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Economic Impact of Climate Change, A.G. Gaston Motel Preservation

A.G. Gaston
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
A.G. Gaston (R) at his hotel in Birmingham

A new report provides the specific economic impacts of decades of climate change both in Alabama and throughout the United States.

In Alabama, the largest issue is expected to be increased temperature. By 2040, the report estimates that the state will see up to 33 additional days per year above 95 degrees. That would result in a nearly 9% drop in crop yields, a 7.5% jump in energy demand, and nearly 500 additional deaths per year.

Al Sommer is a Dean Emeritus at Johns Hopkins University and a member of the report author group Risky Business’s Risk Committee. He says one of the report’s biggest strengths is it keeps people from arguing over specifics and focuses on a larger issue.

“Look, we don’t know for certain that we’re going to get 50 days over 95 degrees every day. But we know with 67% probability that it’s going to fall between “x” and “y”, both of which are a lot hotter than it is today. So that we begin thinking about practical things we can do.”

Sommer says key improvements that can be made on a community level are a more resilient power grid and more publicly available air conditioning.

Birmingham’s A.G. Gaston Motel is now on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 most endangered historical places.

The designation also includes National Treasure status. That means more money towards renovating the Magic City’s first African-American hotel.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell says he’s worked hard to find funding to renovate the site. With the NTHP designation, he feels the hard work has paid off.

“This facility will be protected for generations to come. It also gave us encouragement that we were on the right track for the renovation efforts that we’re putting forward to really make it a facility that can attract tourism and economic dollars to the community itself.”

Bell says the renovations will help turn the Gaston and the surrounding area into a museum for the Civil Rights Movement. He expects the site, to be called the Freedom Center, will be ready in the next 18 months.

The City of Mobile was awarded over $7 million in its own settlement with oil giant BP in relation to the 2010 oil spill.

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson announced the $7.1 million settlement in a press release yesterday.

After expenses and attorneys’ fees, the city will receive $4.7 million to recover lost tax revenue and other damages caused by the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Stimpson said in his press release: “The oil spill had a devastating effect on the entire Gulf Coast, and this settlement is an important step in the ongoing recovery process for our citizens. We believe this agreement is a fair deal for our community and allows us to avoid additional litigation.”

The funds are expected to be delivered to the city of Mobile within 30 days.

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