Today, the National Conference on Citizenship, in partnership with Fair Count and the Southern Economic Advancement Project, announced the first edition of Pathways to Prosperity: Building Climate Resilience. This comprehensive report details both the impacts of climate change and the potential for federal investments to target the inequities these impacts create and compound. This edition focuses on people living in Southern states, a group particularly at risk.
“Georgia has a massive opportunity to leverage federal investments and lessen the harms of climate change,” said Dr. Allison Plyer, Lead Author, Pathways to Prosperity. “Pathways to Prosperity: Building Climate Resilience serves as a guide to ensuring federal funds are distributed equitably and strategically — saving lives, improving well-being, and strengthening communities.”
Building on the work of the Covid-focused Pandemic to Prosperity project, Pathways to Prosperity similarly recognizes how, if left unaddressed, major crises exacerbate structural disparities. This undermines community resilience and makes states less adaptable to changing environmental conditions. Some findings in the report are highlighted below.
HEAT VULNERABILITY AND DEATHS: 2023 was the hottest year on record in the U.S. and saw record-high heat-related deaths which are now the primary cause of weather-related deaths across the country. An estimated 23% of people living in Georgia are vulnerable to extreme heat.
FLOOD RISK AND INSURANCE: 10% of properties in Georgia are at major or extreme risk of flooding within the next 30 years, and the average cost of flood insurance in Georgia will be $1,332 once full-risk prices are completely implemented–– a 68% increase from what policyholders currently pay.
UNCONTESTED ELECTIONS: In Georgia, 53% of seats went uncontested in the latest state legislature election. Uncontested elections yield elected officials who show up less often to vote on bills and respond less to constituents. And scholars say that lack of political competition may result in more poorly functioning legislatures that are less responsive and less reflective of the citizens they serve — including on key issues such as climate action. According to a March 2023 survey, 58% of U.S. adults say their state elected officials are doing too little to address climate change.
DRUG OVERDOSES: Substance use can alter the body’s ability to regulate its temperature, and more frequent extreme weather temperatures further complicate the issue. Overdose deaths related to opioid usage are higher on both hotter days and colder days. U.S. drug overdose deaths have increased 500% since 1999, reaching over 108,000 in 2022.