Fourth National Climate Assessment

NCA4 Web Site

Economic and Health Risks for Rural Communities

Rural communities are integral to the Southeast’s cultural heritage and to the strong agricultural and forest products industries across the region. More frequent extreme heat episodes and changing seasonal climates are projected to increase exposure-linked health impacts and economic vulnerabilities in the agricultural, timber, and manufacturing sectors. By the end of the century, over one-half billion labor hours could be lost from extreme heat-related impacts. Such changes would negatively impact the region’s labor-intensive agricultural industry and compound existing social stresses in rural areas related to limited local community capabilities and associated with rural demography, occupations, earnings, literacy, and poverty incidence. Reduction of existing stresses can increase resilience.