The Look in Brief

New data tools show how vulnerable Tennessee is to climate change

By: - October 3, 2023 5:59 am
A partially submerged Ford F-150 sits in Trace Creek on August 23, 2021 in Waverly, Tennessee. Heavy rains caused flash flooding in the area. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

A partially submerged Ford F-150 sits in Trace Creek on August 23, 2021 in Waverly, Tennessee. Heavy rains caused flash flooding in the area. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

kA new online tool measuring 184 categories of public data shows that large swathes of Tennessee are highly vulnerable to climate change. 

Developed by Texas A&M University and advocacy group the Environmental Defense Fund, the U.S. Climate Vulnerability Index tracks not only heat and extreme weather events, but community characteristics that could worsen the impacts of climate changes on local residents.

Those characteristics include measures of physical and mental health,  environmental pollution and infrastructure. 

The goal of centralizing and visualizing data is to equip communities and policymakers with the data needed to “proactively address vulnerabilities and enhance resilience in the face of a changing climate,” Environmental Defense Fund Senior Health Scientist Grace Tee Lewis said in a statement.

Tennessee ranks 9th in the nation for its overall vulnerability, according to the index. Some of the drivers behind the data include natural disaster-related deaths and limited access to publicly funded services including healthcare.

The data, searchable by address, census tracts, counties and states, shows similar vulnerabilities across the southeast United States.

The U.S. Climate Vulnerability Index

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Anita Wadhwani
Anita Wadhwani

Anita Wadhwani is a senior reporter for the Tennessee Lookout. The Tennessee AP Broadcasters and Media (TAPME) named her Journalist of the Year in 2019 as well as giving her the Malcolm Law Award for Investigative Journalism. Wadhwani is formerly an investigative reporter with The Tennessean who focused on the impact of public policies on the people and places across Tennessee.

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