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New Report Highlights How Much Climate Change Is Going to Suck for Texans

Sure, the Risky Business Project's latest report on the looming effects of climate change might also be a scare tactic to get policymakers into gear—but, really, that's more of a perk than a purpose.

Henry Cisneros, formerly the mayor of San Antonio and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary, told the Texas Tribune that “the idea is that if the group can convince business leaders that climate change is a true risk, they will in turn pressure policymakers to do something to address it."

And (unless you're a total climate-change nonbeliever) the results look pretty risky.

The study, called "Come Heat And High Water: Climate Change in the Southeastern U.S. and Texas," claims that “Texas is likely to be among the states hit hardest by the impacts of climate change, with extreme heat taking its toll on workers, crops, and vulnerable communities.” It expects Texas to have among the nation's highest heat-related death toll—beginning as soon as five years. 

It predicts that between 2020 and 2039, Texas is likely to see as many as 2,580 additional heat-related deaths, and 4,500 between 2040 to 2059—the most of any state. Almost 40 percent of Texans work in high-risk industries vulnerable to soaring temperatures (such as agriculture, construction, or manufacturing), and their daily output is expected to decline by as much as one hour per day when temps are above 85 degrees, according to a 2011 Risky Business study,

In today's report, Risky Business projects that Texans will see an average of 80 days hotter than 95 degrees by 2020, and 106 days by 2050. These rising temperatures could cost the state about $1,000 per worker per year by late century, due to decreased productivity.

All this sweating will also make air conditioning and electricity demands go up, the study says, which could in turn be costing every room-temperature-loving person an additional $142 per month? by 2050.

Houstonians have some more things to worry about: rising sea levels. By 2050, the Galveston sea level is expected to rise about 2 feet. And even sooner, by 2030, $20.9 billion worth of Texas coastal property is “likely to be flooded by high tide,” the study says.

But at least the authors don't leave us hopeless. “Texas impacts are not inevitable,” the conclusion reads. “The most severe risks can be avoided through early investments in resilience, and through immediate public and private sector action to reduce the pollution that causes climate change.”

The Risky Business Project committee is an eclectic bunch, which is chaired by Michael Bloomberg, the former NYC mayor; Harry Paulson, former U.S. secretary of the treasury; and Tom Steyer, a former private-sector founder of a capital management company.

You can read all their scary Texas predictions here.
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Meagan Flynn is a staff writer at the Houston Press who, despite covering criminal justice and other political squabbles in Harris County, drinks only one small cup of coffee per day.
Contact: Meagan Flynn