Climate Change & Sustainability: Closer to Home

"A changing climate could cost the Palmetto State dearly. Our state is particularly vulnerable to the most devastating – and expensive – expected impacts of a warming globe. Higher temperatures and increased hurricane activity could make our state a risky place to live and to visit. More frequent and severe droughts could hobble the economy of an already parched Upstate. Rising seas have the potential to permanently destroy our state's distinctive Lowcountry lifestyle. If we do not act to reduce our influence on the climate, these impacts could cost South Carolina trillions of dollars." - The Coastal Conservation League

South Carolina Snapshot

Coastline: 187 miles

Tidal shoreline: 2,876 miles

South Carolina Population: 4,625,364

Coastal population: 930,204
(nearly 22 percent of state's population)

Near or below sea level, the South Carolina Lowcountry extends from the Sandhills of South Carolina, just east of Columbia, to the coast. Known as the capitol of Lowcountry, Charleston is located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean at the juncture of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers.

Charleston Snapshot

County of Charleston Population: 350,209 ; 3rd largest county in the state
City of Charleston Population: 120,083; Increase of 24.2 percent

Charleston Peninsula Population: 34,636 ; 28.8% of City of Charleson.

Charleston Climate: Average temperatures: January 55 F; July 82 F

Humidity: averages 86 percent

Rainfall: 52 inches per year.

Historically South Carolina suffers from severe weather such as tropical storms and hurricanes, and this trend is expected to increase with the efects of global warming. The 1989 Category 4 Hurricane Hugo, pictured above, reminds Charleston residents of the potentially devastating effects of rising sea levels and storm surges. Hugo's storm surge inundated 80 miles of coastline from Charleston to Myrtle Beach. The storm led to 20 deaths in South Carolina, and 24 South Carolina counties declared federal disaster areas. Damage was estimated at $7 billion nationwide.

It is important to recognize the projected effects of climate change include more intense hurricanes and tropical storms, increased sea level rise and higher storm surges, reaching further inland. Around the world, we see the devastation that can result, with powerful storms and fast-moving walls of water devastating coastal communities. Charleston represents a vital coastal economy, a growing metropolis and a region acutely aware of its low lying land and vulnerability to the sea.

Climate Change Closer to Home