Where would be the best place to live in 2035? 2060?

I often get asked the question where should people live, so that’s the question of this week’s open thread.

Trying to understand that question is one of the reasons why I ultimately decided to read Matthew Kahn’s Climatopolis:  How Our Cities Will Thrive in the Hotter Future, even though I knew its main thesis was deeply flawed.  I don’t think you’ll find any answers in that book, as I’ve written.

You have to start with the science:

But as I’ve noted (see “What year will coastal property values crash?“), coastal property values won’t wait to (permanently) fall until sea levels have actually risen 4 or 5 feet, as they almost certainly will by the end this century on our current CO2 emissions path:

No, coastal property values will crash when a large fraction of the financial community and of opinion-makers “” along with a smaller but substantial fraction of the public “” realize that it is too late for us to stop 4 to 5 feet of SLR.  I tend to think the peak in U.S. coastal property values comes some time in the 2020s.

I wonder, too, when property values will crash in the Southwest (see “U.S. southwest could see a 60-year drought like that of 12th century “” only hotter “” this century” and “Must-read NCAR analysis warns we risk multiple, devastating global droughts even on moderate emissions path“).

Let’s assume that, for the foreseeable future, humanity keep doing what it’s been doing to stop human-caused global warming, pretty much nothing, though feel free to spell out what scenario you think will play out, when we ultimately get desperate and seriously try to reduce emissions, by around, say 2025, what I call “planetary purgatory” in my 2006 book, Hell and High Water.  Can we stop the amplifying feedbacks from taking us to 1000 ppm?  Frankly, most of the studies cited above are for 700 to 800 ppm — and even staying above 450 ppm for any length of time seems suicidal:

You certainly don’t want to be living on the coast, in the Southwest, or in a 100-year 1000-year floodplain.  Developing countries seem unlikely to be the place to be, needless to say.

So where would you recommend your children live, in, a quarter century and your grandchildren in a half century?

UPDATE:  For those planning to move to Idaho, let’s remember this travel brochure from the National Academy of Sciences 2010 report, Climate Stabilization Targets:  Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millennia:

Salt Lake wildfire

Percent increase (relative to 1950-2003) in median annual area burned for ecoprovinces of the West with a 1°C increase in global average temperature.

Yes, that is just from a 1°C warming (by mid-century).

192 Responses to Where would be the best place to live in 2035? 2060?

  1. Peter M says:

    Great Post

    In Anglo America- its simply the further north near the coast.

    The coasts will be subject to sea rise- and the eastern seaboard with tropical cyclones- but the upper northeast- and the west coast from north of San Francisco will be best.

  2. Tom Kimmerer says:

    I live in Kentucky, and I think this will be a good place to live in the future. Although Kentucky is a major part of the problem, both because of our high emissions per capita and because of our increasingly right-wing politics, the impacts of global warming will be less here than most places. According to current regional models, Kentucky will warm moderately, have increased rainfall, and increased drought frequency. We are less likely than states to our south to have catastrophic drought.

    Water is going to be the most critical asset in the near future. Kentucky already has more miles of rivers and streams than any state except Alaska, and thus good access to water. We need to do a better job of managing water quality and quantity, and stop burying streams with mountaintop removal. If we can store water more effectively, e.g. by repairing existing locks and dams on the Kentucky river, we can ride out drought periods.

    Our alternative energy choices are somewhat limited. There will never be commercial wind in this state, as we are the fourth lowest state in wind resources. Concentrated solar is out of the question. Solar photovoltaics will be important in the near future as prices come down. We do have abundant biomass resources in forests and underused farmland. With a combination of conservation, solar and biomass, Kentucky could become self-sufficient in low-carbon energy over the next few decades.

    The biggest barrier to achieving any renewable energy goals in this state is the power of the coal industry and the low cost of energy. That will change once a price is put on carbon.

    So for the sake of my family (I have 3 young kids who will see the worst impacts of global warming), I’m staying put in Kentucky. Don’t worry, we have plenty of room for climate refugees from the Southwest.

  3. Keith says:

    Upstate NY and Upstate New England will fare better than most.

  4. Jonah says:

    If you consider, along with the effects of AGW, the expected arrival of massive oil shortages and no viable substitute for the car (assuming we continue to neglect to fund a transition away from the ICE) then I’d suggest somewhere with a well-established and expansive electric-based public transit system.

    (Boston & New York come to mind for the northeast – Portland, OR for the northwest)

    You think living in the city is expensive now? Just wait until all the rich folks want to move back there so they can get to their work.

  5. Alteredstory says:

    I was thinking an area like Mt Cadillac – it’s on the coast, so there’s ample supply of water if you have a way to get the salt out, and it’s got a very steep shoreline, so you can live near the water, and still allow for at least 20-100 feet of sea level rise before it starts causing problems. Then you build a dock/stair system that’s easy to adjust for rising seas (similar to how they’re built for tides now), set up some wind turbines, solar panels, and maybe a tidal turbine, and you could have a small community there, with farmland a little further inland to be irrigated by desalinated sea water as needed.

    There are a number of spots like that along the east and west coasts. You’d have to build with big storms in mind, but I think that’s true for almost everywhere these days.

    Another option would be somewhere around the Great Lakes, but I’m expecting those to drain fairly quickly as everybody congregates there and uses the water.

    Honestly though, I think our best bet would be to build anywhere coastal, and build in such a manner that the structures will withstand sea level rise – almost like stationary subs or shallow-water labs. Then, in addition to having all the water you need, and power from the water, wind, and sun (and geothermal I suppose), you can also do work on developing algae that pull lots of carbon from the air, and thrive in more acidic ocean water. Maybe find bacterial to pull carbon out of the water too, or start a salp farm for that or something.

  6. David Smith says:

    My first impulse is some place sort of north where there was reasonable fresh water (rain) and not too many people, out of the way. Food and water shortages could lead to unimaginable chaos in dense population centers.

  7. Jeff Huggins says:

    Away from the maddening crowd.

  8. Peter M says:

    I may also add the upper Great Lakes.

  9. Mike Roddy says:

    I like Idaho too, especially around the Challis National Forest. The only problem with Idaho is that it’s been colonized by militiamen, retired cops, and various Far Right nutters (think Ruby Ridge), especially in the Panhandle. The civil conflict a lot of us foresee would start early up there, since we would have to have guns, and the Fox crowd has very twitchy trigger fingers.

    Western Oregon and Washington are already more crowded, but at least the politics is tolerable.

  10. Leif says:

    NO, NO, not the North West. I currently live here and bring in hundreds of thousands perhaps millions of climate refugees will surely trash the area beyond recognition. Even if ALL were dedicated TREE HUGGERS.

    At the risk of sounding trite, I would suggest trying to stick it out as close to your present location as possible and making your life compatible with the presented environment. The success of Mankind through out the ages has always been our tenacious ability to adapt to the present surroundings. From the driest of deserts to Arctic ice expanses. What environmental trigger, from what quarter, will the answer spring to truly address our wanton disregard of the planet? A word or phrase from a Bangladesh peasant vainly fighting sea level rise so his family may survive? A budding Eskimo scientist visualizing a unique pathway to sustainable energy? A farmer noticing a survival trait in one of his thousands of plants? We do not know. We can not know.

    It is only thru our collective effort, the world over, to address local climatic disruptions, with local innovation and local adaptation, and local resources, will mankind prevail. (That and the awareness that there is NO PLACE TO RUN in the big picture.) No doubt there will be losses. There will be retreats. On the other hand there WILL be successes! There in lies the answer to humanities FUTURE on SPACE SHIP EARTH.

    Our Past is Now the Enemy of Our Future…

    Looking for dwindling Greener Pastures as the Earth “browns” is admitting defeat. You want green pastures, GROW THEM… CREATE THEM…

  11. Great question Joe. One could devote an entire blog to discussion. I hope you return to it.

    First, presuming that we stop short of invoking Venus syndrome – and assuming we might have a sustainable atmosphere.

    Areas closer to the poles – but not too close, because the heating increase will be greatest there. The Arctic ocean might become a seasonal swamp – inhospitable in the summer heat. Already the heat increases in the polar regions are extreme – (isn’t it 14 degrees already?) Siberia will be swamped – sea level flooded and melted permafrost. A mess.

    In the Western Hemisphere – figure Alaska and Canada will be more geologically stable than Greenland. And the tip of South America might be desirable.

    Great question

  12. Chris Winter says:

    When I saw the title of this thread, I had no idea how to answer the question. But having just read yesterday’s post “Berm Notice,” I now know that the best place to live in 2035 would be aboard The Octopus, billionaire Paul Allen’s 416-foot yacht. :-)

    The yacht will probably be retired by 2060 — or sooner, if diesel fuel gets expensive enough. (Maybe Allen could retrofit the power plant from an old Navy nuclear sub…)

    But seriously, I don’t know any reliable way to decide on a good place. My best guess would be some secluded mountainside in Alaska or the Canadian Rockies. I would expect a rather primitive lifestyle.

  13. john atcheson says:

    Well, you need rain, moderate temperatures, passable soils, and some form of energy. I think New England through Nova Scotia, upper New York State, and the Pacific Northwest, including British Columbia are as good as any places.

    The person who was advocating Kentucky might want to take a second look at temperatures — having some 30 plus days above 100 with the kind of humidity they have could be deadly, literally.

    The degree of Mad Max stuff going on is the wild card. Will we revert to medieval days of city states and marauders as folks get displaced? I don’t know, and tend to think not, but it’s certainly in the realm of the possible. Especially if we keep eviscerating governments at the federal, state and local level.

  14. MR says:

    Farther north than upstate NY and New England, into Canada.

    The island of Newfoundland looks particularly good to me – though an island, it is big, rocky, and not too prone to sea level rise damage. It is lightly populated and there are less guns, or at least less guns in the hands of far right nutters (Newfoundlanders are a pretty friendly lot). And it has a pretty big body of water between the island and the Cdn Maritimes and New England, good freshwater supply, potential for local food (from the sea and the land), and lots of wood for home heating.

    Sort of the good points from the Pacific NW but without the high prices and big population centers close to the south (could make the same sort of argument to some extent for Vancouver Island but it is not nearly as isolated from population centers).

    If downscaled climate models are anywhere near correct, Newfoundland could be one of the areas that actually benefits from only a very minor degree of warming, unlike northern areas on the Canadian mainland which are going to come apart under 8 to 14 C increases if we hit 2 to 4 C average globally.

  15. Chris Winter says:

    I too thought of the tip of South America. That area is likely to remain sparesely populated longer. And there’s some beautiful country in Tierra del Fuego.

    Another remote possibility (pun intended) is South Georgia. Once a base for whaling in the far South Atlantic, it is now a wildlife sanctuary. But in 2035, who knows? The island is mountainous enough to be safe from sea-level rise, but storms would be a problem. As would food and clothing.

    Drop the “Photographs” menu and click on the “panoramas” link for some impressive views. (Flash player required.)

  16. Todd Tanner says:

    If you’re serious about it – and I am, we moved five years ago with climate change and our national energy situation in mind – you’ll want to address the following.

    Water. You’ll need plentiful water, but without the prospects for flooding. Groundwater is better than rain water or snow melt, as it’s been naturally filtered and typically has fewer toxic chemicals. But make sure you don’t pick a spot where the underground aquifer is liable to be pumped dry in the next twenty years.

    A small (under 30,000 people), viable local community; preferably one that’s already addressing climate & energy.

    Good topsoil and the continued potential for agriculture, regardless of changing weather patterns.

    Proximity to a rail line. We’re not going to continue supplying food and merchandise with 18 wheelers for too much longer.

    Proximity to renewable energy – hydro, solar, wind, etc.

    A reasonable distance – at least a hundred miles or so – from major cities, which are likely to become pretty difficult places to live.

    In addition, I’d stay away from coastal ecosystems, as they’ll be particularly susceptible to the impacts of ocean acidification (in addition to sea level rise and storm surge). I’d also stay out of areas that are prone to hurricanes and tornadoes, as storms are likely to become stronger and more destructive.

    In short, what you’re looking for are places that are liable to prove resilient in the face of constantly changing weather conditions and less-than-reliable energy inputs. Good luck.

  17. Jörg Haas says:

    Iceland. Far North, with several degrees C warming due to arctic amplification it will become a good place for farming. It is isolated by a large ocean from the rest of world that is going to struggle for survival. Lots of wind, hydro and geothermal energy available.
    The only thing is to stay clear from the coast as the sealevel is going to rise. And not rely on fishing in an increasingly acidic sea.

  18. Prokaryotes says:

    There will be no best place i guess, at least so far i do not see it. And i think Lovelock is to optimistic with UK becoming a refugee hideout.

    To get an idea watch “The Road” movie, which highlights cannibalism.

    The best situation would be to change position, for example with a lifeboat.

    But how will it be with a few people “Breeding pairs” and different scenarios and a time span of hundreds of thousand of years till the climate would balance back.

    You may survive the initial extinction events if you are prepared but with time the situation would grow very grim and basically hopelessness.

    To make a different it takes combined world wide large scale efforts – to suck carbon back out of the atmosphere, to sequester it with biochar.

  19. Todd Tanner says:

    To Leif at #11. Sorry, but the Pacific Northwest, especially Washington, Oregon and southern BC, are going to draw people like honey draws flies. You can tell the good folks in Phoenix, southern California and Las Vegas to stay home and adapt, but they’re not going to listen. Might as well get used to it.

  20. dorveK says:

    On Venus, perhaps…

  21. Adam R. says:

    Ontario, in a zero-energy house, by a lake.

  22. toby says:

    My son-in-law is working in Sweden on a temporary contract. I am hoping my grandchildren and daughter join him there. I will feel better if they stay there for the long term.

    I live in Ireland, which I do not think will do too badly. My wife is from the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, which I hope will also do well. The coral reef may die, so much of the island is hilly.

  23. Prokaryotes says:

    To the optimist in this topic: How do you expect to survive with killer heatwaves during the summer, power outages – no food and clean drinking water, maybe nuclear fallout – tell me.

    People will literally go door to door and take what they can get their hands on – anarchy will break out …

  24. Kota says:

    If in the USA – I would say upper NY too. South side of a rocky mountain. (don’t want the rains to wash away your cave) Grab as many solar panels as you can and face them to the sun. Get enough good top soil to put into a well anchored raised garden and learn to can and compost to keep it going. Even if you are careful – good luck if you break a bone or get sick enough to need an emergency doctor. Try to raise chickens, a few pigs and goats. Hunting with a gun will just alert others that there is human life and where there is human life there will be something to take by force. Get several like minded people to join you doing the same thing near your cave, you will NEED each other!

    I don’t imagine they will live more than 30 years anyway. So no advice for their kids. I mean really … kids with no shots, no doctors, the huge swarms of mosquitoes that have been feeding on all the death from other places. What are their chances anyway? If Mom and Dad live long enough they would know the best way to survive whatever is happening at that time.

  25. Water will be the key factor with the coming heat and droughts. Areas further north and on the western slope of a good mountain range should generally benefit from the prevailing westerly winds to wring the moisture out, producing rain, keeping agriculture healthy, and reducing the wildfire problem.
    Given the probability of too much rain at times, it would be good to live in areas with some elevation and natural drainage. Also a few thousand feet of elevation yields the natural cooling.
    Thus, looking at the US, from far northern California to Washington State, WEST of the mountains. A secondary area would be on the western slopes of the Rockies. In the east, on the western slopes of the Appalachians, from Tennessee up to New York.
    Anything on the east side of a decent mountain range will tend to get the opposite effect of dry air, droughts, and increased fires.
    The problem with most coastal areas is that they will be dealing with some tremendous dislocations, from the actual sea level rise, as well as what will then be recognized as the inevitable 500 years + of sea level rise to come. This will throw everything from governments, tax bases, utilities and water tables into chaos. Nearly everyone underestimates the impact of even a foot of sea level rise which we will likely have by mid century regardless of what is done about greenhouse gas levels at this point, due to the huge lag time between atmospheric temperature and melting the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica. As that reality becomes apparent, and the futility of thinking that the government will do another New Orleans Katrina rebuild and compensation, nearly all coastal cities will be places to avoid. It does not matter if your house is on high ground if the entire city and infrastructure is awash at high tide. The common assumption that seawalls will be the answer is not true in areas of porous rock such as South Florida. You can build any seawall you want, higher seas will just percolate through the limestone and come up through the ground.

  26. Byron Smith says:

    @#16: sea levels around Iceland may actually decline as Greenland melts due to the local effects of the decreasing gravitational pull from the ice sheet. Yes, that means SLR near the equator is going to be even worse.

    See here for more discussion.

  27. Roger Gram says:

    The recent map of drought in 2060-2069 make it look as though Quebec and New Brunswick will be good places to live. For seacoast, the shore of Hudson Bay will be available. Many refugees from the southwestern US will be streaming to northern New England, and Canada will try to close its border, with only limited success. I hope I’m not alive to witness the sad spectacle of this migration.

  28. Tim L. says:

    An ark.

  29. Some European says:

    Great question. This is one I’ve been asking myself for a long long time.

    I think the first thing to say is: nowhere is safe.
    And those who are too attached to one place will ultimately lose. The future belongs to the nomads. Flexibility and adaptability are key to survival.

    Still if I’d choose some place to go, it would be Sweden, Yukon, Alaska, the Baltic States or southern Argentina.

    My main criterion is to stay away from the masses. I wouldn’t want to be in an overpopulated area like London, Paris, New York, the low countries or any metropole in a third world country when supermarkets fall empty and gasoline runs out.

    Second, you need to be able to grow your own food.
    Third, you need to look at long-term diplomacy. Siberia might seem attractive, but with China having 1,5 billion people, nuclear arms and falling dry of melt water, it doesn’t seem a safe place.
    Since Canada might become the richest country in the world thanks to its large area for agriculture and the tar sands and since it has nuclear weapons, it seems like a place nobody is going to attack.
    If you live in the US, be sure to get there before 2016.
    If you live in a mediterranean country, be sure to get out by 2013-2014.
    Some jews saw walls being built around their ghettos and thought they still had time. Don’t be fooled by everybody else’s calm. Don’t hesitate. Get out, even when nobody else is even considering it yet.

    When you look at 2060, southern Argentina might be a good place for your children to be since it’s close to the Antarctic Peninsula, the place where survivor colonies will be built.

    I’m sure some smart people have been studying this issue secretly for a while. They’ve probably already bought pieces of land for their families.

    Those are some of my thoughts.
    I’m personally preparing to go to Sweden by fall 2012. But sometimes I fear it’s going to be too late. Maybe I should go already…

    What do you people think about Greenland?
    Would Finnish lakes be dangerous places for malaria?
    Would Ireland be in hurricane alley?
    Would New Zealand be livable or would it get overcrowded?

  30. Gord says:

    Globalization has provided us with the noose. The question is whether we will hang ourselves by over dependence upon it being there in perpetuity. Assume a breakdown of some degree in long distance transportation systems so local food and water are very important. Top soil is huge now and will be worth gold in the future. You have to take care of your family so I strongly recommend your kids consider the skilled trades as a vocation. Skilled trades are in short supply now and in a faltering future, they will be worth gold. A skilled trades person can get paid in money or in kind. The next is the power supply for the community / your house. With the breakthroughs over the next 40 years, wind, solar and geothermal will probably do the heavy lifting. Hopefully, hydrogen will have been implemented as an energy storage medium. Fuels by weight are the best energy storage medium bar none.

    I’m sure I’ve left stuff out of the list.

    Now sit down with a map and best estimates of future climate in various regions and start evaluating each against your list of geographic necessities.

    Other reasonable assumptions can be made.

    We will be poorer in the future so our governments will be poorer. Those once in a 1000 year storms have the potential to destroy huge chunks of infrastructure. Infrastructure is very, very expensive to replace and may be beyond the reach of poorer governments. Large scale infrastructure may proactively be replaced with smaller scale, dispersed, portable and localized versions. These will be able to take many hits because there is no single point of failure.

    Assume that electrons will be more available than carbon fuels. There is only one type of electricity and it can be transformed to other forms very easily. Carbon fuels come in different types that are very difficult, if not impossible, to convert to other forms. They are not renewable. Electrically powered stuff, including cars, will rock.

    Community / neighbours will be gold. Your survival, your family’s survival will depend on good neighbours just as they depend on you. So that means you need to make your move to your new location over the next decade or so. You and your extended family will be well established in the community by the time the troubles really start to bite.

    Good luck.

  31. Hendo says:

    Perhaps we will be “encouraged” by the insurance companies to settle where they are prepared to accept risk. In Oz, some areas are increasingly difficult to insure because of premium hikes, tough conditions and exclusions. Since it is understood that fiscal persuasion is arguably the most powerful peaceful social tool, home owners will quickly seek out more secure sites according to the insurability of their assets.
    We might also ask where populations from areas like the Maldives will go as their lands are totally submerged.
    And consider local social impacts as climate refugees take up positions in places where they may not be welcome. It all sounds like an interesting time ahead of us.

  32. Mark S says:

    Any of the rocky mountain states starting from Colorado/Utah and going north. Expect the population of places like Bozeman and Boise to skyrocket. I’m around Denver and expect it will be a fairly nice place to be 50 years from now.

  33. Jim Beacon says:

    Bottom Line: The Pacific Northwest of the North American Continent. It come out clearly far ahead on *any* consideration/comparisons with any factor one might care to name.

    [JR: As long as you dodge the wildfires. I uspect a few ideal places are going to get very crowded!]

  34. Gord says:

    #22. I am not aware of Canada having any nuclear weapons of any type. In the past nuclear tipped warheads for anti-aircraft missiles were supplied by the USA for NORAD. But that stopped decades ago.

    We have nuclear power though.

    Canada will be “invaded” in the future. It has too much of everything and it is too far north. The question remains whether the “invasion” will be by invitation only.

  35. knoxkp says:

    I’m not sure I want to share but since those who hang here are people I wouldn’t mind meeting I’ll tell you that I’d pick northern Manitoba or Ontario (Depends on how much sea level rises. There are a lot of freshwater lakes, fish, small mammals and lumber.

  36. ChicagoMike says:

    Which major, northern US city is located far from the coasts yet has access to ample water supplies and has lots of available (and cheap) real estate. The answer is obvious: DETROIT!!

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned it yet, but I expect the motor city to come back in a big way in the coming century, especially if city leaders are able to transform it into a center of clean energy and battery technology as some are trying to.

    The Lions will probably still be terrible though, so I think I’ll stay in Chicago ;)

  37. Robert says:

    Up in altitude, north in latitude (for those north of the equator).

    The northwest sounds nice as long as the Cascadian volcanoes and subduction zone stay sleeping. Don’t even think about the Yellowstone supervolcano awakening; if it does, game over then.

    In my humble opinion the biggest problem will be the conflict between the existing residents and climate refugees. People coming from coastal areas and southern states will create a MAJOR culture clash. We cannot even remotely think about what will happen then.

    Will we fortify our southern border to keep climate refugees out of the US as Mexico and Central America slide into anarchy?

    Will Canada fortify its southern border to keep refugees from the US out as America slides into anarchy?

  38. William P says:

    This is a great and important post for one overriding reason: it shifts thinking from mitigation of CO2 to adaptation and survival – exactly where thinking should be now.

    Anyone still thinking mitigation by governments agreeing on limiting emissions, or building enough solar panels and wind generators to handle the problem is not paying close attention to events. The race between emission growth and emission reduction efforts is unfortunately “no contest”.

    James Lovelock of the UK, perhaps the most experienced and eminent atmospheric scientist, said in his latest book, The Vanishing Face of Gaia, that man may survive in the UK, places like Norway and Sweden and the polar regions like northern Canada and Siberia.

    But he stresses something important: food will be the problem. Escalating temperatures in food producing regions will prevent wheat, corn, beans and other crops from surviving. Food shortages, not rising seas, is likely to be the first big wake up alarm for mankind.

    When food shortages set in, what will the Deniers say then!

    So, where to live? In above mentioned countries/places. Life survived in polar regions in a hot world millions of years ago. But don’t plan on coming home anytime soon. These regions will be, if he survives, the new home of man for a long, long time.

    Lovelock foresees at most one billion of our nearly seven billion humans surviving. He adds, “Of course, I could be wrong.”

    But the man who played a central role in identifying and mitigating the ozone hole is, unfortunately for us, not often wrong.

  39. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    I agree with the move now crowd. Right now my suburban house is the same dollar value as 50 acres at 1500 feet. Once the reality of what faces us hits the general population, this will not be so. When no one wants to live in a city, prices crash. When eveyone wants to live in Oregon, prices rise.

    When times get troublesome and desperate people do desperate things, you do not want to be the newbie in town. When times are troublesome strangers are not going to be very welcome.

    When you and your neighbours are “off grid” and your supply is down your neighbours will be able to help. When you and your neighbours are on the grid no one will be able to help when the grid goes off line.

    I do not want to be drinking city water whan the water authorities have little water and no cash.

    My family are in the move later crowd.

  40. Peter M says:

    The maritime provinces of Canada (New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland) will be increasingly popular- with sparse populations (now) and milder weather in the future- Though these regions could experience sea rise, and extreme storms. They offer much in future climate scenarios easily escaping the inferno of the mid north American continent.

    From here at my location in southern New England- inland eastern Connecticut- we will face increasing heat as the century proceeds. Hartford Connecticut could face under a high emission scenario by 2050 over 60 90 degree temperatures per summer- and 10 days over 100. Though this will be considered far more tolerable then the conditions at mid continent, the south, Great Plains and southwest.

    In New England- climate refugees from the gulf coast have appeared in eastern CT- also popular in western Massachusetts in the green fertile Connecticut river valley is Northampton and Amherst.

    Eastern New England- Providence, New Bedford, Fall River, Plymouth and Boston have a surprisingly mild climate- though the region is hurricane prone- the Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635 decimated the region, as well as the Great New England hurricane of 1938- which also pummeled Connecticut- destroying the family home of Hartford native Katherine Hepburn at Fenwick on Block Island sound.

    Vermont is beautiful- and should see in migration to Burlington on lake Champlain- but also the Connecticut river valley. New Hampshire along its tiny coast and the Lakes region will provide a mild climatic refuge, as well as coastal Maine- and also mid state around Bangor- home of Stephen King.

    The extreme fringes of the continent will see the opposite of the Sunbelt Migration of the last century- real estate could begin to rise in these regions as early as this decade due to the influx of those seeking refuge from the heat and dry conditions elsewhere.

  41. Richard L says:

    As several others have pointed out, we are so interdependent that I can’t imagine anyplace being ‘good’ for long.

    When the big collapse occurs, modern agriculture and modern industry will fail hard. Supplies will run out as demand for basic goods will skyrocket beyond primitive production and distribution capabilities. If you or your neighbor can’t make something (clothes, shoes, matches, bullets, glass jars for food storage, a wood stove, a hoe, an axe, etc.), can you do without it? If you can’t do without it – what can be substituted?

    Can you have enough to share with your neighbors so they don’t steal from you?

    Can you protect yourself and your family from the hordes of folks who are displaced first without degrading into the “Lord of the Flies” or “mad max” survival mode?

    I pray every day (and I am not a religious person) for some wakeup call – and a price on carbon. Perhaps if two cat 5 hurricanes hit Wash DC in one year US politicians, and then the world, will take action.

  42. For a prosperous future I suggest Greenland. Dairy farming is a bonanza there, with milk going at several Euro per litre. Make sure to build up soil (using biochar), not spoil it like the Vikings did.

    Iceland would be a good idea, too, but you need some venture capital. A business to start there would be reforestation plus carbon credit banking.

  43. Prokaryotes says:

    Given that small “arcs” could survive the initial climate shift, how do they think they will advance, with a crippled system shrunk to some “hole”, possible underground.

    Ecosystems need 100.000 years to grow, as we know them today and there is the chance that earth faces a runaway climate change – the “Venus Syndrome”.

    Even it would be likely that an alien species or another predator forms more capable to the new conditions. The planet will no longer favor us and everything that crawls out there will be a threat. Plaques, new viruses, bacteria, fungus and then you have the pollution from humans and climate change.

    Of course i advance the time frame, but that’s what it is about in the long run. If the climate shifts it’s game over for the human race.

  44. Barry says:

    I have to wonder how many people saying to move to northern areas of USA or into Canada have ever tried to grow food there!

    The glaciers scraped the topsoil away. Rain has leached most of the soils into acidity and low nitrogen. Great if you love picking rocks. Good luck feeding the millions already there…not less the huge migration.

    There is a reason most parts of the world can’t feed themselves. There are few places with good enough agricultural soils to pull it off food for tens of millions even. And most of these need water and nitrogen brought to them now.

    Go into any grocery store in northern USA or Canada and see where all the food comes from in the winter.

    If you are not literally standing on good top soil, forget it.

    Growing food in Alaska?! It will still be dark half the year.

    The reality is that the ONLY good place to live in the future is on a planet where humans actually cut CO2 emissions rapidly during 2010-2030. Everywhere else will suck badly.

  45. From Peru says:


  46. From Peru says:

    Gliese 581 f?

  47. dhogaza says:

    totally off topic but …

    The Lions will probably still be terrible though

    Portland, OR has solved their defensive line problems, just as we’ve solved most of the country’s problems :)

    Joe, you mention the PNW being OK if one’s careful to dodge the wildfires. It’s a bit more complex than that. Portland, for instance, gets most of that water from a lake in the cascades, near Mt. Hood. The surrounding watershed is mostly old growth, but back in the 1960s and 1970s it was partially logged (illegally) by the USFS. During this time, the city had several incidents related to heavy rains washing mud from clearcuts into the reservoir and thus into the city water supply (it’s unfiltered). Though the feds are trying to force the installation of a filtration system, a large-scale fire denuding the watershed would lead to a hell of a lot of soil being washed into the lake, and it’s not too hard to imagine a future filtration system being somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of gunk in the water.

    Also, of course the watershed holds its water in the form of snow for much of the year. A shorter snow season would mean (even if precip stays the same) an expansion of the reservoir. I have no idea as to the practicality of this.

    Neither of these observations might be problematic in practice, I’m no expert.

    But … things are a lot more subtle and complex than a lot of people imagine.

  48. Virveli says:

    Couple of people have mentioned the Baltic states and Fennoscandia. One fortunate circumstance over here will be, particularly in the northern Baltic, that some of the projected sea level rise will be compensated by the post-glacial isostatic rebound (land lift). For rates of land rebound see here:

    Someone asked about this, and, no I don’t think malaria-carrying mosquitoes would be a risk in Finland. Endemic malaria is not found at Central Europe’s wetlands at the moment, so when this habitat will move to the north and to Finland, I’d expect the general situation remain the same. Malaria has been endemic in Finland in the 1700s and 1800s but recent research (Huldén, Huldén & Heliövaara 2005) has indicated this was an “indoor” (typically mild) disease linked with animal husbandry practices within the dwellings and in the separate animal shelters where the temps remained high enough year around.

  49. Anne says:

    In caves, of course. We’re headed back to the stone age. Personally, I’m looking forward to being dragged by my hair. Arggghhhh.

  50. Paulm says:

    Eveypryones welcome to come to Canada.
    We’ve got lots of space and water.
    And of course oil and gass to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
    Food might be a wee problem.
    PS guns arn’t tolerated. Please leave them behind. Please.

  51. Prospace Environmentalist says:

    Mars, if Elon Musk’s SpaceX able to make their plan happen. It seems hopeless to stay on Earth…

  52. Some European says:

    Oh! Canada doesn’t have any weapons of mass destruction? Guess it won’t be that safe anymore, considering its blood-thirsty neighbor.

    OK, I’ll trust Virveli on Finland being safe from malaria.

    Guess I’ll stick to northern Europe as the safest place to be for most of my life.
    I’ll have fun learning Swedish watching all of Pippi Långstrump’s episodes during coming months, yay!

  53. David Smith says:

    I can’t believe that we can have this discussion and go right by the obvious fact that we must stop using fossil fuels. It’s like, I can’t stop using fossil fuels to save my life, so… must move to Canada.

    This is a ridiculous question. There is a suggestion in it that you will be able to make a decision to move, sell your house here, buy a new house there, etc just like just like you might have done 3 years ago.

    A more appropriate question would be, What did each of you do this week to reduce the threats of global warming? I read posts and comments on this site every day. There is a suprisingly short step from talking with great earnestness about issues (and not doing anything) to deciding that nothing can be done, game over.

    We blow right by the part that is hard and involves creativity and commitment and personal sacrifice.

  54. I strongly believe the Arctic is where you should aim for in the long-term, because that’s one of the few places in the world where carrying capacity (land, mineral resources) will be opening up even as it is falling (AGW, peak oil, mineral depletion) almost everywhere else. Consider:

    * Arctic melting will result in the opening of the Northern Sea Route and North-West Passage. In the former – and under conservative estimates of ice melting – freight traffic is forecast to increase by a factor of 10 in just the next decade.

    * The Arctic is to become Russia’s “main strategic resource base” by 2020, and there’s accelerating development of energy and mineral projects throughout the Arctic Rim.

    * Nowadays its land is cheap, but it won’t remain so indefinitely, so getting in on the action early is prudent. Now would be a great time to consider snapping up land, assets and company shares so as to establish yourself a secure base for an uncertain future.

    * That doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to move there just now. For a start there’s little to do there, at least for now, for most people. Follow your own dreams in the next two decades. Just *don’t* (unless you’re very rich) sacrifice your sweat and tears to acquire properties that may become valueless within one generation (e.g. be they multi-million dollar seaside California residences or residences in places like Phoenix).

    * The best US locations ATM in terms of current worth vs. future prospects are in the Great Lakes. Housing is cheap there, thanks to deindustrialization and emigration, but there will likely be a manufacturing revival in the wake of rising US protectionism; also more people will flock there from collapsing regions such as the South-West. Shouldn’t have major energy problems thanks to its being one of the best places on Earth for wind power. And it’s close to Canada…

    * Consider moving to Canada. Not necessarily do it, of course; but as an Arctic power with huge open spaces, it surely has bright prospects.

    * Same goes in relation to Europeans – especially Spaniards, Portuguese, Italians and Greeks – in relation to the Scandinavian countries. Probably best to not bother with moving to the Russian Arctic – too much paperwork and cultural clashes – but it’s a great place for making big returns on *financial* investment.

    * BTW, fun factoid: you don’t even need any docs whatsoever to settle in Spitsbergen, because though under Norwegian sovereignty, it is an international territory.

    If this has spiked your interest in the Far North, I have a blog Arctic Progress which you can follow to keep track of the thawing places of the world.

  55. Alteredstory says:

    @David Smith #54, I don’t know how much time you spend on this blog, but I don’t think your point is really relevant to this place.

    Most of this blog focuses on data or ways to reduce fossil fuel consumption. There’s not really any basis for acting like the people who read or comment on this blog are “going right by the obvious fact that we must stop using fossil fuels”.

  56. I live in New Zealand which may well be the best place in the world to survive climate change. For so long we have compared ourselves to Australia – the luck country – where they just dig wealth out of the ground. But Australia is already seeing stresses from water depletion, whilst New Zealand has a realtive abundance of H20.

  57. Jim Eager says:

    The Great Lakes basin, aka the rust belt, will continue to have good water availability, although Lake Ontario could just barely become an inland salt water sea should the entirety of Antarctica ever melt in a few millennea.

  58. Ominous Clouds Overhead says:

    The only method most of the residents of this planet will have to migrate is to use their feet. That may include some of us in the developed world, also. Migration will be a thing only the wealthy can do, it already is, if you look at the majority of the people on this planet. Even most Americans can’t just pack up and leave, they don’t have the wherewithal.

    I’m staying where I’m at. I’d rather die with the common folk than try to live surrounded by rich weasels.

  59. catman306 says:

    A microclimate is a local atmospheric zone where the climate differs from the surrounding area. The term may refer to areas as small as a few square feet (for example a garden bed) or as large as many square miles (for example a valley). Microclimates exist, for example, near bodies of water which may cool the local atmosphere, or in heavily urban areas where brick, concrete, and asphalt absorb the sun’s energy, heat up, and reradiate that heat to the ambient air: the resulting urban heat island is a kind of microclimate.

    So stay where you are if you have a favorable micro-climate.

    Learn to provide your own food from your favorable micro-climate. Rooftop gardens or backyard plots and front yard plots. Plan to grow a little of everything and a specialized crop. Trade that with you neighbors vegetables to vary your diet.

    Compost everything organic to make good soil. In some agrarian societies one’s wealth was measured by the size of their compost pile. China used ‘night soil’ compost as fertilizer for a thousand years and their peasants fed themselves and those who lived in the cities. Theirs was a sustainable human system. Apparently, ours is not.

    Every climate change prediction must be based on averages. But there’s quite a difference between getting 50 inches of rain per year at the rate of an inch per week, and getting 50 inches of rain in one month with the other eleven being bone dry. And what if those years with extreme rainfall events, or even, which season of the year gets the rain, wasn’t predictable in advance? How will we grow food in that case?

    We won’t, although some individuals might. Be one of them.

    Climate change is weather chaos.

    Here’s a climate change predication you can count on: Summers will generally be warmer than winters. All other predictions will suffer with the reality that in some years they are completely wrong. This is because they are averages, based on other averages, but your local weather effects you personally and directly and merely contributes to those averages.

    Like the guy with one foot in a block of ice and the other on hot coals. “On the average, I’m doing just fine.”

  60. Paulm says:

    It’s going to happen before 2020…..

    Facing the hard local realities of a warming world
    Climate changes are also beginning to affect human settlement patterns.

    The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has rejected two coastal developments – one in Lakes Entrance and one near Wilsons Promontory – for fear of inundation by bigger, more frequent storms.

    And councils, starting with Wodonga, are developing heatwave plans to move vulnerable groups to cooler areas if necessary. Deaths increased in Melbourne during the late-January heatwave of 2009.

  61. John McCormick says:

    RE # 55

    Alteredstory, your point is really relevant to this place.

    David Smith @ #55 made a valid point that this blog is not relevant.

    I have read the comments and the common theme appeared to be moving to a safe place. Who gets to move? The rich? The young and unattached? The pioneers who know how to grow crops in frigid latitudes on land they will acquire with their wealth?

    Comments failed to pass even the most elementary realism test. By the time I got to David’s comment, I finally found a bit of realism. This blog failed the realism test also.

    Moving to wherever means that wherever will have to accommodate yet another dependent. Tell me that Aspen or Telluride are self sustaining villages. They certainly are beautiful places (and likely post 2035 safe places)to call home but bring a bag full of money. Us Yankees are not going to be welcomed in Canada or anywhere else when the sh** hits the fan. We are the criminals in the AGW future.

    John McCormick

  62. Paulm says:

    So when do we think air flights will become a thing for only the rich?
    Peak oil and extreme unpredictable weather … I give it max 3-5 yrs.

    BA looks like it will be going under in next 1yr or so along with quite a few others..
    Insurance companies not far behind with these crippling events.

    Welcome to Planet Eaarth.

  63. John McCormick says:

    RE # 58

    It should have read:

    Alteredstory, your point is really NOT relevant to this place.

    John McCormick

  64. Walter Miale says:

    Paraphrasing Naomi Klein: it’s like Baghdad. Who wants to live in a green zone surrounded by a sea of red?

  65. The thing is, what ever place turns out to be the most desirable will eventually be inundated with people seeking refuge… so there will be no safe place… if and when civilization collapses.

    I think I’ll reread Lucifer’s Hammer.
    And maybe On the Beach.

    I do know that I want to insulate myself from rising prices for gas, food and maybe water. So a place with a well, a garden, near a small town, buy an electric scooter. Raise chickens, keep bees. Stuff like that.

  66. Lew Johns says:

    Global Warming doesn’t mean everywhere at every time. The disappearance of Arctic Ice is going to change climates in the Northern Hemisphere in ways not yet in any way understood. Since Growing Food is all that matters and it is unclear as of now where the Climate will be hospitable to that purpose it is difficult to have any good idea of where to be in the years hence. I suspect that for much of inland North America and Europe it will mean Winters with more cold and storm extreme events. Likewise IMO Summers will be hotter in average Temp and have more extreme weather events.

    If there is water to grow food there will be water to drink but where the rain will fall is unclear.

    If the food supply is significantly compromised by climate change and associated extreme weather events (and that seems inevitable) IMO all else will be moot as industry and commerce will cease, Government and it’s institutions will fail and Billions will Die. I fear our highly organized and interdependent civilization is extremely fragile and won’t tolerate even a partial disruption of the food supply.

    The best advice I have heard is to learn to grow something to eat. From experience this is a non-trivial undertaking, whatever the scale.

    Gloomy, I know.

  67. William P says:

    Paulm #51
    Good comment. What do you know about agriculture in Canada? I mean pretty far north but where climate may be tolerable. Any kind of food production up there at all? Native people survived in the far north, but mainly on meat.

    As mentioned above (Barry #45 – great point), top soil is thin and well leeched in the far north. Are there pockets of rich soil anywhere? A map showing these areas would be valuable.

    The nations of Norway and Sweden, for example have people living far north. Maybe they import all there food. Anyone know?

    I’m glad people are thinking “end game” instead of efficient light bulbs here. Its not happy talk, but its reality.

  68. David Smith says:

    Altered @ 55 – If a third of the climate change effects that are discussed on this site come to pass (And from what I can tell more is changing and faster than anyone expected) there is no place on earth that you will be safe. There are probably places where you might be able to survive longer and more comfortably than other places but there is no place you can go to avoid all impacts. And, relocating does nothing to help to solve the problem (stable climate).

  69. Paulm says:

    #50 Ann,

    Climate change is going to have a huge impact on female emancipation. For this reason I find it puzzling that we haven’t seen/ heard them speaking up on action on climate change.

    (Joe, guess were mine was when I did the first post)

  70. Raul M. says:

    My Dad after having thought of society
    Bought an odd book called Edible Weeds.
    Luckily, the local grocery still good.

  71. ken levenson says:

    Cleveland OH:
    great lake, inland, city with infrastructure, history. Well positioned to “florish” with the demise of the Atlantic coast.

  72. Wit's End says:

    It’s quite difficult to grow enough food to feed yourself, under the best of circumstances. It must be preserved for the winter months, for one thing.

    Our ancestors were able to survive the lean times because nature was abundant. Fish were leaping out of rivers, buffalo were carpeting plains, the woods were full of birds and other game, the trees dropped fruit and nuts, brambles were laden with berries.

    Those days are gone. We have destroyed the Garden of Eden…eaten it, mowed it down, and poisoned it.

    Not to mention which, none of the worst-case scenarios depicted in the preceding comments acknowledges another existential threat – the entire ecosystem is in free-fall collapse.

    1. coral reefs and phytoplankton in the oceans are on their way to extinction and

    2. so are trees, the foundation of all other terrestrial life.

    Both are being destroyed by toxic emissions, that will not be resolved even if – ha ha – the CO2 emissions are curtailed or captured.

    Somebody above said, it’s time to stop talking about preventing climate change and start talking about adaptations and mitigation, because that is the realistic scenario that we are already left with.

    Who’s going to decide who gets to survive? Because it will be only a tiny percentage of humans, and an even tinier percentage of other species.

  73. ken levenson says:

    and i agree with Paulm #59. I’d add that the big insurance companies will walk away from the coasts in the next 5 years – then watch the uncertainty rise and the reality sink in…and values drop…

  74. Charles Darwin Jr says:

    How about the moon?

    I live in Australia, which is probably a terrible place for climate change. However, Australian (I’m an american) permanent residents are allowed to move to New Zealand which is a good place I’ve heard.

    I am hoping my daughter can move there when she grows up.

    Keep up the good work Joe. We need someone like you, combining the science with a sense of urgency.


  75. Esop says:

    I gotta agree with #43. Greenland seems nice, especially the west coast.
    A nice and balmy 50 something degrees in the middle of the winter seems tempting.

  76. Keith says:

    are you kidding?? have you been in upstate NY???
    The Mohawk Valley and upper Hudson Valley are vast regions of rich arable land.

  77. Alteredstory says:

    To David and John, I was thinking of this exercise as more of a diversion than a practical effort at moving people to a better place. Of course that’s not a solution, but I spend most of my time thinking about and working on this issue on increasing public understanding and reducing emissions, and it’s fun to think about ways to possibly handle issues in the future.

    For me this whole exercise is borderline moot since the ideal places to live won’t be able to support nearly the number of people they’d need to to act as refuges from the ravages of what’s coming.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think many people commenting here really expect to move somewhere to hide from climate change – that would imply a gross misunderstanding of the issue that I wouldn’t expect here.

    MY point was that I don’t think it’s necessary to rail at this crowd about that. Maybe I’m giving people here too much credit, but I don’t think the blog post or the comments on it are being offered up as alternatives to wholehearted commitment to cutting emissions.

    Again, maybe I read this whole thing wrong, and everybody here is serious about giving up and hiding in New Zealand or whatever, but I don’t think so. As far as I can tell it’s an exercise about envisioning the future based on what we know, and musing on where you would ideally like to have your grandkids located, not a brainstorming session for moving the world’s climate refugees to Nova Scotia.

  78. Some European says:

    @David Smith #54 and the following discussion.
    Please listen to what this man has to say at 1h07m of this beautiful documentary called Climate Voices.

    I agree with him.
    But that doesn’t mean I can’t move to another place and get used to living in very modest conditions while I try to keep focused on the battle. I’m sure the question is not about where we can build a mansion and look from a distance at how the masses are trotting over each other while we have dinner but rather about where we can go to avoid being among the first western victims of chaos and remain part of the solution.
    In any case, we’re already locked in to utter catastrophe, however agressive our mitigation efforts might become in the coming years.

  79. What’s going to be important in the future are strong, intact communities. Fossil fuel made us the first people on earth with no practical need of our neighbors, and as a result our communities have withered. But when times are tough, neighbors are what get you through. So settle in, go to church or synagogue or mosque or whatever, support your local food growers and other businesses, volunteer at the nursing home, be a useful part of a place. That will pay you more dividends (psychic and practical) than stockpiling food and oiling your guns

  80. George Ennis says:

    I think the Peace River valley in Canada offers some possibility of refuge until mid century. There is some capacity to grow crops here already. The tricky part is going to be access to water since most of the rivers making up this drainage basin are glacier fed.

  81. yogi-one says:

    I vote for the Puget Sound area of the PNW. The two mountain chains and the Sound act as extreme weather buffers. There should be adequate rainfall, although the glaciers here will melt back substantially as elsewhere.

    Crucially, the land rises abruptly from the sea – not a big coastal plain like the East Coast. Half amile in and you can easily be 500 ft above sea level.

    The big dangers here – Mt Rainier erupting – vanishingly small chance in any given year, but overdue already if it is to continue it’s cycle of erupting every 700 years or so, and the huge (8.0) earthquake, also historically overdue, but hopefully smaller quakes will release some the pressure and avoid the Big One.

    Not saying we won’t be affected, just saying we have some natural risk-buffers in the region.

  82. Wit's End says:

    bill mckibben,

    what utter tripe.

    [JR: Snip. Seriously!]

  83. Bob Wallace says:

    Oh, geez. Topics like this really bringing out doomers and survivalists don’t they.

    Let me fantasize how it will play out in North America.

    Change will most likely be slow. Now some sort of Crash!!! like the oil peakers like to imagine in which we all grab our personal ton of firearms and retreat to caves.

    (I’m assuming/hoping we get smart enough to not tip ourselves over.)

    We’ll move slowly higher and closer to the poles. Those living in 100 year flood plains will move a few miles into 500 year flood plains and then the 500 year people will move even higher. Those along the Atlantic seaboard will start to slowly pull back as they get tired of worrying about Cat 5+ hurricanes. Those who live in places which get hotter will put more solar panels on their roofs, turn up the AC, increase the insulation, and stick it out for a long time. We’ll do a lot more desalinization.

    Big cities such as San Diego and LA will be very place-sticky. A few cities will be greatly changed as the lowest parts become sea-flooded.

    We’re starting to build high speed rail, and if the rest of the system is like California’s we’ll be moving food around the country with electricity. We’ve got the technology we need to make electricity with non-fossil fuels.

    Farm crops will move to areas where the new weather suits them better. We’ll develop new crops which will allow us to continue farming in areas which have become hotter and receive less water. We’ll eat less snow peas and more dates and olives. The valleys of Oregon will become the new Napa Valley.

    Food will become more expensive which means that farmland will become more valuable and we’ll quit building on the good stuff. We’ll eat less meat and use more of our cropland for ‘people food’.

    Our population will continue to drop. We will feel the pressure to take in some climate refugees, but we’ll increase the height of our housing in order to pack people more densely. And we’ll put a lot of pressure on the newly arrived to limit their family size.

    Now, if we do screw up and don’t start aggressively getting off fossil fuels much more quickly than we are now doing, just speed that movie up a lot following our self-inflicted tip over.

    We’ll move a lot farther north and much higher up. And we’ll put a lot more pressure on our ‘breeders’ to be less breedie.

    And then we’ll experience our butts turning to toast.

    Unless there’s something that climate scientists don’t know or haven’t told us about forcing mechanisms I think we’re going to make it. We’ve gotten our wake-up call and we are waking up. I think we’re in the early days of a cleantech hockey stick.

  84. Ed Hummel says:

    There’s some benefit to wading through over 80 other comments before coming up with one of my own. I think the people who have pointed out that food will be the most important factor in what happens over the next 5-10 years or so are being the most realistic. One must remember that increasing food access problems in the near future are going to lead to massive structutal problems in society. Disasters from storms like Katrina may be horrible for the local people involved, but they also affect the rest of us in much more subtle ways that usually involve food supplies. As weather disasters continue to multiply, food shortages will become more acute and make every other problem that arises seem quite trivial, no matter where one lives, unless there is a well developed and varied food production infrastructure in the area. Sadly, there are very few such places left in the US and even throughout the world as food has increasingly become a commodity rather than the underpinning of all civilization. Gail was also right on the nose when pointing out that there is no way we can revert back to the way our ancestors in this country were able to feed themselves since all the wild foods are mostly gone in the numbers needed to sustain millions of people and most of the ecosystems that supported them and us are also on the verge of collapse. So I think that it is an irrelevent exercise to try to pick some spots over the next 30 and 60 years that might be more benign than others since the local ecosystems of most places will probably be disrupted too much by the swift climate changes to be able to support substantial populations of most living things, never mind humans. I’ve noted that here in central Maine, the climate has been gradually becoming more benign over the last 30 years and one of the ways I can prove it is that we can more consistently grow eggplants in the summer now. But we also have been subject to more spells of drought and excessive rain, both of which have had an impact of both local agriculture and infrastructure. I do expect this area to continue moderating over the next 30 years in AVERAGE conditions as the Hadley cells continue expanding and the Arctic continues warming, but I wouldn’t want to make any bets about 60 years, especially if the worst case scenaria is allowed to unfold.

  85. Joan Savage says:

    As someone who lives in upstate New York I’m noticing how many of the commentators assume that this is the place to come in 2035. If you read Peter Gleick’s water studies, the Lake Ontario basin including the Finger Lakes, and the Mohawk River valley,indeed all of upstate New York, do not have much in the way of water reserves. We are very dependent on consistent annual weather conditions for crops. Hilly terrain means we don’t have a river system suitable for developing irrigation.

    Historically, the area has suffered from occasional too-wet years and drought years. This past summer had fungus problems with squashes, yet a bumper crop of tomatoes. The frequency of erratic weather conditions is expected to increase with climate change.
    I would be happy to stay here, provided we diversify crops to hedge our bets on what will succeed. It is not a big enough area to feed migrants from the lower 30 states, however.

    Here’s a thought: the Hopi people are living where the Anasazi failed. The Hopi have figured out how to grow corn in a desert. The cultivars that work are planted several feet apart, and each cluster of kernels is several inches below land surface in little pits into which water is carefully poured by hand. The cultivar has the ability to send down deep roots, and stalk up through the pit. The corn growers in the future drought regions of the Corn Belt might consider developing the ability to plant like the Hopi.

  86. Alteredstory says:

    Easy, there Wits, no need to get abusive…

  87. Prokaryotes says:

    Wit’s End, bill mckibben did exactly that. He outlined the best possible scenario and maybe the only possible way to survive (via small communities and local organization). The food you can grow in your backyard is basically all that counts.

    People project on current estimates and gut feelings and current experience. But it is almost impossible to assess and most people here i think are to naive. Most people will just die, because only a few (i do not talk about rich people) have the will to survive. And from these few only even less have the intelligence to do so and from those only a small fraction will do the right decisions and have the luck to get through the chaos. But what is more waiting after lets say 2060?

    Even if people find the best spot, health problems, psychological impacts, chemical and radioactive contamination will be an growing issue. The last small climate change made the Neanderthaler extinct, though with all these factors i have high doubts that humans and particular the human body/organism could possibly withstand a major climate shift.

    If you study extinct civilizations, to my understanding all have in common, they vanished in no time. And all the big empires did so, because of climate change of some sort and those were tiny shift, nothing in compare we tempering with today.

    The level of the emissions the human species is releasing into the atmosphere is UNPRECEDENTED in the history of the earth. The magnitude we dealing with here, is in the same league as the biggest extinction events the earth saw. Humans will vanish within an eye blink if the species doesn’t counter the major climate shift with sucking the heat trapping gases back from the atmosphere – starting yesterday.

    But guess Lovelock believes that human are to stupid to prevent climate change, and guess what he is right. Humans are to flawed, to slow in adapting to our environment and to slow in moving on and advance as a species.

  88. Deborah Stark says:

    I hope this thread can be made ongoing as I think the question posed is eliciting some very interesting responses. People may find that they want to return to this thread to post their thoughts as they emerge. There certainly is a lot to think about. :-)

    I’ll start with a recommendation: Kim Stanley Robinson’s climate change trilogy, including “Forty Signs of Rain”, “Fifty Degrees Below” and “Sixty Days and Counting”. Here is a July 2007 interview with Robinson following the publication of the third book:

    For me, this series provided a believable preview of what day-to-day life might well be like as the impacts of climate change become more severe and unpredictable. The characters are various and there is someone (or several people) in this story with whom each one of us can easily identify. In other words, this is a large story presented in human scale. Robinson cares very deeply about our future and it shows.

    As for good places to live in 20, 30, 40 years and further, I think about this all the time in regard to my son and daughter-in-law and two small granddaughters in particular and all young people in general. At this time it is still easier for me based on both direct observation and quite a lot of reading to think in terms of where it will most likely not be good to live in as few as 20 years from now. In the US, that would be the southwestern states (drought, extreme heat, intractable forest fires, water shortage), the southeastern quadrant of the country (extreme summer heat, increasingly extreme temperature fluctuations year-round, increasingly intense storms) and perhaps the lower mid west (drought, volatile storm fronts, flooding, possibly extreme summer heat.)

    I’m currently in the northeast (Boston) and am not likely to leave this area again. However, I have for the last year or so been following what is going on in Detroit (city-wide cooperative farming enterprise, organized reclamation and re-use of industrial and corporate waste, local funding of small community-based businesses that provide genuinely useful services and so on.) If I were twenty years younger I think I would go out there and pitch in as I find this people-powered urban renewal process intensely inspiring. I think all of our major urban areas would be well advised to watch and learn from what is occurring in Detroit.

    I’ve been thinking about the kinds of things that may become in increasingly short supply or simply no longer available – and a lot sooner than we may like to think. To some extent this would be a regional consideration but, for example, depending on where one is living there may well be increasingly noticeable shortages of many types of food. In fact I think this is inevitable. Also: good cotton and other natural fiber clothing, footwear not made from synthetic material, decent tools and building materials, decent art supplies, etc. I’m sure everyone can easily add to this brief list in no time. This isn’t fun to think about but I am feeling it to be increasingly important to consider and plan for accordingly.

    Back later. I’m very interested in what everyone has to say here. People need to start talking about this stuff on a regular basis in my opinion.

  89. I guess I’m fortunate. I learned how to garden and preserve (put up, or can) from my grandmother. It can be tricky, even dangerous for some foods however. I dream of digging a root cellar. Gramma stored her root veggies in a dark, cool place in her garage in Bellingham Washington.
    Chickens and ducks are easy keepers as long as you shelter them from the raccoons etc. at night.

    It is easier than you might think to provide yourself with the majority of what you eat (Gramma did it into her 80s), and buy what you can’t produce. It’s just an enormous amount of work!

    I also think communities that engage in barter will do better than a pure currency economy.

    I hear some say to invest in gold to protect yourself from the coming collapse. You can’t eat gold. I’ve looked into seed storage, but so many desirable seeds are viable for 2 years or less, that’s not practical even for your own use, much less as an investment. So I’m thinking your best investment is to develop a skill set that will be valuable in a collapsing civilization. Teach what you know to your kids. Do it while we still have the internet.

    Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

  90. Roger says:

    OMGosh: Saturday Night Live openning skit includes: ~”My holiday wish is for Congress to pass some comprehensive climate change legislation before I melt…” –Frosty the Snowman. Now we’re talking folks!

  91. GFW says:

    A few “meta” comments – I feel like some people here are going way beyond Joe’s 25 year and 50 year scenarios. Sea level rise is not going to be a big issue on those time scales (in all but the most vulnerable places like coastal Bangledesh, which by definition aren’t the better places to be). The comments about food are more on-target. The wheat situation this year with the Russian heat wave underscores how a food crisis could happen way before the more visually dramatic “hell and high water” scenarios. Following that logically, I’m afraid that means that there will be food crises while the current fossil fuel based economic order is still in place. So for the first n such events, the “oil-ogarchs” and banksters of the current system will be able to buy their food security, and the poorest will starve. Looking down the road, well beyond 2060, the best hope for post-oil survival-with-civilization will be in more close-knit communities, like Bill McK describes.

    Someone mentioned the idea of the wealthy-in-the-know preparing hide outs. That is going on, both in the US and elsewhere. I think I’ve read about a small industry of contractors working (relatively quietly) on a number of such projects. I unfortunately can’t substantiate that with links, so maybe my memory is faulty. However, I can’t but think that in a true “sh-t hits the fan” scenario, the people who built the hide outs and were hired to protect them will simply take them.

  92. GFW says:

    Oh right, I’m in a suburb of Seattle at about 200 ft. I’d feel safe from the ocean at 10 ft and I don’t think the climate will significantly change the vegetation or landscape around here for a while beyond 50 years. But if food shipments from California and elsewhere stop, which they could do much sooner, we’re going to have to change our diets and habits dramatically.

  93. Jay says:

    Just a word of caution from one of us who’s already made the jump. . .

    Remember, it seems initially like an obvious answer as the climate warms to simply move further north–and to move the food crops adapted to a more equatorial region towards the poles. But there’s a trap in that I’d encourage everyone to think about. While it may be well warm enough to grow apples in Anchorage, AK, and soon, you’re very unlikely to have the daylight in the fall to ripen them. Or a lot of other crops for that matter. . .it makes far more sense to move up in altitude rather than latitude as one retains the same number of daylight hours that the plants of one’s native ecosystem are accustomed to. Of course, there’s a lot less real estate of the “altitude” type than “latitude.” Otherwise you might find yourself baking in the summer, still freezing in the dark in the winter, and trying to survive on short term setting root crops, uh, like radishes.

    Just a word from a small farm on the shoulder of Kilauea, at about 2100 feet. Growing mangos. . .

  94. Sorry gang, but the Pacific Northwest will not always be so nice.

    Like Portland, Seattle gets most of its water from mountain snow melt. In the dry summer months this melt provides constant fresh water. One scenario posits how the heating will eliminate snow caps, which would bring serious drought in the summer. More heat and drought also means more destructive wild fires. Then the increasingly bare ground exposes the glacial till to more dramatic slides and erosion. More so with increasing deluges. The heavy rains over a warming winter encourage more short term foliage that makes a serious tinder for summer burns And that could be the 2035 part.

    I have not seen much about the 2060 projections… but by then a significant sea level rise would impact much of lowland agriculture. With that, much of the Seattle waterfront will be flooded, and the lowlands around Puget Sound. Check the sea level maps. The latest ice melt projections suggest 20 inches higher by 2060 – and that’s starting to be regarded as a middle-of-the-road projection. Already, during our recent 100 year floods – Seattle was completely cut off from land-based access – no railroads and no highways – for a few days there was access only by air or water. This region is vulnerable to major weather events of climate change — today – so 50 years from now we might expect more.

    Maybe head further North.

  95. Dan Miller says:

    When people ask me about this, I tell them you will need 3 things: (1) food, (2) water, and (3) security. You might get 1 and 2 in Canada, but anywhere that is easy to get to will be a problem since many people will be seeking food and water. Regarding water, check out the drought map published here earlier in the week and you will see your choices greatly diminished:

    For those pondering this issue, I suggest you watch the movie “Children of Men”. It shows what it could be like (the UK in the movie) under marshall law after a collapse. The cause of the collapse is not climate change in the movie, but it might as well be.

  96. Leif says:

    Where would the best place be to live in the coming years? As part of a Green Army working to mitigate climatic disruption, (We All Win War, WAWW,) with the full faith and credit of the Nation and hopefully the world behind you. With every factory producing sustainable products with a long life expectancy where practical. Products to be shared equally by the peoples of the world. A Nation committed to promoting all rational and scientific efforts to back track their society, and by extension, humanity from the door step of doom.

    That is where I want to live.

    That is where I want my family to be able to live.

    I want to, and will go down fighting for good will towards all.

    Our Past is now the Enemy of Our Future…

  97. LosAngelista says:

    My best friend and I threw in our lots 11 years ago and relocated to the CA Central Coast, bought a 20 acre ranch with a well, and started a consulting business. She maintains the ranch while I manage clients in Los Angeles, commuting by train or Prius between Paso Robles and LA every couple of weeks. We raise chickens and the occasional steer, keep bees, maintain an orchard and berry patch, and have many raised bed gardens filled with our compost. We have solar hot water and are planning to install a PV system and cistern. It’s all lovely but it is incredbily expensive and difficult to raise food under the best of circumstances.

    A diesel tractor is essential (it took me an entire summer of hard labor to hoe the weeds from a 1 acre orchard) and we regularly pay for outside help. Until we get the PV system, we pay to pump water for our gardens. Despite our best efforts, it’s challenging to reliably produce food. For instance, ground squirrels consumed every bit of produce from our gardens for the last 2 years. Squirrel control measures included lining the garden beds with chicken wire, dropping water activated phosgene tablets down their holes, dogs, cats, a .22 rifle, and draping the fence with still more chicken wire. With all that, we managed a modest crop this year that probably works out to ~$50 per tomato, less for hardy squash. I could go on about relocating the fussy asparagus bed three times and how a bobcat wiped out our turkey flock one evening. The chickens and squash have provided the best ROI and could probably get us through a rough spell of a few months. However, if we had to depend exclusively on what we could raise, even under the best conditions (including a relatively stable climate/economy), we’d starve, like most everybody else. I agree that food security is the key threat from climate change and remain astonished at what little attention it gets from IPCC and others in the public policy arena. I’m sure Monsanto is all over heat resistent crops, though.

  98. Wonhyo says:

    I think Bill McKibben’s comments reflect naive optimism while Wit’s End reflects despairing reality.

    Say one participates in a peaceful, community building exercise in preparation for climate change. Let’s say this community has provided for its water, food, and shelter needs. What will happen when resources decline? Unless this community is prepared to defend everything it worked for, it will be plundered by those who did oil their guns and hoard their ammo.

    We have a significant gun worshipping culture in America. The members cite “for when TSHTF”, or “WROL (without rule of law)”, or “when the zombies attack” to justify their stockpiling of guns and ammo. These are code phrases meaning these people will greedily defend the property they are hoarding, and take property by force, if that becomes necessary for survival. Those who have guns, and are willing to use them, will control the communities that try to peacefully endure climate change.

    Bill McKibben’s gunless communities exist only in a fantasy world where progressive principals guide social adaptation to climate change. If you look at the recent political fight between tax cuts for income above $250k vs. stimulus measures for the other 98%, you should realize that large scale robbery is already taking place, albeit with politics instead of guns, and we’re not even facing a national food shortage yet. Once the food shortage becomes real, the S will have hit the fan, the zombies will have attacked, and we will be WROL. Use any euplemism you want, but at that point the guns will come out. Those who have the guns will take the food.

    It’s not a coincidence that the demographic that supports upward redistribution of wealth is generally the same demographic that is fanatical about guns.

    While most readers will consider Wit’s End’s thoughts to be extreme, she is simply expressing an acceptance of social reality that the rest of us are in denial of.

  99. Wonhyo says:

    Back on topic…

    By 2035, no location will be habitable year round. Few locations will be habitable more than a few consecutive years. The only survivors will be those who successfully migrate with climate change. In most parts of the world there will be no viable migration path that provides a continuous supply of survival necessities.

    The best strategy will be to allow nature to be the guide. For example follow the animals in their migratory paths. Hunters know that migratory animals follow established routes that provide the needed water and food. Wherever migratory animals can survive, so can humans.

    By 2060, the migratory animals will also be endangered with extinction.

  100. Arnold says:

    William P #68

    I’m Norwegian. I have suspected for some time that Scandinavia could be among the better places, also when it comes to future climate. We do import quite a lot of our food, perhaps as much as half of it now. Much of it not really necessary, I suspect. But we also export enormous quantities of fish, in total and per capita. On the other hand, most of our electricity comes from hydropower and we have a very long and windy coast. And Sweden and Denmark have more and better arable land. So, I think, the Scandinavian peninsula as a whole could have a fair chance to be more or less self-sufficient. That is, with our present, rather low density of population… So, I suspect, in the longer term there may be a question here of heavy border control and/or sharing of resources with other European countries. From what I understand, Denmark, and southern parts of Sweden, probably will suffer some serious drought problems, as will the southeasterly parts of Norway. Less serious drought, obviously, than further south, on the European continent. The growth season in northern Sweden and Norway probably will be signigicantly prolonged. Unless there’s shutdown of the North-Atlantic Current.

  101. paulm says:

    Reality sinking in. Its going to get ugly.

  102. Roger says:

    At the rate that climate change is accelerating, one of the best places to live in 2035 will be in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom–as king! As for 2060, we could be on “The Road.”

    Seriously, things in our society, and in nature are more delicately balanced than most people realize. Current carbon dioxide levels are dangerously destabilizing things, with a commitment to years of further climate deterioration from pollutants already emitted.

    Our government is already beginning to fail. Otherwise it would be reacting with measures appropriate to the situation, beginning with informing citizens of the problem, and what we must be done. Obama needs to make a prime-time TV climate speech.

    We Americans, as with most, deal best with things that have happened before: think, for example about our ‘before’ and ‘after’ stance on airport security with regard to 9/11. So, with climate change, we’re in big trouble. It’s new, and we only get one opportunity.

    Thinking about where it’ll be best to live in 25 and 40 years is a great exercise. However, we do need to work hard together to make a climate movement powerful enough to out gun the fossil fuel interests, or few will survive until then.

  103. 94.LosAngelista
    The ground squirrel problem in central California began with the forest service (?) poisoning them, which was killing off their predators. That was 40 years ago. They did stop the poisoning, but the damage done to the natural balance is likely not yet repaired.
    I’m only half joking when I recommend you try to attract coyotes. Lay out dog food… for a while. Keep your birds cooped and your toddlers and small pets indoors!

    I saw first hand a massacre of a flock of chickens by a couple of raccoons when somebody forgot to close the chicken coop door at dusk. Bobcats are less common. Poultry must be in a protective coop by dusk. They learn to go there, so all you need to do is open the door in the morning and close it at dusk. Am I making sense?

    I wonder what the other problems you are facing (besides the squirrels) that you can’t feed yourselves off 20 acres. Which side of the coastal range are you on (I figure east, hot and dry)? My ex-father in law had an ever shrinking (as he got older) garden in Cholame that was incredibly bountiful until the early ’90s when he got too old…I’m sure it had wire (or cinder block) at least 2 feet deep, and was surrounded by a 6 ft chicken wire fence.
    For orchards, birds are a problem. I’ve seen lots of instances where the silhouette of a raptor hung from a branch discourages the prey birds. Bells too. Don’t know if it works though.
    Deer can be a serious problem. When I lived in the Santa Cruz mountains west of San Jose, nothing but barriers would discourage them. Not even cougar urine.

  104. Eric says:

    I’m with Bill M (who appears to have the decency to identify himself, despite the fact that every time he does so in a public forum he must take heat from people like Wit’s End). The “every man for himself” survivalist mentality bred of ruminating too much over Mad Max and “the Road” doesn’t get one very far – unless you think that a short, desperate, predatory hand-to-mouth existence for the purpose of propagating your genetic material is the most one can aspire too in a changed world. Close knit communities that share/trade knowledge, commodities, labor, and friendship will give life in a harder environment the quality and purpose that will make it worth living. Okay, sure, such communities could provide for the common defense too; but let’s not let the wingnut survivalists define our priorities for us. Think Transition Town, not Thunderdome.

  105. Roger says:

    Great thread!

    A suggested topic for next week: What could climate-concerned Americans do to get their elected officials (starting with Obama) to react aggressively enough to climate change to preserve a livable climate?

    It seems to me, given input from Chu, Holdren, et al., that Obama knows the score, has thankfully taken steps in the right direction, but hasn’t thrown himself into the task to the extent that the situation demands. It doesn’t appear likely that nature will deliver a Pearl Harbor-like message that will be clear enough to convince confused citizens.

    So, one wonders: Could it be that, FDR style, the climate science has convinced Obama of what may be needed, but that we concerned citizens haven’t yet “gone out and made him do it?” Is there something that we who know could do to spur Obama to do what’s necessary to save us all?

    We need to know.

  106. Ted Gleichman says:

    One of the key anthropological insights developed by Richard Leakey et al is that early hominids were able to survive and thrive because they evolved the ability to share food for the good of the biocommunity.

    That does not mean that they failed to defend themselves against external and internal threats; au contraire.

    McKibben is not advocating unilateral disarmament; he simply elegantly and eloquently points out the reality that organized communities present the best odds for managing resource allocation and specialization of labor during times of stress. Such communities include police forces and armies.

    It’s easy to hypothesize situations where sets of unified neighborhoods in Detroit and Portland, well-organized and protected agricultural and wind-farm communities in the Midwest, and Scandinavian mini-states (where social cooperation is deep in the cultural DNA) are thriving with difficulty in 2300 — the hard part will be making it all happen. It’s just as easy to hypothesize total collapse, and a global human population of much less than one billion.

    For those who are focused on only their own nuclear families, remember that even Mad Max encountered remnant government. Tina Turner redux is not my idea of the optimal leadership and management structure; an organized community is much more likely to be able to provide my grandchildren with medical care (remember that?) — and to protect itself from marauding bands of rugged individualists seeking to raid the community stores of Tea for their Parties.

    Life in the worst-case residual communities would doubtless match the Hobbsian characterization of “nasty, brutish, and short” — but it is not ‘survivalism’ that will allow true survival in that worst case. It is practical, hard-nosed cooperation. And that’s not just for the wealthy; you can’t buy food that can’t be protected from ground squirrels and bobcats.

    Listen to McKibben. Progressive community organizing, aiming for societies that preserve some form of painful but humane restructured civilization, may not succeed as we drift forward. If it doesn’t, though, the alternative is not isolated family success; the Swiss Family Robinson is not the anti-Mad Max formula.

    The alternative to community would be a dictatorship of scarcity and devastation. To prevent that, the deniers, corporate profiteers, and social fascists simply have to be politically defeated. So our focus must be both yin and yang: build for the future; fight for the present.

    So ask not what your suffering world can do for you; ask rather what you can do for it — and for your neighbors.

  107. Roger says:

    Correction to my above comment: “40” should be “50.”

    “Same difference,” as we say here in New England. It’ll be grim by then, and it’s so sad to think that this vision of Christmas future doesn’t need to come to pass. Could we send a ghost to visit Obama?

    Might we all work hard together–with leadership–to change?

  108. Roger says:

    It’s a holy day, and six days to a special holiday, for Christians.

    Dear God, please help us find the right path forward for your Earth.

    Forgive us, and give us the wisdom and courage to do what’s right.

  109. Jim Eaton says:

    My body has not been very happy as I get into my 60s, but my mind is OK with the thought that I probably won’t see too much of the coming collapse. Glad we chose not to have kids, although I will worry about my nieces futures. It’s really strange, realizing that my wife and I have ridden the crest of the wave allowing us a wonderful lifestyle (hey, while our life is good, we both are committed conservationists with careers working to protect the environment) but seeing that the wave is about to crash on the rocks.

  110. Heraclitus says:


    They are positioning themselves to be the winners, if there are to be any.

    The US will be a marginalised, dwindling power, doesn’t much matter which corner of it you choose.

  111. fj3 says:

    His steely eyes and jutting jaw speak of his determination. His medal-festooned uniform underlines his power. Rear Admiral David Titley is a sea warrior, but also a scientist with a passion.

    He is the U.S. Navy’s chief oceanographer and director of its climate change task force. Yes, the U.S. Navy has a climate change task force. With 450 staff.

    ‘We in the U.S. Navy believe climate change is real,’ Titley says.

    ‘It’s going to have big impacts, especially in the Arctic, which is changing before our eyes.’

    He predicts an ice-free Arctic in late summer by 2020.

  112. Sou says:

    I feel fortunate to have moved to a small country town in the foothills of the mountains in south eastern Australia (hills to you in north America). We have first shot at the water that flows into the Murray Darling system. So the town water is (usually) clean – filtered, ozone treated with almost no chlorination.

    The main problems are bushfires and floods (both of which can mess up the water supply). Fires are a more frequent and damaging occurrence. Drought is a problem, but not as bad as in some parts and a rainwater tank or two will generally see you through even a very long dry spell. Rising temperatures are a problem as well – already we’ve had it peak around 45C and get long spells of heat waves (35C to 42C usually, but rising). A trip up the mountain and it’s 10C cooler. At night a cool breeze blows down from the hills. Very good soil – lots of bees, worms and other bugs (also snails and slugs). And excellent neighbours.

    I also feel fortunate that most people prefer to live in large towns or cities and find it too far to commute from here.

    I’m staying put – and not telling too many people about this place :)

  113. A face in the clouds says:

    Southeast Oklahoma might be worth remembering as an oasis. Rivers and streams crisscross the region, fresh lakes are every where, and the soil is almost rich enough to eat with a spoon. The region toughed out the 1930’s and fed an awful lot of hungry people. I don’t know how it would fare in a future being discussed here, but it’s a place worth marking on the map for that time.

    Northeast Texas is also a lush area but aquifers are failing fast and the Red River is almost certainly one source of dangerous pollutants turning up in water south of the Texas/Oklahoma border. If this were to be the first green place one came upon while migrating north, then it might be wise to cross on over the Red River at Paris, TX. If the river is dry, there may still be quicksand. If not, there may be Water Moccasins, so take the large bridge about 15 miles north of the Paris City Hall. Avoid the small bridges, they could collapse. If the signs are still standing, then one of your best bets might be to follow the Kiamichi River until it turns east. Continue north to Eufaula Lake and follow the water northeastward into SW Missouri. There are lots of caves with pockets of fresh water, and a large one just outside of Springfield once used as a nuclear bomb shelter. Hopefully it will still be stocked with medical supplies and sealed barrels of water and “super” crackers.

    Spooky, huh?

  114. Lore says:

    The real questions should be, how many will be alive 2035 – 2060 and will it be living or just existing?

  115. Chris Winter says:

    Bill McKibben wrote (#80): “What’s going to be important in the future are strong, intact communities. Fossil fuel made us the first people on earth with no practical need of our neighbors, and as a result our communities have withered. But when times are tough, neighbors are what get you through. So settle in, go to church or synagogue or mosque or whatever, support your local food growers and other businesses, volunteer at the nursing home, be a useful part of a place. That will pay you more dividends (psychic and practical) than stockpiling food and oiling your guns.”

    Bill McKibben is right. He doesn’t say that either food stockpiles or guns are unnecessary. That would be truly naive. Being able to defend yourself and your community is important. So is a supply of preserved food to let the community ride out a poor planting season.

    In this respect, New England and upstate New York are better off than many areas. They’re filled with settled communities that have maintained many of the practical skills needed for self-sufficiency.

    I’ve just read Early Spring, by Vermont ecologist Amy Seidl (for which McKibben wrote the Foreword). It’s a good example of people cooperating to endure the vagaries of climate (like that year of 1816).

  116. Chris Winter says:

    GFW wrote (#94): “However, I can’t but think that in a true “sh-t hits the fan” scenario, the people who built the hide outs and were hired to protect them will simply take them.”

    True that. And an echo of a scene from Lucifer’s Hammer.

    I expect that survivalists with guns will be a problem in the worst-case scenarios, but more so to each other than to peaceful communities that are barely self-sufficient. That is, unless the community leaders try to get hard-ass like the local sheriff did in Rambo: First Blood.

    If the community lets a potentially violent band pass through peacefully, gives them a meal and perhaps some advice about conditions further on, there’s not likely to be a conflict. The reason is because the newcomers can see for themselves that a) the community has the means to defend itself, and b) it does not have the means to feed many more mouths.

    Remember, while gunslingers and rowdy cowboys are legends of the Wild West, the people that won the West were the farmers and blacksmiths and grocers, the doctors and preachers and schoolmarms.

  117. Chris Winter says:

    It’s worthwhile thinking about where in the world survival is likely to be easiest in the years ahead. But, given that reliably assessing this is so difficult, a better question may be: What kinds of people are best fitted to survive, wherever they wind up?

    It seems to me that an important part of the answer is people with practical skills like blacksmithing, or fixing radio transmitters, or first aid, or canning apricots so they stay good. Another part would be people that understand the value of community.

  118. CW says:

    If an area is physically more desirable in a climate-destabilized world will it necessarily be a desirable place to live socio-politically?

    Wherever these future places may be that are a bit more habitable for humans, they will be highly sought after. This either means there will be enormous human conflict within them and/or they will become a fortress or constant emergency-state under surge after surge. So they may be livable physically but socially or politically, still be hellish.

    I also tend to think that the “go north” thing is not an ecologically sound idea. As you go north on this planet, ecosystems get more fragile. In the timeline we’re considering they won’t ‘adapt’ as many seem to think. They’ll just be wiped out from the physical destabilization of the multitude of deleterious climate and climate-related effects.

    So I think the answer to your question is really that nowhere will be nice to live in the future if the world continues to effectively do nothing on climate change for the next 15 to 20 years or more.

    There are no escape hatches, life-boats or truly safe havens in this isolated and closed system we call Earth. We need to come to terms with this reality so as to better come to terms with the reality of climate change.

  119. dp says:

    i just realized i should’ve included the lyrics to woody guthrie’s great environmental migration cautionary song so to be as clear as possible what i was on about.

    for anyone who maybe reads things a little too quick, the ‘do’ in ‘do re mi’ rhymes with ‘cash money.’

    listen along:

    Do Re Mi

    Lots of folks back East, they say, is leavin’ home every day,
    Beatin’ the hot old dusty way to the California line.
    ‘Cross the desert sands they roll, gettin’ out of that old dust bowl,
    They think they’re goin’ to a sugar bowl, but here’s what they find
    Now, the police at the port of entry say,
    “You’re number fourteen thousand for today.”

    Oh, if you ain’t got the do re mi, folks, you ain’t got the do re mi,
    Why, you better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee.
    California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see;
    But believe it or not, you won’t find it so hot
    If you ain’t got the do re mi.

    You want to buy you a home or a farm, that can’t deal nobody harm,
    Or take your vacation by the mountains or sea.
    Don’t swap your old cow for a car, you better stay right where you are,
    Better take this little tip from me.
    ‘Cause I look through the want ads every day
    But the headlines on the papers always say:

    If you ain’t got the do re mi, boys, you ain’t got the do re mi,
    Why, you better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee.
    California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see;
    But believe it or not, you won’t find it so hot
    If you ain’t got the do re mi.

    i can imagine what woody might’ve thought about people as rich & fortunate as us talking about taking up arms against each other just because food networks might need a little different thinking. i guess we’ve hit another low, as a nation — leaving tens of millions of families jobless or scared, planning on leaving even more hungry.

  120. Prokaryotes says:

    Chris Winter said #118 “It seems to me that an important part of the answer is people with practical skills like blacksmithing, or fixing radio transmitters, or first aid, or canning apricots so they stay good. Another part would be people that understand the value of community.”

    Without “thinkers” the new society would make steps backwards and have trouble with predicting the future of their community or when faced with abstract problems. You need a mix of skills and a mix of DNA “breeding pairs”. Plato’s republic highlights these governing setups and part of the problem we face of climate change originates because our system is to flawed. A system where sociopaths are able to rule with an authoritarian style.

  121. Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Commenting late, have not read all 120 comments, but it looks like I disagree with most. Central Florida looks pretty good, and better still go south – from Belize to Brazil.

  122. Wonhyo says:

    The idea of joining progressive communities, like churches, to survive climate change has potential, but requires an acknowledgement of climate change to be effective.

    Large church organizations have a national or global network of local chapters. This, along with the church’s charitable mission, makes the church an ideal institution to guide society through climate change. As climate catastrophes hit one area, the church has the institutional apparatus to rapidly distribute aid and supplies where needed. The church culture also promotes the idea of shared sacrifice, which will be critical for communities to survive climate change.

    I’ve approached two church groups, helped form an environmental committee in one, and joined a similar group in the other. In the first case, all attempts at promoting the role of the church in climate survival were stymied by a single individual who is a climate denier. Everyone wanted to be sensitive to his convictions and avoided any substantive discussion of the church’s role in climate change. In the second church, the committee members gave me blank stares and changed the topic when I discussed the role of the church in climate change.

    I also had a unique opportunity to pitch my thoughts to the Sierra Club when I was selected for a focus group a few years ago. The Sierra Club commisioned this focus group to help form their future goals. I expressed the opinion that Sierra Club is the best, perhaps only, national environmental organization with the means to inform and mobilize people to action. I said Sierra Club should make climate change messaging and mobilization its defining role in human history.

    As I observe what the Sierra Clun has done in the few years since I participated in this focus group, I see it is business as usual. They have made token efforts on climate change, but they have not staked their core mission on it. Don’t get me wrong, as I realize those token efforts represent significant work by individuals and some local victories. Unfortunately, they are small battles being won in a war that is being lost. More accurate, The Sierra Club is not fully engaged in the war of climate change messaging.

    Now, compare the Sierra Club to the National Rifle Association. The NRA is effective at messaging, fundraising, mobilization, and political influence to a degree that eclipses the Sierra Club. A recent Los Angeles Times article says the NRA has so thoroughly gripped the levers of government that the ATF operates within bounds effectivle set by the NRA.

    When people start advocating environmental issues the way people advocate gun rights, when the Sierra Club gets as aggressive and effective as the NRA, that will be a sign that progressive adaptation is gaining the upper hand on prparing for WTSHTF. To believe otherwise is naive optimism.

  123. George Ennis says:

    As a Canadian I am simply amazed at the number of people who talk about an adaptation strategy based on migration northwards. In the case of Canada, on the surface that may seem plausible until you realize that you will in many areas run into something called the Canadian Shield. I seriously doubt that large scale farming as we know it today will ever be possible on rock.

    If you go far enough north in Canada you will run into the “tundra”. Again this is currently characterized as “permafrost” transitioning to permamelt. Again assuming this transition was instantaneous (which it will not be) it seems extremely doubtful that soil could be created in this area to allow large scale farming.

    The biggest issue in terms of adaptation that is emerging in Canada, mistakenly seen as a long term climate refuge, is that water supplies have already entered into what appears to be a long term decline. In western Canada most of our rivers are fed from glaciers and/or snow melt. The glaciers are retreating and rapidly. As for the snow melt well yes we will still (hopefully) get snow in the mountains. Unfortunately we are already experiencing sudden snow melt in the spring, meaning that the rivers experience extreme flooding in the spring. In the future river flows are expected to be extremely volatile, flooding in the spring (when you don’t need it for farming to a trickle in the summer when you do.

  124. Wonhyo says:

    George Ennis, thanks for the reality check. I think too many people naively believe there is a simple path to climate survival.

    Bill McK’s suggestion to join and participate in communities does have some emotional value. Realizing that there is no simple path to climate survival, we should (peacefully) enjoy what remains of the livable, moderate climate.

    At the same time, we should aggressively fight to extend what remains of this climate.

  125. Deborah Stark says:

    Good Morning!

    2010’s world gone wild: Quakes, floods, blizzards


    …..White House science adviser John Holdren said we should get used to climate disasters or do something about global warming: “The science is clear that we can expect more and more of these kinds of damaging events unless and until society’s emissions of heat-trapping gases and particles are sharply reduced.”….. END excerpt.

    For the record then…

  126. Scrooge says:

    A northern state east of the dakotas, new england, or canada. Don’t have the kids wait to long. I see the US becoming more fudalistic or tribal. States will have more power and the northern states where the food supply is may not take kindly to foreign states.

  127. Leif says:

    It is clear from the comments above that there is much to be gained by staying on the “we still got a chance” side of the equation rather than stepping across the “threshold of doom”. If society wants to survive, social order must be retained and “shared purpose” must be the glue. The only entity with more firepower than the red neck Tea Baggers is the military. The military must step forth with a leadership roll for the SURVIVAL OF ALL AMERICANS. (By extension the world!)

    I have no lost love for the Military but have recently been advocating the “We All Win War” or WAWW. For starters we give the rich their tax break but with a string attached. They must invest an equal amount in the Green Awakening Economy to qualify. That money is not given to Congress or the President or Wall Street. It is given to a NEW Green Branch of the of the military with War Time Powers. Labor costs for mitigation become slashed because the largest Civil costs on a project is labor. We get to train the youth in meaningful jobs, give them a grub stake, get them healthy, clean their system of street drugs, get the non-violent out of prisons, perhaps even a few of the violent ones. No Post Traumatic Syndrome for the retiring. (I have to assume that charged with doing good and saving the future of humanity will leave a good taste in their brains.) The Rich, and the Nation, on the other hand will have TANGIBLE ASSETS at a Fraction of the cost of Corporate fingers in the pie. The Nation will not be adding as much to the deficit as we will be building renewable energy to start the healing process, retaining the deficit within our borders and paying interest to ourselves. In time and Gentle persuasion, (rummer has it that Water Boarding is cool) the rich will be able to be assimilated. We might even buy enough time to let them die Naturally! Forgot to mention. Denial or misleading contrary unsubstantiated statements are now Treasonable offenses.
    It is a WAR of Survival!
    Our Past is now the Enemy of our Future…

  128. Scrooge says:

    Pete, I keep hoping central florida might be OK but my major concern is drought and farming. Desalination plants may be needed.

  129. John McCormick says:

    RE # 122

    Prokaryotes, since I am an avid and appreciative fan of your many contributions to CP, allow me to offer some constructive advise.

    There is a difference between to and too.

    I went to Catholic school and can vouch for that.

    “to flawed” should read ‘too’ flawed. I know the Sisters of Mercy would agree with me.

    Keep your comments coming. You are a font of information and useful links.

    John McCormick

  130. Joe, You pose a great question that happens to be one of the central concerns explored in my new book, HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth (out in January 2011 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). I have a five year old daughter, and in the book I investigate how to help her and the rest of what I call Generation Hot cope with a climate that is soon going to be hotter and more volatile than ever before in our civilization’s history. I explicitly ask myself where she should live in the future.

    I found many of the responses on this thread to be thoughtful and creative but also overlooking what, to me, is the most important criterion for deciding where to live in the future: the social context. Yes, the physical conditions will be changing, and challenging, almost everywhere. Thus, what matters most is to be in a place where people and institutions–especially local governments and civic groups–are WORKING THE PROBLEM. That is to say, places where leaders and ordinary folks alike are aware that the climate will be worsening, studying the exact conditions projected for their locality and working TODAY to put in place protective measures, be they stronger sea defenses, more efficient water supply systems, more resilient housing and neighborhood structures and much more. The idea that one can survive future climate change by moving far away from everyone else and living solo is a fantasy, albeit a widely shared one. People are going to have to work together to cope with all that’s coming.

    So, my own list for future living places that I would recommend to my daughter starts with King County in Washington state, a county that includes the city of Seattle and many of its suburbs but extends eastward to the Cascades. Thanks to the pioneering efforts of former County Executive Ron Sims, King County is by far the municipality that has done the most (in the USA) to prepare for future climate change impacts. You can read the specifics in my book, but it’s heartening to know that King County’s example is being emulated by a number of other US localities, not least the cities of Chicago and New York. Overseas, the clear leaders in climate change adaptation are the United Kingdom and The Netherlands. The latter has initiated a well-funded, politically tough-minded 200 Year Plan to adapt to climate change (and no, 200 is not a typo).

    Again, you can find more information in HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years, which ends with a letter to my daughter dated in the year 2020, wherein I advise her to think carefully about where she decides to live when I’m perhaps no longer around to look after her. “If it were me,” I tell her, “I’d look for a place that has a secure water supply, a capable government and a vibrant community–a place where people know how to work with their hands, where they look out for one another and practice the Golden Rule. That’s going to be your surest protection if things get difficult in the years ahead.”

    Mark Hertsgaard

  131. MR says:

    Quite a series of perspectives – wonder if there’s any real estate companies from northern regions that will jump on a marketing campaign targeted at well-off North American and European climate change refugees. Sounds like there might be a market given the comments we are hearing…

  132. Robert H says:

    Such is the world we bequeath our children and grandchildren! Perhaps the greatest injustice will be that the ones most responsible for the debacle, and I put that responsibility chiefly on my generation’s shoulders (The Baby Boomers), is that they/we will not be the ones who will have to pay the price for our greed and our sloth-something to do with the sins of the parents… In my darker moments I envision a marriage of Logan’s Run to Childhood’s End, perhaps with Jim Jones officiating. Why were we so disastrously feckless?

    Other thoughts: I realize it has already been mentioned upthread but there is a necessity to develop meaningful survival skills, especially those that transcend food production and storage.

    A crucial matter is the preservation of knowledge and the arts, and I am not convinced that digital media will be all that useful 100 years from now. As a whole there is nothing contemptible about our cultural heritage; the error can be placed exclusively at the feet of our ignorant gluttony. Although scientific knowledge is crucial, and will undoubtedly be at risk, I am most greatly concerned about the protection of the works of people such as Euripides, Bach, or Frida Kahlo. Science is predicated on the physical world and its truths can only be misplaced or ignored. Once The Bacchae is lost, it is lost for eternity. I know it sounds of A Canticle for Leibowitz but the need is pressing nonetheless.

  133. fj3 says:

    NetZero transportation’s high potential

  134. Cinnamon Girl says:

    Good topic, Joe. RE: Jay 95, the north latitude sunlight issue is an often overlooked limiting factor. I wonder how much that would be lessened if reduced fossil fuel use reduces global dimming. It seems to me that greenhouses are a likely early attempt to adapt. In the northern lats, that would include artificial lighting to overcome the reduced sunlight issue–solar/wind powered, one would hope. I imagine that outdoor vegetable growing in the southern lats would move warm season varieties further into the cool season, and move cool season crops indoors or to some temperature management adaptations. It seems that security could become a serious concern for outdoor gardening. Keeping raccoons and mischievous kids out of the garden patch now is one thing. Hungry maybe-migrating people and habitat-deprived animals easily could make garden-guarding a round-the-clock proposition in the hot future. In my view, protein is likely to become the more limiting nutrient on a mass production scale, as the marine production vanishes and grain production for animal consumption recedes. We’d hope that plant sources can fill the void and meet the truly minimal protein needs (well below what the average extravagant Western diet now provides). It seems to me that we probably will not be able to rely on Canadian hospitality, as the stress of defending the melted Arctic against Russia leads Canada into an arms race, and increased anti-immigrant sentiment. I guess it’ll be “interesting” to see how the video-game generations cope when the climate Vogons we’ve created come calling.

  135. L. Carey says:

    I strongly agree with Bill McKibben’s comments at #80 [and not just because I’m also Methodist :) ] regarding the importance of community. In large part it was thinking trapped in ruts of “rugged individualism”, “devil take the hindmost” and “me, me, me” that go us into this mess in the first place – and if we don’t start abandoning those in favor of community we are doomed to a “crabs in a bucket” future. Indeed the whole Tea Bagger mentality of “keep your hands off MY stuff” makes me very nervous about the future social stability of the U.S. if things really hit the fan. (For what it’s worth, my family and I will be spending spring break looking at business properties in British Columbia.)

  136. fj3 says:

    Social #entrepreneurs see the change that is possible before anyone else. #socent #entrepreneurship (via @shreygoyal)

  137. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    I agree with the people who’ve pointed out northern Ontario or Manitoba as ideal places. We have many freshwater lakes of differing sizes. Within an hours drive of me there are over a hundred lakes, almost half of them big enough to get lost on if you don’t have a map, compass (old school navigation) or a GPS. On my bicycle I can reach two large lakes and several smaller lakes within 15 minutes, plus there are countless streams flowing over the escarpment which are good for cooling down on hot days.

    Some of the clay belts nearby are also good farming. Not enough for a nation or even southern Ontario, but enough for the northern communities living nearby.

    Best part is that they’ll likely remain uncrowded as many will be flocking to the coasts rather than places where blackflies, mosquitoes, and other biting insects have made it into legend. The Blackfly Song by Wade Hemsworth.

    Heat waves will kill off the bugs early though, and once the bugs are gone or diminished, the area is gorgeous to live in. And you eventually develop an immunity to biting insects–no rashes, no bumps, no itching.

  138. Alteredstory says:

    I have to say, when it comes to things like gardening and holding on to what you grow, the key question is water availability. If you’re somewhere with enough water, you can move towards a hydroponic system, and do most of your gardening on your roof, inside, and in vertical gardens, especially if you have a power supply like wind/solar to provide light, which would let you grow inside.

    It would require you to control and monitor much less land, would make keeping pests out MUCH easier, and also keeping thieves out easier. Water storage, if done right, could also combine with controlled, indoor conditions to allow for a year-round growing season in areas with a dry season or a winter to interrupt things.

    Again, it would require access to power and water, and the know-how to build the system, but I don’t see any reason why we can work to include at least some of the advances of our society in our plans for a distopian future. There’s no need to default to medieval farmland scenarios, and I don’t think we could do that if we tried, in this case, given the rate at which things are changing, and the rapid growth of the human population. We won’t have enough land to grow food on if we don’t garden UP.

  139. Todd Tanner says:

    A few things I’d like to add to my earlier comments.

    It’s likely that landscapes will change rapidly in the relatively near future. For example, trees across the western U.S. are dying twice as fast as they did 20 years ago, with no corresponding increase in recruitment – a change that scientists attribute solely to climate change. As time goes on, climate-influenced drought, wild fire, disease and insects will have profound impacts on landscapes the world over. If you’re looking to settle in what’s currently a remote wooded area, you might want to imagine your new home without most of the trees.

    Regarding the discussion on communities – they’re going to be vital, but with a caveat. Communities that meet the basic criteria of low population, plentiful water, good topsoil and a reasonable distance from large cities will have a better chance than communities that don’t meet those minimum qualifications. That’s just common sense. (I’m afraid that a small, tight-knit community outside of Miami or Las Vegas doesn’t have much of a future in the long term.) But even the best situated communities will need a strong work ethic and a shared sense of sacrifice to get by for the next 40 or 50 years.

    One final point. None of the climate change scenarios that we’re talking about are happening in a vacuum. Our energy situation, even with a major infusion of natural gas, is likely to become much more difficult in the coming decades. As is our financial situation. (It’s not hard to imagine what’s going to happen to a financial system predicated on growth and debt when it becomes apparent that the growth in GDP needed to repay our debt is no longer possible.) If you’re thinking that you have 20 years or so to find the best possible community and make the move, you may end up … well, “disappointed” may be a mild way of putting it.

  140. Paulm says:

    #134 Robert, good point.

  141. Paulm says:

    Joe, site morphing into a survival blog…

    [JR: It always was….]

  142. Prokaryotes says:

    John McCormick, thanks for the correction it’s appreciated.

  143. John McManus says:

    We have lived in Nova Scotia for 10 years. Great place but vulnerable too.
    A bit of sea rise and Nova Scotia becomes an island. All imports doulbe in price. Our electricity comes from Venesualan coal which depends on cheap oil. We import food, heat,light, transportation, clothes etc. etc. etc.

    There is hope, if the population stays small. Nova Scotia is self sufficient in milk, eggs, chicken, apples,peras etc. and blueberries. The province could be self sufficient in potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, beef, pork, cheese. Wool maybe, lumber maybe but water power would have to be relearned.

    We live 250ft above sea level out in the boonies. Our 3/4 acre could grow all the potatoes, onions, tomatoes etc we need. The trees produce a few apples and we get some blackberries and blueberries. There are brook trout and deer a few feet away, but any increase in local hunting or fishing would destroy the stock forever. Our aquifer is shallow and a hand pump could be used. We burn 7 1/2 cords of local wood a winter. Photovoltaics (60 watts) mowes the lawn with a rideon and I am making more. The wind regime here is too low for the 2k turbine to produce much.

    Could we survive sea level rise, transportation interupptions and power shortages? Could lots of people? No, the resourse base would get thin quick.

  144. fj3 says:

    Environmental Refugees: The Rising Tide
    “Once the storm passed, it was assumed that the million or so Katrina evacuees would, as in past cases, return to repair and rebuild their homes. Some 700,000 did return, but close to 300,000 did not. Nor do they plan to do so. Most of them have no home or job to return to. They are no longer evacuees. They are climate refugees. Interestingly, the first large wave of modern climate refugees emerged in the United States – the country most responsible for the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide that is warming the earth. New Orleans is the first modern coastal city to be partly abandoned.
    . . .
    “The flow of rising-sea refugees will come primarily from coastal cities. Among those most immediately affected are London, New York, Washington, Miami, Shanghai, Kolkata (Calcutta), Cairo, and Tokyo. If the rise in sea level cannot be checked, cities soon will have to start either planning for relocation or building barriers that will block the rising seas.”

    Excerpt from
    World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse
    By Lester R. Brown, Copyright @ 2011 Earth Policy Institute
    ISBN 978-0-393-08029-2 (cloth) 978-0-393-33949-9 (pbk)

  145. Barry says:

    Best comment is Joe’s response to #142.

  146. Roger Wehage says:

    I’ve a little pine box reserved in a 6′ by 3′ by 6′ hole on a hill, well above flood plain. My biggest concern is poison ivy and termites.

  147. Barry says:

    Not the Sahel!

    Here is an amazing, detailed story on the climate collapse happen now in parts of the Sahel:

    In the region around his village, farmers need 400 millimetres of rain annually to produce a crop. Over the past four years, rainfall has varied from 135 millimetres to 358 millimetres – not enough to sustain a harvest. And much of the rainfall is produced in torrential storms that cause more damage than benefit.

    This year, the village suffered a perverse twist of fate. When everyone had given up on the rains, suddenly there were torrential storms, more rainfall than the village had seen in many years. But the farmers gained nothing. They had not gambled on the cost of seeding their fields. “We weren’t expecting any rain, so I didn’t plant anything,” Mr. Goukouni said.

    In the nearby town of Mao, the strange combination of drought and sudden torrential rain has had an unexpected result: huge fast-growing ravines that threaten to swallow up the town.

    Hell and high water.

    The article poses a very interesting question (that might be a good open forum blog post Joe): should humanity be trying to keep people on their climate ravaged lands — or move them. If we move them…where should they go?

    The cruel reality of “adapting”.

  148. John McCormick says:


    As are you.

    John McCormick

  149. catman306 says:

    Ayn Rand’s brand of ‘thinking’ helped push us to this point. Not much chance it will lead us to a sustainable future. Selfish, short term gain seems to win out when compared to long term sustainability. Britain goes to China. Unfortunately our changing climate doesn’t seem to care about our personal philosophies.

    No place to run. The weather’s going to be so bad that travel will become difficult and dangerous. Imagine 12 inches of rain in one day, falling on Mad Max’s world, and then, the muddy aftermath. And just why wouldn’t most of Earth’s land surfaces get hit by an extreme weather event once a decade? Certainly not because ‘it’s never happened before’. This is chaos, chaotic whether events. Each is almost a one of a kind. Some will be often repeated, but not predictably.

    So stay home and figure out just how you’ll weather the coming draughts and storms because, unfortunately that’s as close to experiencing climate change, that most of us will ever know.

    Find yourself an old salt mine and build yourself a self contained town. It will need it’s own water, food, and energy resources. But the good thing is that there’s not much weather in a salt mine. Maybe this is how the world of THX 1138 was first formed.

  150. Alex says:

    Large cities on the North Atlantic sound good. High density = low energy usage. Electric trains. Existing rail nodes, deepwater harbours, and inland waterways. Concentrated knowledge – universities, libraries and such. More manufacturing than you might think. They already have democratic government and organised police forces. Diverse cultures.

  151. Leif says:

    Barry, @ 150 : ,,,”should humanity be trying to keep people on their climate ravaged lands — or move them.
    If we move them…where should they go? ”
    Who gets final say?
    Won’t we just be setting up a lot of “Palestinians”?
    Do they get their original laws and social customs in their new Nation?
    If not why not?
    Perhaps Reservations, That worked out well! Some of these dislocations will be Tens of millions of people.
    Is there an upper limit that any country must take?
    Must all countries take a percentage? Should Carbon Stomp emitters be responsible for higher percentages?
    That is just the beginning.

  152. John Mashey says:

    re: #125
    As and old farmboy who visits Canad fairly often, and is thus not under the illusion that’s sort of like an extra big state up there…

    Indeed, nobody is likely to do much farming on the Canadian Shield, whose topsoil mostly moved to the US quite a while ago.
    Here are some images.
    It has some spectacular country and lots of rocks. It is not Kansas.

  153. Lore says:

    I would suggest planning and getting out to your doom-stead now. If that’s what you want. Once the real consequences of energy shortages hit, within the decade, you won’t be able to drive out. Wait a few more years after that for the roads to become unusable and you may find yourself hoofing it on foot across country.

    Think again if you think it can’t happen.

  154. Lew Johns says:

    Again, IMO Food is what we’re talking about. RE Food the first-felt effect of AGW will be some things disappearing from Supermarket shelves. It will be subtle at first and will probably be falsely attributed to “changes in the Market” but those items will never appear again. It may be California Navel Oranges or Georgia Pecans or Imperial Valley Cantaloupes or Green River, Ut Mellons. Next will be hyper-inflated prices of first one and then other food “commodity” items (winter wheat, corn syrup, pork bellies, soybeans). Again, this will initially be attributed to something like “a fungus due to too much rain at the wrong time”, but again those prices will never come back down. IMO that is how it will begin, the time when being “rich” will have a new meaning.

  155. Artful Dodger says:

    My only real question is, after the collapse, will we still have an Internet?

  156. Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Daniel # 139, think carefully. You want a small farming community, but you hope a heat wave will kill off the bugs. Assuming people survive that heat wave, good luck pollinating your crops by hand.

  157. Artful Dodger says:

    Joe, you were co-author of a 1987 MIT study “Nuclear crash. The U.S. Economy After Small Nuclear Attacks”

    I find some of the methods and conclusions of this paper to be directly applicable to the risks we face today: simply substitute “Nuclear Attack” with “Climate Change” in the following excerpts from the Introduction:

    “Chapter Two discusses the U.S. economy in terms of its vulnerability to nuclear attack. We examine the concentration of key industries, and the importance of energy (particularly liquid fuels) to the transportation sector and the rest of the economy.”

    Much of vulnerability of our society applies equally to either threat.

    “In Chapter Five, we consider the effects of three different scenarios on the U.S. economy… The smallest of the three attacks, the Counter-Energy Attack, destroys only commercial ports and the refining and storage facilities for liquid fossil fuels.”

    Rising Sea Levels and Peak Oil will apply similar stresses to our System if we do not soon begin preparations for their inevitable arrival.

    A final note: Thank-you Joe for the role you’ve played throughout your career in alerting us to the Dangers, and showing us a safe way forward. Your tireless efforts are greatly appreciated!

  158. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Another reason to move now:
    As a city slicker learning farming(self sufficiency) it is certain I will make mistakes. With civilisation functioning those mistakes would be mere annoyance, where in thirty or forty years they could be catastrophic.

    Fifty out of the way acres will not ensure my families survival, but it would increase the odds. The odds will not be good in a city short of food, water, and power. Those shortages could arrive slowly or quite suddenly. Collapse will not be uniform, slow increasing unavailability’s in some places, sudden rioting and genocide in others.

    Supposedly economically efficient systems can be very fragile. Resilience is not currently valued, it is inefficient. Consequently failure can cascade very quickly.

  159. John McCormick says:

    RE # 155

    John Mashey, thanks for the link to those beautiful pictures of the Canadian Shield. They say it all.

    A thousand pictures can say a million words.

    Some commenters appear to think that one merely loads up the family and drives, flies or however goes to another country and sets up camp. Not going to happen unless they bring all they money needed to buy their way in.

    When President Kennedy was inaugurated, the world’s population was one half what it is today. Lot more feet to relocate.

    John McCormick

  160. Chris Winter says:

    Artful Dodger wrote (#158): “My only real question is, after the collapse, will we still have an Internet?”

    Much depends on the depth of the collapse, and when it happens. But I would say almost certainly not.

    It won’t go all at once. But without reliable power, most big server farms will be shut down. What’s whimsically called “backhoe fade” will also sever the net, over time. It happens even now, when the diagrams showing where optical fiber links are buried are easy to find. (I’m thinking of an incident near Gilroy, CA a couple of years ago.)

    Both data and voice communications will survive, however, thanks to amateur radio operators. But that service will be reserved mostly for emergency and health-and-welfare messages.

  161. Matto says:

    I don’t understand why we’re talking about 2035-2060, we should be doing this now. If we are wise enough to learn from history we can move to rural locations, become self sufficient farmers and live happily in an agrarian socialist paradise. Here’s a great historical example of how that can work out:

  162. David Smith says:

    So, you’re willing to contemplate a life disrupting (and possibly ending) crash due to AGW, in our lifetime. Why not stop buying dirty energy right now, take the lifestyle hit now and avoid the whole thing? This must be the definition of cultural insanity.


  163. Alex says:

    sudden rioting and genocide in others

    Most historical genocides are rural. Khmer Rouge. Rwanda. Poland, the Baltics, and the Ukraine 1941-1944. De Montfort’s suppression of the Cathars. The conquest of the American West. Most riots, on the other hand, mess up a bunch of cars and street furniture and really wouldn’t be my first concern.

    The city I live in has been blockaded, placed under food and fuel rationing by a government with dictatorial war powers, bombed, attacked with ballistic missiles, threatened with invasion, deprived of its own mayoral government, and exposed to 2 depressions and a couple of recessions, and that’s just since 1914. And we’re still here, bigger and smellier than ever.

  164. David B. Benson says:

    Joan Savage — The Hopi are (the descendants of) the Anasazi.

  165. David B. Benson says:

    Disheartening to see so many who seem to think that the Pacific Northwest can prosper with even the current overpopulation, much less absorb all the Californians…

  166. David B. Benson says:

    That includes Idaho, by the way.

  167. Ron says:

    While I understand the reason the question was asked, I’m not very satisfied with it. Pursuing a “the grass will be greener on the other side of the fence” strategy for adaptation is a fool’s game. If you want to survive the next 20, 50 years of climate chaos – here are 10 better ideas than searching for Shangri-la.

    1. Lose weight
    2. Exercise more
    3. Move closer to family
    4. Get to know your neighbors
    5. Join a church
    6. Join a community organization
    7. If you really live in flood zone or a few miles from a hurricane coast, move inland.
    8. Store 30 days of food and water
    9. Have an alternate, local heat source
    10. Get an electric generator and store some fuel.

    Extreme weather events are endurable – especially with some preparation. Some include a prolonged lack of electricity. Local shortages of fuel might occur. Natural gas deliveries may be disrupted. All can be dealt with by proper preparation. Harden your residence so you can survive 30 days without outside food, water, fuel, or power.

    Climate change with peak oil could/will strain national economies – but 300 million Americans aren’t moving to Canada. Learn to live where you are. If you don’t have well water, create ponds and use water barrels. If you need heat, have a wood stove, wood piles, and chainsaws for backup. If your soil is poor, learn to improve it through composting and vermiculture. Redundancy and alternate systems are your friend. But remember this – YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL ALONE. But, then again, you won’t be all alone.

    I sense a whiff of doom and hopeless inevitability through this thread. Banish it with work and learning and seizing opportunity. Dig in! Enjoy! You didn’t really want to spend your retirement playing World of Warcraft did you?

  168. David B. Benson says:

    And also, those proposing Tierra del Fuego (tip of South America, south Argentina) probably don’t understand the current characteristics of the region, much less predictions for future decades.

  169. Roger says:

    Well, now that we’ve got some 14 dozen views of ‘the abyss’ we’re heading for, full steam ahead, we can see that it’s not pretty.

    One can have many REACTIONS from reading through the 170+ comments to date. Here are a few of mine FWTW:

    1. Joe, you should consider sticking links to these weekend threads into a seperate sidebar; they’re too valuable to allow them to simply fade into the background.

    2. I can’t believe this is really happening, in the US, in the 21st century. Citizens are discussing how best to survive, and there’s still no national call to action for us to cooperate and solve it?

    3. Are we all going to quietly file, like sheep to their slaughter, to this hell and high water future? As mentioned earlier, I hope Joe’s present to us all will be an open thread for ACTIONABLE and practical suggestions on what we can do, Scrooge-like, to avert such a bleak Christmas future.

    (By actionable, I mean things that readers can go out and do, most likely in cooperation with others, to get our governments and our citizens on the 2011 path that the science demands.) NVDA anyone?

    What do others think? Should we resign ourselves, or boldly act?

  170. David Smith says:

    Here is an action. Get a sticker and place it on your car. We need to find out who is out there and concerned. The first step in a full mobilization. Do it!

  171. Nancy says:

    #74, David: Wearing these sayings as a button or badge on your coat or backpack would enable you to respond to people who read it. That’s where a prepared 30-second elevator speech will come in handy. It should always conclude with “contact your representative and senator and demand action”.

    I think you’ll be surprised how many people are alarmed about climate change, but don’t know what to do.

  172. Anna Haynes says:

    Speaking of Open Threads (not of best places to live) –

    The ClimateProgress weekend threads are a great idea, and I think they can be made way more helpful to readers with a few small changes.

    How about…

    1. Doing the weekend posts as a _triplet_ –
    a) a true Open Thread
    b) a “Theme Thread”
    c) an “Actions done or in progress” thread, for stuff like Gail’s Climate Hawk lapel pins
    (and moderate threads b) and c) by moving off-topic comments over to the Open Thread)

    2. Have (or let) someone go through the “Theme thread” afterwards & pull out/summarize salient stuff, & post that summary where visitors to the orig. post will easily be able to see it.
    (e.g. I’ve now “concentrated” the “What is the Call to Action” thread ideas, but need a place to put it…)

    Some threads should continue or recur, e.g. the “What is the call to action” one; I missed the Dec4 thread so can’t add my 2 cents where it’ll be seen.

    And please, please, please, have ClimateProgress use the “threaded comments” WordPress plug-in.

    Maybe have a thread for ‘blog feature’ suggestions, & pledge drives?

  173. Anna Haynes says:

    …”blog feature” pledge drives, I mean; I’d donate $20 if ClimateProgress got threaded comments.

  174. Marcus says:

    The city with the highest quality of living will still be Vienna (Austria/Europe).
    Drinking water will be an issue…Vienna got it.
    Energy will be an issue…Vienna.

    It`s 400m above sea level.
    There might be more snow or less snow, does not really matter for tourism.
    Floddings are not a problem in the City. The danube can`t flood Vienna anymore since there has been dug a second canal.
    The climate will still be good even if temperature rise in summer or fall in winter.

    I don`t understand why anyone would care about property prices.
    You buy something to live there. When you resell it for less than you bought it you still have lived there.
    Just sell it cheaper and cheaper to the next one and so on.
    When you sold it go inland and you will get something similar without the coast for about the same price or cheaper (depends on wehre you go).
    You don`t need to make profit when reselling a house. You don`t expect the same from reselling your old car.
    When you die before you have to abandon your house everything is fine also. It will be washed away with no loss (There is a German saying: The last shirt has no pockets.)

  175. monkey says:

    I think a lot depends on what actually happens. While many can make projections climate is a very complex thing and the temperature changes are not linear globally, never mind when one considers the interaction of various factors, you could even see some areas cool while the world warms. This past winter was a classic example since depsite its warmth globally, the Eastern United States and Europe had their coldest winter in almost 30 years, so whats to say something like this wouldn’t become the norm. Assuming things go as projected, I would though say Pacific Northwest, New England, and much of Canada. Asides from the Pacific Northwest, winters are quite harsh in the other areas and would become more tolerable while summers aren’t that hot to begin with and are unlikely to become too extreme. Most people in those areas don’t have air conditioning so if you add that in and never mind the drop in heating bills could easily be used to add air conditioning, this seems like a good place. I would not recommend Europe. If anything I think their climate will be more extreme with colder winters but hotter summers as opposed to warmer year round. Off course considering how difficult it is to make future projections, this is all speculation as it is only 90% certain the earth will warm, there is a 10% chance it will stay the same or cool. Add to the fact population growth, external factors such as volcanic activities are big question marks. Large volcanoes (A 6 or higher) cause global cooling due to block the sunlight. There has been relatively little volcanic activity this past century, but if this increases, this could totally result in different outcomes than any projection. In addition I tend to think the 3 to 4C rise as highly unlikely. The earth only warmed 0.7C last century and 0.16C in the past decade, thus 1-2C seems more likely which is far less dramatic and far more manageable. For one, most developed countries have a birth rate below replacement level and as developing countries see their standards of living rise, their birth rates should fall, thus I actually believe that the World’s population will begin to decline sometime around 2050 and fewer people means less greenhouse gases irrespective of what actions we take. Never mind the fact we haven’t seen warming on the scale projected by the environmentalists to date makes me skeptical about why they are so certain it will occur. The only way you could derive those numbers is if you use calculus which gives the rate of change and assume the rate of change in temperature increase continues, which doesn’t seem to be happening. I tend think the change will be more a linear graph than a sharp curve upwards.

  176. Anna Haynes says:

    If anyone were still reading this thread, I would request that they take a look at this climate collage (link) I put together, and critique it.

    (the goal was to communicate the essentials w/o driving viewers away or assaulting their vision with too many things at once; I want to laminate & post it where it will be seen. And I hope others might do the same.)

  177. monkey says:

    Interesting graph, although it looks pretty linear to me from 1960 to the present rather than a sharp upward curve, thus my reasoning for suggesting warming of 1-2C over the next century as opposed to 3 to 4C. As for over the past millenium, that is somewhat more disputable since as someone who studied history and knows (at least with Europe, I know Europe’s climate doesn’t always match the globe), the evidence seems to suggest the climate, especially winters were much harsher from 1600-1850 than by the turn of the century. Likewise in the Medieval Warm Period, temperatures were likely comparable to today if not warmer. Not significantly warmer as the skeptics like to claim, but not as cool as the beginning of the century. One just has to look at the crops people grew and that can give some indication. Likewise my point about Europe being much harsher during the Little Ice Age can be based on the lifestyles. In Holland, the average winter temperature is 3C today yet skating on the canals was a popular event that started in this time. For it to become popular, that means the canals regularly froze over every year and this would be unlikely to happen if it was only a degree colder as the graph suggests. I am not a denier, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with questioning the degree of warming. After all, if you go overboard in your predictions and they don’t materialize your side will lose all credibility whereas if you are more conservative in your predictions people in the future are more likely to take any predictions made more seriously.

  178. Mond from Oz says:

    It’s not just GW: there are at least four interlinked crises rolling down. World population is set to increase by around 40% in the next 40 years; extreme weather events will make cropping unpredictable and difficult; oil will become more expensive, with effects on fertliliser supply and transport (and, unhappily, resulting in increasing use of coal as a substitute). Food reserves will be further endangered, and increased atmospheric carbon runs in background.

    If, as I believe, it is still possible that comprehensive action in the immediate future can very substantially slow these processes, then we need to focus on the necessary strategies. These lie in the difficult domains of politics. But can governments in party-based democracies bring in the necessary painful changes? With a populist and opportunistic opposition waiting, well funded by vested interests, and snarling cheap slogans from the wings? Doing so will take courage, clear steady vision, and a well informed and mobilised electorate.

    But it was done by Roosevelt in the New Deal, done everywhere in the great war mobilisations of the 30s and 40s , and it can be done now. Success will take intensive participation in the political process, not Davey Crocket fantasies about heading for the hills.

    It will require the rapid dissemination of information, and the generation of ‘rolling up the sleeves’ enthusiasm. It will require the sort of money and expertise that the US associates with high politics. A magnate or two would be useful. In media maybe? (I wonder if Rupert would like a change? Ask him, somebody?)

  179. William P says:

    The posts on this subject are the most realistic, thoughtful and advanced thinking on global warming I’ve seen anywhere.

    No gushing about some new light bulb or a cheaper solar panel and how they will save us all. I would be so nice but the folks here sense how far down that CO2 path man has traveled without any preparation or concern.

    Arnold #125 – valuable post. In Norway you say half the food is imported. To your knowledge could humans survive in the north of Norway on what they can grow? (this question leaves aside many caveats, I know like invasion by more people that the land could ever support and other possibilities)

    Others have raised tough questions about the quality of soil in the far north, and lack of light. That lower level of sunlight affects Norway, yet they grow half their food. That’s hopeful.

    Man had a fierce ice age to contend with, yet he migrated and survived. That’s why James Lovelock feels man will survive global warming, by migrating the other direction – north.

    I lot of preparation and development of this kind of thinking and planning should be taking place right now. Instead we have numb skulls beating up on Al Gore for fun. Oh, when that big wake up call comes, what will they say then!

    Keep this kind of conversation going, people. Good work! We have contributions from all over the world with a lot of knowledge and intelligence to start realistic thinking and planning on survival for at least some. It beats just being depressed and giving up. Paraphrasing, Lovelock says “man is tough and he will find a way.” I’m with him.

  180. Richard Brenne says:

    Great comments!

    I moved from a continental to a marine climate (Boulder, Colorado to Portland, Oregon) in part because when the home heating oil and then natural gas go away someday in the years or decades ahead, a marine climate where it rarely dips below freezing will keep pipes from freezing, etc.

    Also Boulder County’s farms could feed about 6 per cent of the population, while the Willamette Valley percentage is much higher.

    And this is where my closest family members and lifelong friends I’ve often known for over half a century are. Every day I see and help people I’ve known since I was born, and get together with friends from college, high school and back to the first grade. In addition to working on the communication of all this – the biggest immediate danger is that the lack of understanding of why we’re collapsing will lead to scapegoating, wars and genocides – and all the political activism I can muster, I also work in my church and community and neighborhood to develop the most appropriate mitigation AND adaptation at all levels. While I would prefer mitigation whenever possible, there is nothing either/or about all this.

    A marine climate means sweaters and down vests and jackets could mean a livable house when the heat we’re used to goes out for good. Ron (#171) has an excellent list but he assumes these heating sources and electricity will always come back, when I think someday they might not.

    And chainsaws and wood stoves (which in moderation and using existing deadwood could be helpful) are another prime example of the Tragedy of the Commons at work – if everyone uses this resource, how long before all surrounding trees have been cut? And isn’t that usually a prime factor in eco-system collapse caused by humans?

    There are many forces at work here, but one primary force is that most Americans and even a higher percentage of the richest Americans have not wanted to pay taxes to support the rebuilding of infrastructure, which was mostly constructed in the infinitely more liberal 1930s through the 1960s.

    Most of that infrastructure was built with a 50 to at most a 100 year life span, and much of that infrastructure like bridges, dams, railroads, overpasses, roads of all kinds, sewers, drinking water delivery and all the components of the electrical grid are due for upgrades or they will collapse.

    Greed is so rampant in this country, especially among the richest and most conservative, that almost no one wants to pay for this, almost no taxes can be raised to pay for it, and almost no politician can get elected saying they’ll raise taxes to pay for infrastructure.

    We’ve painted ourselves into a corner with our greed and stupidity.

    Moore’s law in all micro processing and nanotechnology will continue, but it is like a wind-driven wave rebounding off a cliff jutting into the ocean (something I study regularly on the Oregon coast in big winter storms) meeting a Boxer Day 2004-sized tsunami (something else we’ll see on the Oregon Coast, when the Cascadia subduction zone earthquake will also drop the coastline an average of 1 to 2 meters). That tsunami represents infrastructure crumbling for all the reasons I and so many great commenters mention above.

    So the internet and all digital media will go away in most of our lifetimes because of a loss of electricity in many places at many times, and likely someday most places most of the time.

    So what do we do? Yes, all the communication and activism and team-building in those areas we can. Also all the community-building among neighbors, friends and family we can. We’re here to find our tribe, among other things, and that’s something we need to do now and forever, and that will help us more than anything in addition to our spiritual progress.

    We need to give and not get, to care for all others and accept everyone as our family rather than caring only for ourselves or only for our family – the end result of such thinking is depicted in the classic Godfather movies, where the Corleone family kills those who oppose them. This is bad for individual and family karma.

    We need all of our communities to vow that we will never hurt anyone to take their stuff and will never steal in any way – but the community can defend itself, especially its most vulnerable members including all children and women. (No matter how funny I found Anne’s comment [at #50] I will not accept her or any woman being dragged by their hair as an acceptable form of alternative transportation.)

    In terms of security and defense a community makes sense, while an isolated compound of hoarding by a single family or small group in Idaho or anywhere else will only be more of a target.

    As with most things, these are not either/or arguments, but usually some form of E) all of the above – especially essentially all of the comments above.

  181. Terry Mock says:

    Southern Oregon Coast Mixing Nature, Tradition and Economics for a Sustainable Future –

    One of the more progressive areas the region, when it comes to sustainability and economic growth, is the small community of Port Orford. With a current population of just over 1,000 residents, Port Orford was the established in 1851, the first on the Oregon Coast.

    In September 2008, the Port Orford Ocean Resource Team (POORT), with a mission to engage Port Orford fishers and other community members in developing and implementing a strategic plan and framework that ensures the long-term sustainability of the Port Orford reef ecosystem and social system dependent on it, proposed making the Redfish Rocks area south of Port Orford a marine reserve. The POORT also recommended a broader Marine Protection Area that would “encompass the state waters of the Port Orford Community Stewardship Area…” of some 30 miles in length along the southern Oregon coast. This 935-square-mile reserve is intended to protect “…terrestrial, freshwater, intertidal and ocean reserves…” which in turn would protect the fisheries viability of the Port Orford community…

    Sustainable Land Development Goes Carbon Negative –

    “Climate change is inevitable, proceeding and even accelerating.”

    With those alarming opening words, British scientist James Lovelock, author of the new book, “The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning,” is delivering a sobering message to large and influential audiences around the world. He says there’s nothing we can do now but adapt and survive. He claims it is too late for sustainable development and says civilization’s best strategy is “sustainable retreat.” If we stopped burning fossil fuels tomorrow, he explains, it wouldn’t do much. We’ve already released enough carbon over the past hundred years to push us past the point of no return.

    When pushed, Lovelock says, the only way we could do something meaningful to avoid catastrophe is to extract and permanently store CO2 from the atmosphere, in addition to dramatically reducing our emissions. And the approach with the most potential, says Lovelock, is to turn biomass material into charcoal, now re-branded as “biochar,” in a process known as “pyrolysis” and then bury it…

    The land development industry is uniquely positioned to utilize SLDI best management practices to take advantage of emerging ancient and new biochar technologies to help address a multitude of pressing environmental, social and economic concerns by balancing the needs of people, planet and profit – for today and future generations.

  182. Danny Bloom says:

    Reading through the 200 comments, I noted to myself that many people are now admitting in public that they agree with James Lovelock’s predictions about mass migrations north in the future to live in climate refuges for climate refugees. And with Danny Bloom, who as you know, calls these Lovelockian ”climate settlements” in the far north — and in New Zealand and Tasmania too — as “polar cities”, where survivors of climate chaos will be housed to serve as Lovelock’s famous “breeding pairs” of humans in the future.

    It’s no longer science fiction or mere eccentricity on the part of Lovelock or Bloom, but many people are now embracing these ideas, as seen in comments above. Bloom, 61, calls himself “James Lovelock’s Accidental Student” since he got his idea for polar cities directly from Lovelock. 91, and Lovelock has seen Bloom’s images and ideas of polar citiees and said ”’yes yes, it may happen and soon” in an email.

    So the fact that so many comments actually say what Lovelock and Bloom have been saying in the past indicates that the awful A-word — ADAPTATION — is now taking over from mitigation. It would be nice and useful and helpful is one day Joe Romm takes some time to do a gentle blog post about Bloom and his polar cities meme.

    [JR: Polar cities, as defined here, are not really what folks have been saying here. This is a post on what individuals should do.

    The notion that people would migrate north is hardly “Lovelockian.” It is “obvious.” It isn’t the “A-word” that is being discussed here — It is the “M-word” (misery). National-level adaptation like polar cities takes 1) a strong understanding of climate science by the public, media, and politicians, which is currently lacking and 2) $$$$$ to spend abating climate impacts, which is also lacking. We aren’t there yet. Not even close, as I discuss here.

    I’m not inherently against ‘polar cities’ — but if we are going to dream we live in a world that had #1 and #2, focusing on mitigation makes more sense. Doesn’t mean I won’t do a post, just means you should stop bombarding me with emails and comments.]

  183. Keith says:

    Looks like Americans agree with you. These fools are still moving into the Sunbelt. You’re wrong about not caring about property prices. Cars are relatively small investments. These fools moving into the Sunbelt are going to lose life savings when we hit the 2020’s and all property values plummet south of the Mason-Dixon and west of Appalachia.

  184. susan says:

    Can anyone suggest a source that explains what might be expected in particular geographic locations. I live on an island in Downeast Maine (Mount Desert Island) and would like to start a focus group to discuss and plan for our future.

    Thanks for posting your thoughtful ideas. And thank you to Climate Progress for leading the way.

  185. William P says:

    #188 Susan

    Probably there is little or nothing on the kind of micro climate data and projections you seek. But that is the kind of information needed on a large scale – predicting areas where climate is more likely to be favorable.

    That could be a project for your focus group. Contact scientists familiar with your area and start thinking about what the climate is likely to be as CO2 and world temperatures climb.

    There appears to be a lot of uncertainly surrounding global warming and its specific impacts on given areas, but your group’s ideas and conclusions could be as successful as anyone’s with careful work.

  186. Anna Haynes says:

    New and very much improved climate collage(s?).

  187. Mona says:

    #110 Roger: Amen. Bless you and all of us as we’re just about to hit Christmas here.

    These comments are surprising only in that so few people see hope that we can avoid a total collapse. Isn’t anyone hopeful?

    If you want to do something, join my Facebook group, Climate Rapid Response (different from the scientists’ group). I’m not giving up.

  188. Marcus says:

    @191. Mona

    I don`t see a colapse.
    There will be more refugees but why should civilized coutries get problems with people moving some kilometers inland?

    We have already disconected production and consumption.
    We are wating over 40% of our food.
    In fact there would be enough for everybody right now. Its just a question of distribution.
    People (and I have the feeling Americans are leading that group) have lost a view of reality. They sit at home, watch some TV and believe their reality is the only or even the dominant one.
    But thats just some percent of world population which got everything.
    Nothing that cant be compensated by a little adaption.

    Like I said before. Who cares about property prices?
    You should not spent so much of your money in property anyways (let alone all your live savings…).
    People should invest in children, education and social stability. Thats everything we really need.
    If you lose your home and your children can`t provide you with everything you need you should be able to get help from society/community.

    Infrastructure should not be privatised. If that is the case only the highest bidder will get help.
    Maybe socialst countries will be the most stable when a crysis arises.