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Saving Carolina: The financial losses of climate change on the coast

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Climate change is threatening coastal property and infrastructure, and property owners are likely to bear the costs.

“I had to evacuate my home and my whole community was flooded for 10-14 days,” said April O’Leary, founder and president of Horry County Rising.

O’Leary and 400 other Horee families were forced to flee their homes after a catastrophic flood as a result of Hurricane Florence.

“I’ve seen my beloved neighbors, whom I adore, suffer,” she said. “Adult men were crying, just hugging me and just suffering, it really broke me.”

The damage caused by Hurricane Florence was estimated at $ 24 billion, making it the 9th most devastating in U.S. history. According to the National Climate Assessment, climate change is expected to have even more economic consequences.

“Over the past 120 years, South Carolina has warmed by about one degree Fahrenheit,” said Hope Misell, a South Carolina climatologist. “It’s smaller than the Earth as a whole, which is heated by almost two degrees.”

Misel said the state is experiencing an increase in extreme rainfall. Four of the 10 wettest years in history have occurred since 2013. Floods are of great concern due to rising temperatures.

“We see that at low altitudes it affects cities, homes, businesses, infrastructure,” said Misel. “They are, of course, more vulnerable to the effects of rising sea levels as well as internal floods.”

That’s why O’Leary founded Horry County Rising, a low-level group working to mitigate and adapt to floods.

“We’re going to flood no matter what,” O’Leary said. “We can’t change that, but we can make sure that if we do a flood, it’s not a catastrophic event.”

According to the National Climate Assessment, coastal real estate worth $ 1 trillion and more than 60,000 miles of roads and bridges in coastal floodplains are already vulnerable to extreme storms and hurricanes that result in billions in repair costs.

“We also have a very outdated stormwater infrastructure,” O’Leary said. “Most of the infrastructure was developed in the ’50s and’ 60s for much less rainfall.”

The cost of upgrading the country’s sewage and stormwater systems is nearly $ 300 billion over the next 20 years.

AR Saiders, an associate professor at the University of Delaware, focuses on coastal adaptation. She said that adaptation to climate change requires not to build in areas prone to floods, but to improve existing and new infrastructure.

“We are waiting until there is damage to start thinking about how we are going to rebuild, and instead we need to think more about adaptation at the planning level, the initial level, how the decision to build this new building, the decision to introduce this new infrastructure” said Saiders. “Where do you put the new school, right? Are you going to build a new school in the flood zone? Are you going to build it on the dry side of town? ”

The constant effects of warming depend on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2020, four South Carolina nuclear power plants provided 55% of the state’s total electricity, and the state was the third largest producer of nuclear energy in the country.

South Carolina ranks 27th in the country in terms of carbon emissions, leading energy companies such as Santee Cooper are working to reduce the carbon footprint

“We predict that by the 2030s we will reduce our carbon emissions by about 55%,” said Santee Cooper spokeswoman Tracy Vreeland.

To achieve this, Santee Cooper plans to close its Winyah Bay plant in Georgetown by 2028 – leaving only one operating coal-fired power plant – and invest more in renewable energy.

“Last year we signed a contract for 425 megawatts of solar energy, and in the next decade we plan to add another 1,000 megawatts of solar energy and 200 megawatts of battery,” Vreeland said.

To put this into perspective, it will power more than 253,650 homes.

Duke Energy was unable to take an interview on camera, but sent News13 information about its clean energy plan. The company plans to get less than 5% of its energy from coal by 2030 and completely get out of coal by 2035 with the ultimate goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Experts like Misel said it was time to act now.

“When you talk about climate change, there is uncertainty about the scale, timing and location of the impact of climate change,” Misel said. “Sure, it can make it harder to understand and recognize the importance of taking action now, but since we’re certainly already watching everything here in South Carolina as well as around the world, you can’t wait until 2050.”

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Saving Carolina: The financial losses of climate change on the coast

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Climate change is threatening coastal property and infrastructure, and property owners are likely to bear the costs.

“I had to evacuate my home and my whole community was flooded for 10-14 days,” said April O’Leary, founder and president of Horry County Rising.

O’Leary and 400 other Horee families were forced to flee their homes after a catastrophic flood as a result of Hurricane Florence.

“I’ve seen my beloved neighbors, whom I adore, suffer,” she said. “Adult men were crying, just hugging me and just suffering, it really broke me.”

The damage caused by Hurricane Florence was estimated at $ 24 billion, making it the 9th most devastating in U.S. history. According to the National Climate Assessment, climate change is expected to have even more economic consequences.

“Over the past 120 years, South Carolina has warmed by about one degree Fahrenheit,” said Hope Misell, a South Carolina climatologist. “It’s smaller than the Earth as a whole, which is heated by almost two degrees.”

Misel said the state is experiencing an increase in extreme rainfall. Four of the 10 wettest years in history have occurred since 2013. Floods are of great concern due to rising temperatures.

“We see that at low altitudes it affects cities, homes, businesses, infrastructure,” said Misel. “They are, of course, more vulnerable to the effects of rising sea levels as well as internal floods.”

That’s why O’Leary founded Horry County Rising, a low-level group working to mitigate and adapt to floods.

“We’re going to flood no matter what,” O’Leary said. “We can’t change that, but we can make sure that if we do a flood, it’s not a catastrophic event.”

According to the National Climate Assessment, coastal real estate worth $ 1 trillion and more than 60,000 miles of roads and bridges in coastal floodplains are already vulnerable to extreme storms and hurricanes that result in billions in repair costs.

“We also have a very outdated stormwater infrastructure,” O’Leary said. “Most of the infrastructure was developed in the ’50s and’ 60s for much less rainfall.”

The cost of upgrading the country’s sewage and stormwater systems is nearly $ 300 billion over the next 20 years.

AR Saiders, an associate professor at the University of Delaware, focuses on coastal adaptation. She said that adaptation to climate change requires not to build in areas prone to floods, but to improve existing and new infrastructure.

“We are waiting until there is damage to start thinking about how we are going to rebuild, and instead we need to think more about adaptation at the planning level, the initial level, how the decision to build this new building, the decision to introduce this new infrastructure” said Saiders. “Where do you put the new school, right? Are you going to build a new school in the flood zone? Are you going to build it on the dry side of town? ”

The constant effects of warming depend on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2020, four South Carolina nuclear power plants provided 55% of the state’s total electricity, and the state was the third largest producer of nuclear energy in the country.

South Carolina ranks 27th in the country in terms of carbon emissions, leading energy companies such as Santee Cooper are working to reduce the carbon footprint

“We predict that by the 2030s we will reduce our carbon emissions by about 55%,” said Santee Cooper spokeswoman Tracy Vreeland.

To achieve this, Santee Cooper plans to close its Winyah Bay plant in Georgetown by 2028 – leaving only one operating coal-fired power plant – and invest more in renewable energy.

“Last year we signed a contract for 425 megawatts of solar energy, and in the next decade we plan to add another 1,000 megawatts of solar energy and 200 megawatts of battery,” Vreeland said.

To put this into perspective, it will power more than 253,650 homes.

Duke Energy was unable to take an interview on camera, but sent News13 information about its clean energy plan. The company plans to get less than 5% of its energy from coal by 2030 and completely get out of coal by 2035 with the ultimate goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Experts like Misel said it was time to act now.

“When you talk about climate change, there is uncertainty about the scale, timing and location of the impact of climate change,” Misel said. “Sure, it can make it harder to understand and recognize the importance of taking action now, but since we’re certainly already watching everything here in South Carolina as well as around the world, you can’t wait until 2050.”

Reported by Source link

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