taking in relation to their current and future changes in climate threats. Sources: ICF, Climate Central, States at Risk Project.
The report was prepared by the States at Risk Project, a collaboration of ICF International, a Virginia management consulting firm, and Climate Central, a nonprofit news organization, is designed to provide a benchmark for states to assess risks and increase their preparedness levels.
Key findings include:
“This report card lays it out plain and simple: very few states have taken sufficient action to prepare for future changes in weather patterns that are already impacting us—and if we don’t take action now it will only get worse,” said former Alaska Senator Mark Begich in a statement about the report.
Begich said his own state has already felt the effects of climate change firsthand and has taken steps to address coastal erosion and ocean acidification. But Alaska is not alone in facing threats, he said, citing coastal flooding that threatens property and lives in Florida and extreme heat decimating crops and endangering vulnerable people in Ohio.
Taxpayers for Common Sense Vice President Steve Ellis said extreme weather poses a “significant risk to the U.S. economy, infrastructure and lives” and recovery costs are putting stress on federal, state and local budgets. “Since the 1980s, the annual number of disasters with a price tag exceeding $1 billion has nearly tripled, from less than three to more than eight a year,” Ellis said. “Planning and taking steps to address these inevitable disasters cuts long-term costs, reduces impacts and ensures states and communities can more quickly rebound from losses. Rather than continue to write big checks post-disaster, we as a nation must invest in ourselves to become less vulnerable.”
Other key findings from the report related to the risks states face include:
“Responding after a natural catastrophe occurs is extraordinarily expensive, not least of all, in the number of lives that may be lost,” said Carl Hedde, senior vice president, head of Risk Accumulation at Munich Reinsurance America. “It is unquestionable that investing before disaster strikes, to both mitigate and prevent loss, is good public policy. This report card is an important step in helping each state assess its strengths and weaknesses, and then focus its limited resources on strategies and actions that will reduce current risks and measurably improve disaster resilience for the long term.”
Source: States at Risk