Skip to main content

This tool shows how horrific climate change will be in 2050

Extreme heat is impacting where people can reasonably live

If this summer has got you feeling like an ant under the magnifying glass, welcome to the club. More Americans than ever are expected to suffer through extreme temperatures over the next 30 years, according to a national risk assessment released by the First Street Foundation. Extreme heat waves, in fact, are expected to last longer and impact more communities as the climate continues to warm. By 2050, the nonprofit assessing climate change risk predicts an “extreme heat belt” to wrap around the southeastern and western United States, affecting over 107 million residents.

What does First Street define as ‘extreme’? How about over 1,000 U.S. counties projected to experience at least one day above 125 degrees by 2053. Yikes. This real estate over this extreme heat belt rolls down the West Coast into northern Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. The dark red blotches aren’t isolated to southern climes, though, stretching as far north as Illinois, Indiana, and even Wisconsin.

Change in days above 100°F, 2023 to 2053.
First Street Foundation

The peer-reviewed extreme heat model is the research and technology nonprofit’s sixth National Risk Assessment of hazardous heat.  The model measures the seven hottest days expected for any property this year, and extends that metric to estimate how many of those days could be experienced in the next three decades.

First Street identifies these potentially hazardous climates so that homeowners can prepare for increasingly inclement conditions. The report assesses “how the frequency, duration, and intensity of extremely hot days will change over the next 30 years,” illustrating how changing climate conditions impact personal property. This analysis arises from “high-resolution measurements of land surface temperatures, canopy cover, impervious surfaces, land cover, and proximity to water to calculate the current heat exposure, and then adjusts for future forecasted emissions scenarios”.

For 2023, the model found 50 counties that are home to 8.1 million residents expected to experience temperatures above 125 degrees in 2023 — the highest level in the National Weather Services’ heat index. By 2053, 1,023 counties are expected to exceed this temperature, an area that is home to 107.6 million Americans and covers a quarter of the U.S. land area.

Max monthly temperature (ºF) hazard 2023.
First Street Foundation

“We need to be prepared for the inevitable, that a quarter of the country will soon fall inside the Extreme Heat Belt with temperatures exceeding 125°F and the results will be dire,” Matthew Eby, founder and CEO of First Street Foundation, said in a press release.

NWS data reveals extreme heat to be, by far, the top weather-related killer in the U.S. How do you die when it’s hot? Heat-related illness occurs when the body can no longer cool itself due to insufficient levels of fluid and/or salt after sweating too much and not consuming enough water dehydration. A combination of high heat and humidity can lead to muscle cramps, heat exhaustion, and finally heat stroke.

The most at risk are often the people with the least means to adapt to the situation: kids, the elderly, people of color, and poor folk. According to the NWS, this risk is multiplied in dense urban centers that create urban heat islands. Construction can also magnify these conditions.

The Washington Post found that, by the middle of this century, “71 percent of the poorest neighborhoods in the country will likely endure severe heat.”

Extreme heat will also make outdoor work more dangerous. First Street estimates that there are roughly 3.8 million outdoors workers today who experience at least one annual severe heat wave. In 30 years, the model estimates that number to jump nearly 30 percent to 4.9 million people.

The most severe shift in local temperatures, for example, is in Miami-Dade County where the model posits that its seven hottest days, currently at 103 degrees, will increase to 34 days at that same temperature by 2053.

Probability of 3 Consecutive Local Hot Days 2023, 2053.
First Street Foundation

First Street’s prognosticator is now incorporated with its Risk Factor tool, for every property in the contiguous United States. Risk Factor users can not only determine their Heat Factor in the next 30 years, but assess their Flood Factor and Fire Factor as well, learning the specific risks to their location.

These extremes could suggest a lot more climate migration and a very different real estate market very soon.

“If people move then you have an impact to the tax base and changes to demand for properties and values overall,” Eby told CNBC.

Learn More

Editors' Recommendations

Topics
Matthew Denis
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Matt Denis is an on-the-go remote multimedia reporter, exploring arts, culture, and the existential in the Pacific Northwest…
How to renew Global Entry (and when you should do it)
passport sitting on top of white paper

Global Entry is an expedited screening program run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers to breeze through immigration and customs checkpoints when entering the United States. The program saves time and hassle by letting members use automated kiosks rather than standing in regular passport control lines.

If you're already enrolled in Global Entry, you know what a convenience it is -- but a Global Entry membership is only valid for five years before it needs to be renewed. Here's how to renew your membership and ensure uninterrupted access to those coveted kiosks.
When to renew Global Entry

Read more
The best shows on Starz to watch in May
From Outlander to Party Down, these are the best shows you can stream on Starz
Outlanders

Starz has proven since its inception that it can hang with larger competitors like Max. Although it's now making television in an incredibly crowded landscape, Starz has managed to regularly launch shows that make an impact, and it speaks to the enduring quality of these shows that they've also stood the test of time.
These shows have also spanned a wide array of genres, making viewers laugh and weep, often in equal measure. Through it all, though, these Starz shows have proven it can reliably make shows that touch viewers and endure for years after their time on the air has concluded.

Party Down (2009)

Read more
The best shows on Netflix to stream in May
Binge-worthy Netflix series you don't want to miss
Bojack Horseman and Princess Caroline

TV may not be peaking quite the way it was a few years back, but there are still more than enough shows out there to keep you busy. After Netflix emerged on the scene and revolutionized how we all watched TV, it was joined by a huge swath of competitors determined to take advantage of the streaming boom. All of those competitors have great stuff to watch, but Netflix is still many people's hub for all things TV. Even within the streamer, though, it can be difficult to figure out what the best shows on Netflix are.

Thankfully, that's where this list comes in. We've compiled a rundown of what to watch on Netflix, and these Netflix shows should add up to days and days of endless binging. You can also check out our list of the best Hulu series, best Amazon Prime series, best Disney Plus series, and best Netflix movies after you've made it through the series listed below.

Read more