Day 189: 2020 Pandemic. How Climate Change Will Reshape the United States
We’ve noticed this summer in Tennessee has been more humid than usual. To the point where working outside is fraught with the danger of heat exhaustion event though the temperature is not extreme, perhaps 90 degrees. My wife and I are talking about moving. But where?
Welcome to the future. The Mississippi valley, extending to either side, north to Minnesota, will be like this from here on out.
It’s estimated that half of Americans, 162 million, will experience a decline in the quality of their environment in the coming decades. That being it becoming hotter and their being less water. Which, interestingly, before I began researching this I labeled as the two keys to wherever we move: cooler and a secure water supply.
Yes, California is burning and 2020 is the worst year. But as many are saying, it’s going to be looked back on as the best year. The same with Washington and Oregon. We lived on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, a ferry ride from Seattle for several years. People there have disdained air conditioning and always been proud of their temperate weather (albeit they’re vampires for ten months of the year with no sunlight). That’s changed. Record temperatures are baking homes and work. Smoke from fires is trapped in the bubble of the Sound between the Olympic and Cascade Mountains.
The hottest day recorded on the planet, 130 degrees, was recorded this year in Death Valley. You might not live there, but people are still moving to Phoenix which had 53 straight days hitting 110. Meanwhile hurricanes are coming so fast, we’ve run out of names for this season.
One study estimates that one in twelve Americans will move from the Southeast toward the Mountain West, the Pacific Northwest and California. That’s literally out of the frying pan into the fire. Climate refugee is a term we’re hearing more and more and it is now inside our borders.
The unseen danger for many is drinking water. Drought is searing not only the west but Florida, Georgia and Alabama. The Memphis Sands Aquifer which provides water for MS, AR, LA and TN is going down by millions of gallons. Every day. In the west the Ogallala Aquifer will be gone by the end of the century.
Eight of the US’s top twenty metro areas face dire threats from rising sea levels, including Boston, New York City and Miami. One projection says 13 million will have to move away from the coast, but I think that’s vastly undercounting, since it’s not just whether their home will untenable, but the infrastructure around them. Even here, in Knoxville, during one deluge, a key road was cut by deep water. An event so unusual lots of people simply drove around the warning barriers and to their surprise were dangerously submerged as they plowed into deep water.
Insurers have been backing off of dangerous areas. Even in 2004, while we lived on Hilton Head (the entire island is a flood zone, something many locals never really consider) we saw the change in our insurance company and the coverage and knew it was time to get out. The problem is that state governments, such as in California and Florida and 28 more, have been supplementing insurance to keep people in place for economic reasons. The problem is that the numbers on the costs are going far beyond allowing people to rebuild in the same place their house burned, was blown down, or flooded. Florida, for example, has the potential for being liable for 511 billion dollars to back up coastal property insurance. That’s seven times the state’s budget.
Doing research for my flood risk for The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide, I found that the flood zone maps most use are out of date since they haven’t taken into account water level rising (not just oceans, but the Great Lakes and other bodies of water are going up).
We are entering a new world that is changing fast. The speed of the change, both in terms of climate change and human reaction to it will be exponentially fast and not in a good way
How are you preparing?
The Green Beret Pocket-Sized Survival Guide (same as above, minus the preparation part in order to be smaller in print)
The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide. Also in Kindle Unlimited.