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James R. Elliott

Research Findings

Climate Change Isn’t Hurting Everyone: White Middle Class Americans Benefit from Natural Disasters

March 7, 2019

Recently, the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference in Poland, the U.S. National Climate Assessment Report, and severe forest fires, hurricanes and winter storms have called attention to just how devastating climate change already is and will continue to be. Yet, what these events often fail to highlight is who benefits from this devastation. Understanding that piece of the puzzle is critical for building better policy approaches to climate change.

One of the most tangible effects of climate change in the United States is the mounting cost and frequency of high-impact natural hazards. In 2018 alone, mudslides engulfed large segments of Montecito, Hurricane Florence flooded a large swath of the Carolinas, Hurricane Michael destroyed communities along the Gulf coast, and California experienced some of the most destructive wildfires in history. These are just some of the most widely known events. Hundreds of other natural hazards caused millions more in damage and loss of life across the country.

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