Beyond the Beach

The coastal plains of the Carolinas, beyond the glittering oceanfront, is a land of poverty, high rates of disease, short life expectancy,  and poor education.

It’s also a region where the earth’s rapidly changing climate is taking a particular toll on the health of people who live there. Relying on cutting-edge scientific research — largely produced by top Carolina scientists and academics—we’re telling the story of how climate change is affecting human health in the Carolinas region between Interstate 95 and the ocean. This initiative looks at individual threats to people through a series of uniquely local stories in North Carolina and in South Carolina. Researchers in both states are investigating aspects of the impact of climate change on human health. And they expect the effects to become even more pronounced among the most vulnerable populations.

At-risk groups include the poor, children, farmworkers, and Native American populations—which disproportionately call the coastal plain home. So far, researchers in North Carolina have found frequent incidence of heat-related illness among farmworkers and a strong link to climate change. In South Carolina, scientists have found that potentially deadly microbes are expanding into areas where they’ve never been documented before. Rising sea levels and the warming ocean are the catalysts.

Two newsrooms in the McClatchy Carolinas region—The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer and The (Columbia, S.C.) State—working with colleagues at all eight McClatchy Carolinas news sites, investigate these health effects through a series of science-driven stories featuring researchers from local universities and the local residents most affected.