Black Communities In Southeastern States Face Heightened Threat From Extreme Weather, New Report Reveals

The report estimates that by the year 2050, almost 17% of homes owned by Black people will be at risk of storm damage.

According to a Nov. 30 report from McKinsey & Company, Black people living in the Southeastern United States are more at risk of climate change-related severe weather events than people living in other areas of the country.

The report, titled “Impacts of Climate Change on Black Populations in the United States,” takes an in-depth look at how extreme weather adversely impacts the lives of Black people. According to the report, “Black populations are particularly vulnerable to physical-hazard exposure, since they are concentrated in areas especially susceptible to extreme weather.” 

Most Black people in the United States are concentrated in the Southeastern United States, along the Gulf Coast region stretching from Texas to Florida, CNN reported. The mapping also includes Maryland and Virginia. The report also cautions that as climate change worsens in Black communities, food deserts—or as some food justice advocates describe those areas, “food apartheid areas”—will only get worse as income inequality deepens, further exacerbating the gaps in access to healthy food. 

The report also discovered that in the western United States, areas that map at least 50% Black, Indigenous American, or Latine experience a 50% greater vulnerability to wildfires than do primarily white populations.

The Southwestern United States and the Southeastern United States are both more likely to feature extreme heat than other parts of the country. The two areas have 20 million Black people living in them. Extreme heat, the report reads, “can lead to reduced working hours and higher absenteeism at work, especially for jobs that need to be performed outside, like agriculture or construction.” The report also cautions that Black and Latine workers could be faced with proportional productivity losses as high as 18% as a result of extreme heat-related issues.

The risks of hurricanes are also heavily concentrated in the South, East, and Southeastern United States, which is where Black populations are more densely concentrated. According to the report, “Because tropical storms affect the Gulf and Atlantic coasts the most, our analysis shows that Black communities in the Southeast are 1.8 times more likely than the overall U.S. population in the same area to experience hurricanes.”

The report estimates that by the year 2050, almost 17% of homes owned by Black people will be at risk of storm damage, nearly twice as much as the general risk of storm damage. Along with hurricanes, Black communities in these areas are also at risk of severe flooding, which often also comes along with severe hurricanes.

According to the McKinsey report, by 2050, assuming the Earth’s temperature steadily increases each year, the risk to Black-owned property is expected to rise, with their expected risk increasing to almost 13%. In neighborhoods that were redlined, there is an increased risk of higher temperatures, even controlling for neighborhoods in the same city. In Baltimore, where the population is 62% Black, there is an increased risk of flooding directly correlated to historically redlined areas in the city.

According to the report, “Redlined neighborhoods tend to be “concrete jungles” where the water from flooding cannot be absorbed. They are also often located near brownfields where contaminated runoff from flooding could threaten public health.”

The report recommends, among other possible solutions, that “a concerted effort at understanding the impact of climate risk for Black workers, business owners, consumers, savers, and residents can help the private and public sectors identify racial gaps, allow for timely adaptation to build resilience against physical risks, and enable equitable access to climate finance opportunities.”

RELATED CONTENT: Inside The Climate Crisis’ Effect On Predominantly Black Neighborhoods In Chicago

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