As the problem of climate change intensifies across the United States, many local populations are finding it harder and harder to live sustainable lives. The threat of heat waves, floods, and wildfires has been a constant presence in the lives of millions of Americans—and in many cases, the only reasonable solution is to move. This raises a vexing question: Where to?
According to The Guardian, that’s a question that many citizens are grappling with these days, and researchers are hard at work evaluating possible answers. Many scientists are of the opinion that generally it’s best to move north, both to avoid the tropical storms that have become common near the equator and to steer clear of rapidly rising temperatures.
“Areas towards the north and away from the ocean and that central corridor where you get tornadoes probably look best,” said Vivek Shandas, climate change expert at Portland State University. “Seattle doesn’t break 90 that often, so it’ll be nothing like Phoenix in terms of tolerability of heat. Places like Portland, Oregon, and Boise, Idaho, will be relatively safeguarded, apart from a bit of wildfire smoke.”
It’s not just about storms and heat waves. There are many, many considerations for people to weigh as they consider climate relocation. Experts noted in The Guardian that climate resiliency is a key factor. If you’re moving to a new city, you want to know they have the resources on hand to recover from a climate disaster, including clean-up costs and other expenses. In addition, they should have a strong tax base so they can stay afloat economically even if climate change causes unexpected developments. There are also key industries that can help a city weather various climate issues, such as energy production and disaster insurance.
Having said all of this, moving is often hard to do. Relocating because of climate change is easy to understand in theory, bit difficult for many to pull off in practice. In a lot of cases, it will only be a realistic choice for high-income people who have the means to find new homes and stable careers.
“As we saw after Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Maria, communities that are able to move can do so, especially if family and friends do the same,” Shandas said. “Those with less resources are left behind.”