Social Inequalities in Climate Change-Attributed Impacts of Hurrican Harvey

31 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2021

See all articles by Kevin T. Smiley

Kevin T. Smiley

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

Ilan Noy

Victoria University

Michael Wehner

University of California, Berkeley - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)

Dave Frame

Victoria University

Chris Sampson

Fathom

Oliver E. Wing

Fathom

Date Written: 2021

Abstract

Climate change is already increasing the severity of extreme weather events such as with rainfall during hurricanes. But no research to date investigates if, and to what extent, there are social inequalities in current climate change-attributed flood impacts. Here, we use climate change attribution science paired with hydrological flood models to estimate climate change-attributed flood depths and damages during Hurricane Harvey in Harris County, Texas. We then combine this information with detailed land-parcel and census tract socio-economic data to describe the socio-spatial characteristics of these climate change-induced impacts. Our findings show that 30 to 50% of the flooded properties would not have flooded without climate change. These climate change-attributed impacts were particularly felt in Latinx neighborhoods, and especially so in Latinx neighborhoods that were low-income and among those located outside of FEMA’s 100- year floodplain (and therefore less likely to be insured). An important implication is the need to focus on pressing climate justice challenges that not only concern future climate change-induced risks, but are already affecting vulnerable populations disproportionately now.

Keywords: Hurricane Harvey, attribution, climate change, poverty, flood insurance

JEL Classification: Q540

Suggested Citation

Smiley, Kevin T. and Noy, Ilan and Wehner, Michael and Frame, Dave and Sampson, Chris and Wing, Oliver E., Social Inequalities in Climate Change-Attributed Impacts of Hurrican Harvey (2021). CESifo Working Paper No. 9412, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3961915 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3961915

Kevin T. Smiley (Contact Author)

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge ( email )

Baton Rouge, LA 70803
United States

Ilan Noy

Victoria University ( email )

Footscray Park
PO Box 14428
Melbourne, 8001
Australia

Michael Wehner

University of California, Berkeley - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) ( email )

1 Cyclotron Road
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Dave Frame

Victoria University ( email )

Footscray Park
PO Box 14428
Melbourne, 8001
Australia

Chris Sampson

Fathom

Oliver E. Wing

Fathom

United Kingdom

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