As evidence of climate change rises, and the efforts of nations and other organizations to mitigate the changes seems in peril, attention is now turning to the idea of escape.
Where will the climate refugees (in particular those who live in areas expected to be affected worst or first go? And where would be a rational haven?
The places in Canada which seem most vulnerable are Prince Edward Island and the Lower Mainland of BC which are likely to be flooded, parts of the Prairies which under most scenarios will be desertified and river valleys in the East where much greater precipitation is likely.
Below are three articles on the subject, attempting to identify the places which may be safest or most resilient. For those who live in Miami, Bangladesh, New Orleans or Amsterdam, the news is not good. If you can climb the mountains or hills, and the likely climate is still wet enough but not too warm to grow crops you may have options.
As The Climate Changes And The Earth Warms, Where’s The Safest Place On Earth To Live?
Dear EarthTalk: What exactly is a climate refuge anyway?
If temperatures around the globe continue to rise in the face of human-induced climate change as climatologists expect, some of the world’s most populous areas could become uninhabitable. Rising sea levels will flood out coastal areas, while increasing drought will make survival in already arid areas difficult at best. While we may have at least a few decades of runway to prepare ourselves for the worst, advance planners might want to think carefully about where to put down roots now. Where will be your climate refuge?
According to the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN) that measures and ranks 175 countries based on vulnerability and readiness to adapt to climate change, Scandinavian countries—Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark—just might be the safest spot in the carbon-compromised world of the future.
ND-Gain researchers stress that residents of just about any developed country (including the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, China and most of Europe) will likely be fine staying put given the fact that better-heeled governments are already gearing up to adapt to warmer temperatures, more intense storms, rising sea levels and other expected changes. On the flip side, the worst places to be may be mid-latitude developing countries, including most of Africa and South Asia. The countries ND-GAIN predicts will be hardest hit by climate change include Chad, Eritrea, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Niger, Haiti, Afghanistan and Guinie Bissau.
Americans looking for the best place to live domestically as the world warms should also look north. Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, both blessed with plenty of water and plenty of terrain well above sea level, are generally acknowledged to be the best parts of the country to be in under a new climate regime. In fact, University of Washington atmospheric science professor Cliff Mass believes the Pacific Northwest will be “a potential climate refuge” in coming decades. He writes in his popular weather blog that Washington State could soon become the nation’s premiere wine production region as California’s vineyards continue to be slammed by years and years of drought.
Meanwhile, UCLA environmental economics professor, Matthew Kahn, says that otherwise fading cities like Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Detroit will become more and more attractive as their counterparts to the south (Miami, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego) take the brunt of global warming’s fury. In his 2010book, Climatopolis, Kahn predicts that Detroit will be one of the nation’s most desirable cities by 2100. Other climate change winners could include Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Colorado.
Not everyone agrees that Detroit will be the golden city of our future world. Author Giles Slade contends in his 2013 book, American Exodus, that we all may be heading for northern Canada when global warming’s fury really starts to kick in. “The safest places will be significant communities in the north that are not isolated, that have abundant water, that have the possibility of agricultural self-sufficiency, that have little immediate risk of forest fires, that are well elevated, and that are built on solid rock,” he writes. “Our northern lands are our Noah’s ark—a vital refuge against the moment of mankind’s greatest need.”
Where ever you’ll go, now is the time to start thinking about it. Get your piece of climate refuge while you still can!
The Best Places to Live in a Future Troubled by Climate Change
We have passed the point at which climate change is an element of the distant future. Anyone under the age of seventy reading this will almost certainly experience greatly changing natural conditions due to climate change. Not only are some of today’s hurricanes and forest fires made worse by climate change, but the upcoming years will see widespread instances of larger weather catastrophes that will affect more and more people.
During the second half of the 21st century, temperatures will become unbearable in today’s hot regions, ocean levels will rise, making many islands uninhabitable, and the frequency of destructive hurricanes will make many of the world’s coastal areas very inhospitable places to live.
Our children and grandchildren will live in a world much different from ours, where permanent changes to climate will have altered population patterns and the way large groups of people get their food and remain safe from the elements. They will have somewhat limited options for where to live, so it’s not too early to consider how to find a safe place during a world tormented by a drastically-changed climate.
What Makes a Place Safe?
Rather than diving into a list, let’s first build an understanding of traits to look for in an area to build or buy a home and enjoy peace of mind.
- A Cool Place: Projections are that by the mid 21st century, roughly 30 years from now, summer temperatures will be 6 degrees hotter in the middle of North America, from Tennessee to Nevada and Southern Wyoming to Northern Texas. Most of the rest of the country will be 5 degrees hotter than now. Days above 95°F will skyrocket as well, meaning great dangers of heat stroke and similar deadly conditions.
- Away From the Ocean: With higher ocean levels, many coastal areas will experience an eroded and shrunken coastline. Flooding will be commonplace, and tropical storms and hurricanes will be more intense and deadlier than now. It is likely that entire towns will be destroyed by a catastrophic storm.
- Access to Water: Paradoxically, while one doesn’t want to be near the site of a storm disaster, one doesn’t want to live in a desert, either. In these such a situation, the increased heat parches the soil. When rain does come, it has no ability to sink into the cracked soil, instead of running into creeks or rivers. This means drought. Climate change wreaks havoc from all angles.
- Elevation: While the late 20th century won’t find everyone heading for the hills, being at some elevation can be helpful both for beating the heat and for escaping flooding. Lower elevations, depending on the particular combination of conditions, can be acceptable.
With those concepts established, let’s look at cities and other geographical areas that your children and grandchildren will find most hospitable.
Not only is this the case, but Ireland is deeply committed to getting right with the environment and heading into the second half of the century more than ready to face a crazy climate. Its National Development Plan comes with a commitment of €30 billion.
Honorable mentions go to places in central Canada (away from the coast), Scandinavian countries, and North-Central European countries such as Latvia and Estonia. In the U.S., upstate New York and Pacific Northwest locales like Portland and Seattle are also viable. Places that are in grave danger include any developing nations, including Haiti and some African nations. These countries are vulnerable to ravages of nature such as droughts and severe heat.
As we get closer to the middle of the century, it will be crucial to evaluate individual cities on their strategic plans for addressing climate change. A location that can demonstrate it is keeping its infrastructure in optimum working order is the only place for your children and grandchildren.