Mississippi is vulnerable to sea level rise, flooding and increasing temperatures – all which threaten the state’s agriculture and energy industries as well as human health
Overall, Mississippi will become warmer, with both more flooding and drought. Extreme heat and decreased water availability will affect health, energy, agriculture, and more. The Southeast in general is exceptionally susceptible to extreme heat, more frequent and more intense hurricanes, and decreased water availability. Mississippi is also vulnerable to sea level rise, which poses widespread and continuing threats to the state’s economy and environment.
- Sea level rise: Sea level is rising more rapidly in Mississippi than in other areas because Mississippi is also subsiding. Coasts are likely to rise between 20 inches and four feet in the next century.
- Flooding: Increasing temperatures and precipitation amplify the risk of flooding, especially along the Mississippi River. Since 1958, the amount of precipitation falling during heavy rainstorms has increased by 27 percent in the Southeast, and the trend toward increasingly heavy rainstorms is likely to continue. In the first week of 2016, the strongest El Nino on record and a warmer atmosphere due to climate change, combined to produce a massive storm that caused record-breaking floods.
- Increasing Temperatures: The southeast will likely be hit hardest by heat impacts. The number of days at or above 95 degrees Fahrenheit will increase from an average of 9 per year to 17-43 by mid-century. Higher temperatures will likely reduce the productivity of farms and ranches, change parts of the landscape, and harm human health. In addition, warmer weather will decrease productivity in high-risk sectors like construction, mining, utilities, transportation and manufacturing.
- Adaptation: Mississippi has not developed a climate adaptation plan.
Mississippi residents support clean energy and climate regulations
- According to the Yale Map Project on Climate Change Communication 66% of Mississippi residents recognize that global warming is happening. The project finds that 72% of residents support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, including 65% that support setting carbon dioxide limits on existing coal-fired power plants. 80% support funding research into renewable energy sources.
Mississippi shows significant potential for solar, currently untapped
- Renewable Portfolio Standards: Mississippi does not have any renewable energy policy or portfolio standards. Mississippi generated 2.3% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2015, almost all of which was biofuels from wood and wood waste. Mississippi has no wind production.
- Solar: Mississippi ranks 40th in the nation for installed solar capacity, with 10.2 MW currently installed or enough to power 1,000 homes. The solar industry employs 883 people. Mississippi ranks 22nd in terms of growth projections, with 704 MW expected to be installed over the next 5 years.
- Nuclear: The Grand Gulf Nuclear Station is the largest single-unit nuclear power plant in the nation, generating 18% of Mississippi’s electricity in 2015.