Summary of How the Geography of Climate Damage Could Make the Politics Less Polarizing

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In the 1960s, tough-on-crime activists in the United States liked to say that a “conservative is a liberal who has been robbed.” Climate change activists today may soon describe a climate policy advocate as “a farmer who has lost his harvest to drought” or “a property owner whose house was destroyed by a cyclone.” In fact, new data published by America’s prestigious Climate Impact Lab reveals that US states most strongly opposed to climate policy today will likely suffer the most from climate inaction. A group of scholars at the Brookings Institution discuss the political implications of this data in a fascinating article that will interest anyone who has not yet given up hope for effective US climate action.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How climate change will affect different regions in America and
  • Why climate activists must change their political messaging. 
 

About the Authors

Mark Muro, David G. Victor and Jacob Whiton are scholars at the Brookings Institution. 

 

Summary

As the United States gears up for the 2020 presidential elections, Democrats will likely make climate change one of their top political issues. The common narrative today is that those states most opposed to climate change policies also have the most to lose from a shift to green technologies, and vice versa. Fossil fuel extraction and burning does indeed help drive the economies of many majority-Republican or “red” states today. Meanwhile, “blue” states tend to be more “high tech” and are thus poised to benefit from government investments in clean energy technology. Yet if one looks at the uneven effect climate change will have on individual states, the picture looks very different. In fact, the states that are projected to suffer the most from climate inaction are predominantly red.


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