Climate Change Threatens Georgia Industries, Report Says

CORRECTS DATE TO TUESDAY OCT. 7, 2014 The container ship Zim Istanbul makes it's way up the Savannah River past historic River Street in Savannah, Ga., on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, to the Port of Savannah. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed an agreement today allowing the Army Corps of Engineers to begin the long-sought deepening of the Savannah harbor using $266 million in state money. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Credit Stephen B. Morton / Associated Press
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Climate change doesn’t just threaten Georgia’s people and environment, it also threatens the economy, according to a recent study. The report was released by a group called Risky Business, which focuses on climate change and the economy.

Sea levels will go up, and so will the number of hot summer days. That’s research that’s already out there. This new report highlights sectors of the economy that it says should pay attention.

“Over the next 20-30 years, we’re going to see devastating increases in heat, and for Georgia, not so much Atlanta, increasing impact of sea level rise, storm damages,” said Al Sommer, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who contributed to the report.

Companies need to think about how more heat will affect them, he said. Utilities will have to handle higher demand for electricity. Companies will have to pay more for air conditioning and consider how more hot days will affect outdoor workers. Farms will have to deal with the hot days, too.  

On the coast, the Savannah Port could be threatened by sea level rise and storm surges.

Sommer said he looks at the looming impacts from climate change on two different levels. There’s adaptation, and there’s mitigation.

“There are certain things that need to be done now to take care of what is already baked into the system,” he said, because we’re already locked into a certain amount of sea level rise and increased heat.

But to keep the impacts from getting any worse in the long term, he said, companies and politicians will have to take more action to cut emissions.    

Earlier this week, a group of companies, including Atlanta-based Coca-Cola and UPS, signed a pledge with the White House to decrease their greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade.