Climate Protesters

Protesters gather outside the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 1, 2017, to protest President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the Unites States from the Paris climate change accord. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) ORG XMIT: DCSW120

Anyone who follows the great climate change debate nationally has surely picked up on a profound disconnect: Among the areas where politicians are the least likely to acknowledge the crisis and support action to confront it are those that are most vulnerable to its ravages.

Sound familiar, Louisiana?

If not, a frightening new map put out by the Brookings Institution shows makes it plain. Climate change is a key agenda item among Democrats, but it’s the Republican swath across the Deep South that’s most likely to feel the harsh effects, from coastal damage to changes in agricultural production to mortality.

The report’s authors don’t just see despair in the data, but also a strange sort of hope. The current, vastly polarized debate pits high-tech blue states that support investment in renewables and curbing carbon emissions against states where fossil fuel production still dominates.

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“And yet, what if we look at the geography of climate change from a different angle?,” the report's authors ask. “Specifically, what if we flip the frame from emissions to impacts? From that perspective, the current gridlock might not be as permanent as it now seems, as many of the jurisdictions that have selected political leaders opposed to climate policy are the most exposed to the harms of climate change.”

That’s a tall order, certainly around here, where politicians from both parties tend to sing the same tune. Yet this new report tells us what we should already know: While averting our eyes may be a sound strategy for short-term political success, it’s no way to plan for long-term survival.


Follow Stephanie Grace on Twitter, @stephgracela.