USGCRP Global Climate Change Impacts in the U.S. - Society

This report is one of seven sector-specific chapters from the United States Global Change Research Program's 2009 National Climate Assessment, "Global Climate Change Impacts in the U.S."  The 'Society' chapter synthesizes current and projected impacts from climate change to society in the U.S. The chapter emphasizes several key messages: population shifts and development choices are making more Americans vulnerable to the expected impacts of climate change; vulnerability is greater for those who have few resources and few choices; city residents and city infrastructure have unique vulnerabilities to climate change; climate change affects communities through changes in climate-sensitive resources that occur both locally and at great distances; and that the insurance industry is particularly vulnerable to increasing extreme weather events such as severe storms, but it can also help society manage the risks. 


The report describes differences in vulnerabilities to climate change across society, recognizing that comparative risk depends on people's circumstances. It identifies the very young, the very old, the sick, and the poor as some of the most at-risk populations.  In addition, the report discusses the risks faced by Native Americans living on reservations since they have limited relocation options and depend on natural systems for traditional practices. It finds that people living in U.S. cities face additional stresses, such as aging infrastructure and air pollution, that could be compounded by climate change. 


The report recognizes that climate change will affect different segments of society differently because of their varying exposures and adaptive capacities. It also explains that the U.S. will be affected by, and will affect, impacts in other parts of the world through a variety of social, economic, and political channels.


Publication Date: June 2009

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