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MIT tool shows climate change could cost Texans a month and a half of outdoor time by 2080

There are many ways to describe what is happening to Earth’s climate: Global warming. Climate change. Climate crisis. Weird world. They all attempt to capture in different ways the phenomena caused by malfunctions in our planet’s weather systems. Yet despite the many options of a thesaurus entry, it is still a remarkably difficult concept to make accessible.

MIT researchers may finally have an answer. Instead of predicting Category 5 hurricanes or record-breaking heat days, they developed a tool that lets people see how many “outdoor days” their area could experience by 2100 if carbon emissions grow is not controlled.

The results can be alarming or comforting, depending on where you live.

For Californians, French or Germans, things don’t seem so bad. The weather won’t be as hospitable in the summer, but it will become a bit milder in the spring and fall, adding anywhere from a few days to nearly a month of outdoor weather compared to historical records. The UK will be even better off, gaining 40 days outdoors by the end of the century.

However, not everyone will emerge victorious. Some temperate regions like New York, Massachusetts, China and Japan will lose a week or more of outdoor days. Elsewhere, the situation is even more dire. Illinois will lose more than a month of outdoor days by the 2080s as summers become unbearably hot. Texas will lose a month and a half for the same reason.

Yet it is countries with some of the most vulnerable populations that will suffer the most (as scientists have warned). Nigeria’s summers will become even hotter and longer, removing almost two months of outdoor days. India will lose almost two and a half months.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Even if the world fails to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 – but still achieves it by 2070 – the situation will improve significantly. Nigeria and India would only lose a month of outdoor days, and regions further north would retain some of their additional outdoor days.

Risk assessment

The MIT tool is a relevant application of a field of study known as climate scenario analysis, a branch of strategic planning that seeks to understand the impact of climate change on various regions and demographics. This is not a new field, but as advances in computing power have given rise to more sophisticated climate models, it has become more widely applicable than before.

Many startups are using this relatively new predictive capability to help shape an uncertain future.

Many startups in the sector are working to combat this uncertainty for investors, lenders and insurers. Jupiter Intelligence, Cervest and One Concern all focus on these markets, providing clients with dashboards and data feeds that they can tailor to the regions or even assets of interest. The startups also determine the risk of flooding, wildfires and drought, and will provide reports detailing risks to assets and supply chains. They can also publish regulatory information, highlighting relevant climate risks.

Investors and insurers are concerned enough about the impact of climate change on assets and supply chains that these startups have attracted real money. Jupiter Intelligence raised $97 million, according to PitchBook, while Cervest raised $43 million and One Concern brought in $152 million.

While large financial institutions are an obvious customer base for climate forecasting companies, other externally exposed markets also need solutions.

ClimateAI targets agriculture, including agribusiness, lenders and agribusiness companies, all of which have seen droughts, floods and storms decimate crops. As a result, water risk assessment is a key part of ClimateAI’s forecasts, although it also provides other weather and climate data. The startup has raised $37 million so far, according to PitchBook.

Sensible Weather works in markets a little closer to home for most of us. It provides insurance for people embarking on outdoor events and activities, from live concerts to camping and golf. It works with campgrounds, golf courses, live event operators, and more, allowing them to offer guests the ability to weatherproof their outing. It’s an approach that allowed the startup to benefit from $22 million in funding, according to PitchBook.

As more businesses and consumers become aware of the impact of climate change on their lives, their demand for certainty will create a host of new markets that will provide these startups and their peers with ample opportunities to develop. Climate scenario analysis, once the preserve of university labs and insurance companies, appears poised to become mainstream.

techcrunch

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