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Report: Virginia Vulnerable to Impact of Climate Change

April 5, 2012

The National Resources Defense Council says Virginia is among the states least prepared for climate change.

The environmental group explained why on Thursday when it released a state-by-state analysis of what the states are doing — or not doing — to prepare for what the group says are ever-growing threats related to climate change.

The report claims only only nine states have taken comprehensive steps to address their vulnerabilities to the water-related impacts of climate change, while 29 states are unprepared for growing water threats to their economies and public health. Those threats include floods, droughts and more frequent severe storms.

The report ranks all 50 states on their climate preparedness planning, and is accompanied by an interactive online map at showing the threats every state faces from climate change.

The new NRDC report, “Ready or Not: An Evaluation of State Climate and Water Preparedness Planning,” outlines four preparedness categories to differentiate between the nine best-prepared and most engaged states with comprehensive adaptation plans (including California, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin), from those states that are least prepared and lagging farthest behind (including Florida, New Mexico, Ohio, Virginia, and Texas).

The council, for instance, says the Virginia Beach-Norfolk metropolitan area ranks the 10th worldwide in terms of risk related to sea level increases. Moreover, the council states, more than 740 square miles statewide are vulnerable to a 2-foot rise in sea level.

“Rising temperatures and more extreme weather events are impacting our families, our health and our pocketbooks. Water is a matter of survival. It powers our lives and industries, and it keeps our natural systems healthy,” said NRDC Water & Climate Program director Steve Fleischli. “This report is both a wake-up call and a roadmap for all communities to understand how vital it is to prepare for climate change so we can effectively safeguard our most valuable resources. Preparing for the impacts of a changing climate requires that states confront reality, and prioritize climate change adaptation to reduce local water risks and create healthier communities.”


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