how climate migration will reshape america propublica
The decisions we make about where to live are distorted not just by politics that play down climate risks, but also by expensive subsidies and incentives aimed at defying nature. ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine reported from Central America, Mexico and the United States to trace the potential impact of an overheating planet on human migration.. Given that a new study projects a 20% increase in extreme-fire-weather days by 2035, such practices suggest a special form of climate negligence. (A detailed analysis of the maps is available here.). As former Gov. Hurricanes batter the East. Market shock, when driven by the sort of cultural awakening to risk that Keenan observes, can strike a neighborhood like an infectious disease, with fear spreading doubt — and devaluation — from door to door. From Maine to North Carolina to Texas, rising sea levels are not just chewing up shorelines but also raising rivers and swamping the subterranean infrastructure of coastal communities, making a stable life there all but impossible. On a sweltering afternoon last October, with the skies above me full of wildfire smoke, I called Jesse Keenan, an urban-planning and climate-change specialist then at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, who advises the federal Commodity Futures Trading Commission on market hazards from climate change. Census data shows us how Americans move: toward heat, toward coastlines, toward drought, regardless of evidence of increasing storms and flooding and other disasters. Part of the problem is that most policies look only 12 months into the future, ignoring long-term trends even as insurance availability influences development and drives people’s long-term decision-making. Those who stay behind are disproportionately poor and elderly. The most affected people, meanwhile, will pay 20% more for energy, and their crops will yield half as much food or in some cases virtually none at all. For 93 million of them, the changes could be particularly severe, and by 2070, our analysis suggests, if carbon emissions rise at extreme levels, at least 4 million Americans could find themselves living at the fringe, in places decidedly outside the ideal niche for human life. Imagine large concrete walls separating Fort Lauderdale, Florida, condominiums from a beachless waterfront, or dozens of new bridges connecting the islands of Philadelphia. SEE ALSO: Part 1: "The Great Migration" (New York Times Magazine) One day, it’s possible that a high-speed rail line could race across the Dakotas, through Idaho’s up-and-coming wine country and the country’s new breadbasket along the Canadian border, to the megalopolis of Seattle, which by then has nearly merged with Vancouver to its north. But like other scientists I’d spoken with, Keenan had been reluctant to draw conclusions about where these migrants would be driven from. Potentially millions of people in the U.S. will be displaced as the climate crisis makes certain regions increasingly uninhabitable, prompting new migrations that will reshape the country, a new report shows. Extreme humidity from New Orleans to northern Wisconsin will make summers increasingly unbearable, turning otherwise seemingly survivable heat waves into debilitating health threats. So insurers had rated it as “basically zero risk,” according to Kevin Van Leer, then a risk modeler from the global insurance liability firm Risk Management Solutions. Even where insurers have tried to withdraw policies or raise rates to reduce climate-related liabilities, state regulators have forced them to provide affordable coverage anyway, simply subsidizing the cost of underwriting such a risky policy or, in some cases, offering it themselves. Climate Change Will Make Parts of the U.S. Uninhabitable. Thank you for your interest in republishing this story. Another extreme drought would drive near-total crop losses worse than the Dust Bowl, kneecapping the broader economy. So it was with some sense of recognition that I faced the fires these last few weeks. According to new data analyzed by ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, warming temperatures, rising seas and changing rainfall will profoundly reshape the way people have lived in North America for centuries. A poll by researchers at Yale and George Mason universities found that even Republicans’ views are shifting: 1 in 3 now thinks climate change should be declared a national emergency. One in 10 households earns less than $10,000 a year, and rings of extreme poverty are growing on its outskirts even as the city center grows wealthier. So what will happen to Atlanta — a metro area of 5.8 million people that may lose its water supply to drought and that our data also shows will face an increase in heat-driven wildfires? ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Something like a tenth of the people who live in the South and the Southwest — from South Carolina to Alabama to Texas to Southern California — decide to move north in search of a better economy and a more temperate environment. What I found was a nation on the cusp of a great transformation. The federal National Flood Insurance Program has paid to rebuild houses that have flooded six times over in the same spot. I awoke to learn that more than 1,800 buildings were reduced to ashes, less than 35 miles from where I slept. Eighty years later, Dust Bowl towns still have slower economic growth and lower per capita income than the rest of the country. ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, with support from the Pulitzer Center, have for the first time modeled how climate refugees might move across international borders. Three of the largest fires in history burned simultaneously in a ring around the San Francisco Bay Area. Yet there were so many intangibles — a love of nature, the busy pace of life, the high cost of moving — that conspired to keep us from leaving. Buffalo, New York, may feel in a few decades like Tempe, Arizona, does today, and Tempe itself will sustain 100-degree average summer temperatures by the end of the century. Perhaps no market force has proved more influential — and more misguided — than the nation’s property-insurance system. At the same time, more than 1.5 million people have moved to the Phoenix metro area, despite its dependence on that same river (and the fact that temperatures there now regularly hit 115 degrees). It’s an early sign, he told me, that the momentum is about to switch directions. The Great Plains states today provide nearly half of the nation’s wheat, sorghum and cattle and much of its corn; the farmers and ranchers there export that food to Africa, South America and Asia. Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). It was no surprise, then, that California’s property insurers — having watched 26 years’ worth of profits dissolve over 24 months — began dropping policies, or that California’s insurance commissioner, trying to slow the slide, placed a moratorium on insurance cancellations for parts of the state in 2020. The story uses data from Rhodium Group and the Climate Impact Lab, and corresponds with a ProPublica piece featuring interactive maps. Suddenly I had to ask myself the very question I’d been asking others: Was it time to move? abrahm lustgarten is a senior environmental reporter for ProPublica, and frequently works in partnership with the New York Times Magazine. Americans have dealt with climate disaster before. By comparison, Americans are richer, often much richer, and more insulated from the shocks of climate change. Such neighborhoods see little in the way of flood-prevention investment. If you’re republishing online, you must link to the URL of this story on propublica.org, include all of the links from our story, including our newsletter sign up language and link, and use our. Thick smoke produced fits of coughing. After the first one, all the food in our refrigerator was lost. According to new data from the Rhodium Group analyzed by ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, warming temperatures and changing rainfall will drive agriculture and temperate climates northward, while sea level rise will consume coastlines and dangerous levels of humidity will swamp the Mississippi River valley. Add to that the people contending with wildfires and other risks, and the number of Americans who might move — though difficult to predict precisely — could easily be tens of millions larger. This article, the third in a series on global climate migration, is a partnership between ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, with support from the Pulitzer Center.Read Part 1 and Part 2. The story published Tuesday is the second installment in a series on global climate migration that stems from a collaboration between ProPublica and the New York Times, with support from the Pulitzer Center.. In recent years, summer has brought a season of fear to California, with ever-worsening wildfires closing in. The tax base declines and the school system and civic services falter, creating a negative feedback loop that pushes more people to leave. Abrahm Lustgarten, senior environmental reporter with ProPublica, joins host Krys Boyd to talk about projections of global migration patterns modeled just 50 years from now and how they will upend our planet. The Sunday Read: ‘How Climate Migration Will Reshape America’ ... For two years, he had been studying the impact of the changing climate on global migration around the world. From 1929 to 1934, crop yields across Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri plunged by 60%, leaving farmers destitute and exposing the now-barren topsoil to dry winds and soaring temperatures. That’s what happened in Florida. Keenan, who is now an associate professor of real estate at Tulane University’s School of Architecture, had been in the news last year for projecting where people might move to — suggesting that Duluth, Minnesota, for instance, should brace for a coming real estate boom as climate migrants move north. Like many Californians, I spent those weeks worrying about what might happen next, wondering how long it would be before an inferno of 60-foot flames swept up the steep, grassy hillside on its way toward my own house, rehearsing in my mind what my family would do to escape. Even a subtle environmental change — a dry well, say — can mean life or death, and without money to address the problem, migration is often simply a question of survival. Vast regions will prosper; just as Hsiang’s research forecast that Southern counties could see a tenth of their economy dry up, he projects that others as far as North Dakota and Minnesota will enjoy a corresponding expansion. Mobility itself, global-migration experts point out, is often a reflection of relative wealth, and as some move, many others will be left behind. NY Times Magazine: "How Climate Migration Will Reshape America" This article, the second in a series on global climate migration, is a partnership between ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine , with support from the Pulitzer Center . Cities like Detroit; Rochester, New York; Buffalo and Milwaukee will see a renaissance, with their excess capacity in infrastructure, water supplies and highways once again put to good use. The sense that money and technology can overcome nature has emboldened Americans. You can’t state or imply that donations to your organization support ProPublica’s work. On Oct. 9, 2017, a wildfire blazed through the suburban blue-collar neighborhood of Coffey Park in Santa Rosa, California, virtually in my own backyard. In fact, the correction — a newfound respect for the destructive power of nature, coupled with a sudden disavowal of Americans’ appetite for reckless development — had begun two years earlier, when a frightening surge in disasters offered a jolting preview of how the climate crisis was changing the rules. Policymakers, having left America unprepared for what’s next, now face brutal choices about which communities to save — often at exorbitant costs — and which to sacrifice. ... Congress must partner with the incoming Biden administration to address the root causes of migration, including climate change. At the same time, participation in California’s FAIR plan for catastrophic fires has grown by at least 180% since 2015, and in Santa Rosa, houses are being rebuilt in the very same wildfire-vulnerable zones that proved so deadly in 2017. Under the radar, a new class of dangerous debt — climate-distressed mortgage loans — might already be threatening the financial system. Coffey Park is surrounded not by vegetation but by concrete and malls and freeways. Dust Bowl survivors and their children are less likely to go to college and more likely to live in poverty. In other parts of the world, including communities in Central America, the climate migration has begun. And federal agriculture aid withholds subsidies from farmers who switch to drought-resistant crops, while paying growers to replant the same ones that failed. The hopelessness of the pattern was now clear, and the pandemic had already uprooted so many Americans. As a result, Florida’s taxpayers by 2012 had assumed liabilities worth some $511 billion — more than seven times the state’s total budget — as the value of coastal property topped $2.8 trillion. They do it when there is no longer any other choice. So might Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, Boston and other cities with long-neglected systems suddenly pressed to expand under increasingly adverse conditions. The facts were clear and increasingly foreboding. Then what? Florida officials have already acknowledged that defending some roadways against the sea will be unaffordable. As California burned, Hurricane Laura pounded the Louisiana coast with 150-mile-an-hour winds, killing at least 25 people; it was the 12th named storm to form by that point in 2020, another record. This article, the second in a series on global climate migration, is a partnership between ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, with support from the Pulitzer Center. Those who stay risk becoming trapped as the land and the society around them ceases to offer any more support. You can’t sell our material separately or syndicate it. Florida, concerned that it had taken on too much risk, has since scaled back its self-insurance plan. We have official accounts for ProPublica and ProPublica Illinois on both Twitter (. Their interest suggested a growing investor-grade nervousness about swiftly mounting environmental risk in the hottest real estate markets in the country. Sign Up; Donate. A surge in air conditioning broke the state’s electrical grid, leaving a population already ravaged by the coronavirus to work remotely by the dim light of their cellphones. The wave begins when individual perception of risk starts to shift, when the environmental threat reaches past the least fortunate and rattles the physical and financial security of broader, wealthier parts of the population. According to new data analyzed by ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, warming temperatures, rising seas and changing rainfall will profoundly reshape the way people have lived in North America for centuries. His article, “How Climate Migration Will Reshape America” appears on ProPublica’s website and in The New York Times magazine. I had also helped create an enormous computer simulation to analyze how global demographics might shift, and now I was working on a data-mapping project about migration here in the United States. I mentioned this on the phone and then asked Keenan, “Should I be selling my house and getting — ”. I traveled across four countries to witness how rising temperatures were driving climate refugees away from some of the poorest and hottest parts of the world. Coastal high points will be cut off from roadways, amenities and escape routes, and even far inland, saltwater will seep into underground drinking-water supplies. When power was interrupted six more times in three weeks, we stopped trying to keep it stocked. You can’t republish our material wholesale, or automatically; you need to select stories to be republished individually. What might change? “It’s hard to forecast something you’ve never seen before,” he said. ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Similar patterns are evident across the country. See how the North American places where humans have lived for thousands of years will shift and what changes are in store for your county. To answer these questions, I interviewed more than four dozen experts: economists and demographers, climate scientists and insurance executives, architects and urban planners, and ProPublica mapped out the danger zones that will close in on Americans over the next 30 years. It happened that way in the foreclosure crisis. Phoenix, meanwhile, endured 53 days of 110-degree heat — 20 more days than the previous record. This includes publishing or syndicating our work on platforms or apps such as Apple News, Google News, etc. And if so — if a great domestic relocation might be in the offing — was it possible to project where we might go? In the News ProPublica, ... Taken with other recent research showing that the most habitable climate in North America will shift northward and the incidence of large fires will increase across the country, this suggests that the climate crisis will profoundly interrupt the way we live and farm in the United States. In much of the developing world, vulnerable people will attempt to flee the emerging perils of global warming, seeking cooler temperatures, more fresh water and safety. “The destruction was complete,” he told me. How Climate Migration Will Reshape America. One influential 2018 study, published in the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, suggests that 1 in 12 Americans in the Southern half of the country will move toward California, the Mountain West or the Northwest over the next 45 years because of climate influences alone. In February, the Legislature introduced a bill compelling California to, in the words of one consumer advocacy group, “follow the lead of Florida” by mandating that insurance remain available, in this case with a requirement that homeowners first harden their properties against fire. At that point, the authors write, “abandonment is one option.”. Another direct hurricane risked bankrupting the state. As I spoke with Keenan last year, I looked out my own kitchen window onto hillsides of parkland, singed brown by months of dry summer heat. Life has become increasingly untenable in the hardest-hit areas, but if the people there move, where will everyone go? The … What would it look like when twice that many people moved? There are signs that the message is breaking through. I wanted to know if this was beginning to change. Then, as now, I packed an ax and a go-bag in my car, ready to evacuate. How climate migration will reshape America. His focus is on the intersection of business, climate and energy. At the same time, they have all but stopped lending money for the higher-end properties worth too much for the government to accept, suggesting that the banks are knowingly passing climate liabilities along to taxpayers as stranded assets. That collective burden will drag down regional incomes by roughly 10%, amounting to one of the largest transfers of wealth in American history, as people who live farther north will benefit from that change and see their fortunes rise. In 2017, Solomon Hsiang, a climate economist at the University of California, Berkeley, led an analysis of the economic impact of climate-driven changes like rising mortality and rising energy costs, finding that the poorest counties in the United States — mostly across the South and the Southwest — will in some extreme cases face damages equal to more than a third of their gross domestic products. Abrahm Lustgarten's new series on global climate migration is a partnership between ProPublica and the New York Times Magazine. Droughts and floods wreak damage throughout the nation. But by the end of this century, if the more extreme projections of 8 to 10 feet of sea-level rise come to fruition, the shoreline of San Francisco Bay will move 3 miles closer to my house, as it subsumes some 166 square miles of land, including a high school, a new county hospital and the store where I buy groceries. 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