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Climate disasters displacing millions in the U.S.

By District Energy posted 02-06-2023 22:29




Natural disasters worsened by a changing climate are displacing millions of people in the U.S.

That’s according to a new Census Bureau report, which found that more than 3 million adults were forced to evacuate their homes in the past year because of hurricanes, floods and other events, writes POLITICO’s E&E News reporter Thomas Frank. That amounted to 1.4 percent of the U.S. adult population — and included 11 percent of adults in Louisiana.

The tally marks a rare federal effort to assess the uprooting caused by the climate emergency. The Census Bureau estimate far exceeds other counts of U.S. evacuees, suggesting that previous data and reporting on internally displaced persons underestimate this ongoing crisis.

For example, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, which tracks people displaced within their own country for any reason, estimated that disasters displaced an average of 800,000 U.S. residents a year from 2008 through 2021.

That includes the center’s estimate that 1.7 million were displaced in 2017 — the year of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, three of the most destructive storms in U.S. history.

While most displacements documented by the Census Bureau were short-term, roughly 16 percent of the displaced adults never returned home, and 12 percent were out of their homes for more than six months. Evacuation rates were highest for the poorest households, those earning less than $25,000 a year.

Globally, 20 million people are displaced every year by climate-fueled events, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. And that number is only expected to grow.

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