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Weather & Science

Jackson, Mississippi, Water Crisis Previews a Wetter, Hotter US Future

In the state’s capital, climate change is compounding the problems of decaying infrastructure and entrenched inequality. 

Flooding in Jackson on Aug. 29. 

Flooding in Jackson on Aug. 29. 

Photographer: Rogelio V. Solis/AP Photo

The water crisis unfolding in Jackson, Mississippi, was decades in the making: the culmination of crumbling infrastructure, systemic racism and more extreme weather. It’s also a stark warning of trouble to come as climate change piles new stress onto the essential services Americans rely on every day. 

In addition to warming up the planet by nearly 1.2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times, climate change is making precipitation events more intense, and therefore more likely to overwhelm strained systems. Lower-income and minority communities such as Jackson — which is 82% Black and where a quarter of residents live in poverty — bear the brunt of the impacts.