For decades, Americans have been moving south and west. That migration pattern become apparent in American politics, when seven congressional districts moved states after the 2020 census, and it continues to be visible in the booming construction and job markets in cities across the Sun Belt.On a local level, the result will look like the climate gentrification Miami is already experiencing.
In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, Galen speaks with author Jake Bittle, who argues that it’s only a matter of time before those trends reverse, or at least shift. Although, this time, he writes in his new book "The Great Displacement," it won’t be cheap housing, low taxes and plentiful jobs that attract people to new places. It will be a worsening climate that pushes them away.
Some climate refugees will only have to move a few miles, but in the process, they will raise prices for the people who already live there and in turn make them into internal economic migrants and indirect climate refugees as well. Not only does everything must go somewhere, but so does everyone. Without development that accommodate both the original and new residents, the lower income members of the community will have to move. That will just result in them being someone else's problem.That will be an issue in places the climate migrants/refugees move to as well, climate havens like Michigan. I see this as both a crisis and an opportunity.
I'm in favor of getting people to move here, both because it's a safer place to live (but not immune from the extreme weather associated with climate change as the second video mentioned) and because the state has room. Detroit alone lost more than one million people since its 1950 peak and other Michigan cities have lost people as well, so they alone could take up the slack — that is, if they can become better places to live and work. People moved out of Michigan to seek work, so state and local governments need to work with businesses to promote and create sustainable industries to employ the people who move here and rebuild infrastructure to support them in a warmer and, for Michigan, wetter world. Infrastructure and housing construction to accommodate people moving here will provide a lot of jobs by themselves, but that only lasts so long. Ask Las Vegas, for example.This might happen sooner than many people expect, as the U.S. is warming faster than the global average, so Michigan and other climate havens need to be prepared for it.
Mentioning Las Vegas reminded me that I should follow up on the water situation in the American West, including Great Salt Lake and Las Vegas. Stay tuned.