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As climate change worsens, Americans struggle to escape its impacts

A couple moved from Nevada to New Hampshire to escape the effects of a changing climate. Issues with extreme weather followed them to their new home.
As climate change worsens, Americans struggle to escape its impacts
Posted at 11:21 AM, Sep 04, 2023

From Hurricane Idalia, to the Hawaiian wildfires and flooding in Vermont, there has been no shortage of natural disasters in this country over the last six months; many of them were made worse due to climate change. Now, more Americans are finding it harder to escape the impact of climate change as it impacts communities nationwide.

Scripps News first met Judith and Doug Saum in 2021. They had just moved to New Hampshire from Reno, Nevada, to escape the growing threat of wildfires. But this couple, both in their 70s, are now finding out that hardly any place in this country is safe from the impacts of climate change.

"Certainly bottom line is you can't escape climate change. I never thought the smoke would follow us here," Saum said.

Over the summer, New Hampshire, like many states, was plagued with wildfire smoke from Canada. Then in July, devastating flash flooding hit parts of Vermont and New Hampshire.

SEE MORE: Small businesses face increasing challenges with extreme weather

"It's frightening. I think it's frightening. It's like those recurring nightmares where you get out of one jam and in you're in a new jam," Doug Saum explained.

James Shope, an assistant extension specialist in climate resiliency at Rutgers University, said climate change's impacts across the U.S. have become incredibly pervasive.

By some estimates, close to 162 million people in the U.S. will experience a decline in their environment over the coming decades, from rising sea levels to wildfires and droughts. According to the United Nations, each year, natural disasters force an average of 21.5 million people from their homes around the world.

The Saums have taken steps over the years to make their home more sustainable, preserving rainwater and installing solar panels on their roofs, because they know firsthand that a changing climate is prompting Americans to move just so they can live.

"Somebody better wake up really fast," Doug Saum said.

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