Author Topic: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?  (Read 2498 times)

newgirl

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Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« on: January 15, 2018, 12:38:43 PM »
Something I've been mulling over for a while...

Are there any particular areas of the US that strike you as being better positioned than others to cope with nearer-term (like next 50-100 years) effects of climate change?

Obviously climate change will impact different areas of the country differently - from droughts/wildfires to hurricanes. We live in MN, and one of the reasons I've been reluctant to explore other places to live (that are more low-cost and have milder winters) is that, in the near term, I feel like MN is fairly well positioned to absorb some of the negative effects of climate change - we have access to a lot of water here, we are not fire prone, there is a decent variety of agriculture and things that can be grown, lots of public land to hunt and fish, you could probably get some decent mileage out of both solar and wind power, etc. Hell if anything short term climate change might actually make the winters livable.

It's sort of a back of my mind type of thought but when I think about where and how we are going to raise our kids over the next 20 years or so, this stuff weighs heavily in the calculations. Maybe more heavily than it should. I suppose that the best preparation for climate change is to get yourself in a position to be extremely mobile in the future (geographically and financially), but I have to be honest, that doesn't hold a lot of appeal to me. Unlike a lot of people on the boards I'm just not a traveler, and certainly I would prefer to raise my kids in one place.

Anyone else think about this stuff?


nereo

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2018, 02:58:13 PM »
Two potential sources you might find interesting;
1) insurance actuaries routinely put out risk assessments, often down to the county level and sometimes to individual properties. There are all sorts of maps showing your risks against a variety of natural disasters.
2) climate models (a-la the IPCC's AR5 and the National CLimate Assessment) can give you a lot of information on what changes a particular area will experience over the coming decades. Some regions will change far more than others.

Neither is going to be terribly useful for 100 year predictions, as there are so many assumptions 'baked in' that the degree of change becomes highly uncertain. Few climate models even attempt to predict past 2100 (82 years) - 100 years is asking a lot.

What's even harder to predict is the social-economic shifts which may happen. Will MN see an influx or outflux of people? Climate predictions have the midwest experiencing more heat waves and drought conditions, though an increase in the number of frost-free days (which could help big-Ag in the short term).  What will the world economic-stage look like - will the three largest economies still be US/China/Japan (most models suggest India, Indonesia and Brazil will crack into the top 5)? What will war, disease of famine do?  We're likely to see the number of global refugees increase dramatically - which countries take them in may influence their demographics for decades to come.

Finally, you said "I suppose that the best preparation for climate change is to get yourself in a position to be extremely mobile in the future " - flexibility is probably the best approach to very long-term planning.
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GuitarStv

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2018, 08:08:54 AM »
My inclination would be to look for:
- high ground (not flood prone)
- non-earthquake prone area
- not near a coast
- slightly cooler weather on average than you would like right now


I'd also be inclined to look for either:
- a remote area where people are more self-sufficient
- a highly populated area where there are too many people to ignore in the event of a crisis

If you have a lot of family, or very close friends in an area that would be a big benefit too . . . as you might depend upon support (or want to offer it) to others.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2018, 09:29:51 AM by GuitarStv »

StarBright

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2018, 08:24:32 AM »
My husband and I had this discussion a couple of years ago because we were faced with job options in Southern CA, the UK, and Ohio. I think Wales would have been awesome but was too far from family and we have children.

So we ended up in Ohio. We bought a house on the bluff side of a river and made sure it wasn't in any floodplains (though at some point, that data will go out the window, I think). We like that we are in area with trees, and water, and land, and because it was an old town, it was designed for walking.

Compared to SoCal - it is an area in which life can be easily sustained. I know it sounds silly, but it was important to me to be somewhere where water was easily accessible. The thought of taking water from someone else's river, or desalinating ocean water was just wacky to me. I think it is an amazing feat that humans can tame an environment and make a previously unlivable place, livable - but I don't necessarily thing we should do that if we can avoid it.

Milizard

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2018, 11:52:57 AM »
My inclination would be to look for:
- high ground (not flood prone)
- non-earthquake prone area
- not near a coast
- slightly cooler weather on average than you would like right now


I'd also be inclined to look for either:
- a remote area where people are more self-sufficient
- a highly populated area where there are too many people to ignore in the event of a crisis

If you have a lot of family, or very close friends in an area that would be a big benefit too . . . as you might depend upon support (or want to offer it) to others.

http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2018/01/natural_disaster_map_shows_why.html

newgirl

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2018, 01:21:56 PM »
My inclination would be to look for:
- high ground (not flood prone)
- non-earthquake prone area
- not near a coast
- slightly cooler weather on average than you would like right now


I'd also be inclined to look for either:
- a remote area where people are more self-sufficient
- a highly populated area where there are too many people to ignore in the event of a crisis

If you have a lot of family, or very close friends in an area that would be a big benefit too . . . as you might depend upon support (or want to offer it) to others.

http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2018/01/natural_disaster_map_shows_why.html

hah! Looks like my instinct to homestead in northern MN is a good one. I never really considered Michigan before, either. And Ohio doesn't look half bad either. Strictly for natural disasters, obviously.

GuitarStv

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2018, 01:45:13 PM »
Natural disasters just look at Detroit and say "They've suffered enough."

nereo

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2018, 02:00:11 PM »
Natural disasters just look at Detroit and say "They've suffered enough."
Speaking of Detroit - it's a good example of how hard it is to predict what an area will look like in 50 years.  50 years ago Detroit was an economic powerhouse (5th largest US city) and San Jose, CA was barely large enough to call itself a city.  Arizona's population quadrupeld, Florida's has tripled in size, California, Texas and Georgia have more than doubled... yet New York, Pennsylvania, Illionois and Michigan have barely grown at all.

What will various regions of the US look like in 50 years?  Who knows.
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Milizard

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2018, 06:52:01 PM »
Natural disasters just look at Detroit and say "They've suffered enough."
Speaking of Detroit - it's a good example of how hard it is to predict what an area will look like in 50 years.  50 years ago Detroit was an economic powerhouse (5th largest US city) and San Jose, CA was barely large enough to call itself a city.  Arizona's population quadrupeld, Florida's has tripled in size, California, Texas and Georgia have more than doubled... yet New York, Pennsylvania, Illionois and Michigan have barely grown at all.

What will various regions of the US look like in 50 years?  Who knows.

It used to be that larger cities were located where they made sense geographically--near navigable waterways and resources, such as drinking water.  The last decades took us away from that, thinking of places like Vegas and maybe Phoenix.  Probably lots of cities in particularly the southwest that have been made more habitable via human intervention.  However, the subject of this thread being climate change, that recent human intervention is likely to become more difficult and costly once again.  How much are we willing to continue to relocate the basic necessities of living vs. moving nearer to them?

nereo

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2018, 07:28:31 PM »
Natural disasters just look at Detroit and say "They've suffered enough."
Speaking of Detroit - it's a good example of how hard it is to predict what an area will look like in 50 years.  50 years ago Detroit was an economic powerhouse (5th largest US city) and San Jose, CA was barely large enough to call itself a city.  Arizona's population quadrupeld, Florida's has tripled in size, California, Texas and Georgia have more than doubled... yet New York, Pennsylvania, Illionois and Michigan have barely grown at all.

What will various regions of the US look like in 50 years?  Who knows.

It used to be that larger cities were located where they made sense geographically--near navigable waterways and resources, such as drinking water.  The last decades took us away from that, thinking of places like Vegas and maybe Phoenix.  Probably lots of cities in particularly the southwest that have been made more habitable via human intervention.  However, the subject of this thread being climate change, that recent human intervention is likely to become more difficult and costly once again.  How much are we willing to continue to relocate the basic necessities of living vs. moving nearer to them?

I think the above statement needs a huge asterick attached. Namely - what 'necessities of living' are we talking about that one must transport in order to make a particular habitable?  Water? Some form of heat? Access to shipping? Food?
Cities were located where it made sense at the time. Those that could provide lots of jobs grew. Most emerged along natural sheltered embayments because water transport was the only way of transporting most stuff.  Others were built for their military importance (Quebec) or because a missionary was established their (often for random historical reasons).  Madrid was specifically built to be inconveinent to get to. But take away their access to the sea and many of these older cities aren't any more "habitable" to ones that have sprung up in recent decades.  Two cities you mentioned - Phoenix & Las Vegas, are ideal spots for solar energy.  Is that less important today than some place like New England that relies heavily on importing fuel-oil for heating and electricity but has more water resources?  One imports/recycles a crap-ton of water, the other a crap-ton of fossil fuels.

Industrial cities still need deep-water ports, but that's not as important for other cities.  We built railroads (opening up most of the heartland of both the US and Canada) and then the interstate system. Some cities have flourished because of oil or tech or cattle or manufacturing. New England used to be filled with large cities and towns because of textile and lumber mills - then it became cheaper to import lumber from BC and textiles from Asia.  Quebec controlled the ST. Lawrence seaway - the only way of getting goods and grain from the midwest - until NY built the Erie canal and there was a way to bypass the gulf (NYC boomed, Quebec crashed).
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TheWifeHalf

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2018, 08:38:26 PM »
And Ohio doesn't look half bad either. Strictly for natural disasters, obviously.

The thing I notice most regarding climate change, is we are now a growing Zone 6 - we have been a Zone 5 since I needed to know such things, about 50 yrs.

Milizard

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2018, 08:04:14 AM »
Natural disasters just look at Detroit and say "They've suffered enough."
Speaking of Detroit - it's a good example of how hard it is to predict what an area will look like in 50 years.  50 years ago Detroit was an economic powerhouse (5th largest US city) and San Jose, CA was barely large enough to call itself a city.  Arizona's population quadrupeld, Florida's has tripled in size, California, Texas and Georgia have more than doubled... yet New York, Pennsylvania, Illionois and Michigan have barely grown at all.

What will various regions of the US look like in 50 years?  Who knows.

It used to be that larger cities were located where they made sense geographically--near navigable waterways and resources, such as drinking water.  The last decades took us away from that, thinking of places like Vegas and maybe Phoenix.  Probably lots of cities in particularly the southwest that have been made more habitable via human intervention.  However, the subject of this thread being climate change, that recent human intervention is likely to become more difficult and costly once again.  How much are we willing to continue to relocate the basic necessities of living vs. moving nearer to them?

I think the above statement needs a huge asterick attached. Namely - what 'necessities of living' are we talking about that one must transport in order to make a particular habitable?  Water? Some form of heat? Access to shipping? Food?
Cities were located where it made sense at the time. Those that could provide lots of jobs grew. Most emerged along natural sheltered embayments because water transport was the only way of transporting most stuff.  Others were built for their military importance (Quebec) or because a missionary was established their (often for random historical reasons).  Madrid was specifically built to be inconveinent to get to. But take away their access to the sea and many of these older cities aren't any more "habitable" to ones that have sprung up in recent decades.  Two cities you mentioned - Phoenix & Las Vegas, are ideal spots for solar energy.  Is that less important today than some place like New England that relies heavily on importing fuel-oil for heating and electricity but has more water resources?  One imports/recycles a crap-ton of water, the other a crap-ton of fossil fuels.

Industrial cities still need deep-water ports, but that's not as important for other cities.  We built railroads (opening up most of the heartland of both the US and Canada) and then the interstate system. Some cities have flourished because of oil or tech or cattle or manufacturing. New England used to be filled with large cities and towns because of textile and lumber mills - then it became cheaper to import lumber from BC and textiles from Asia.  Quebec controlled the ST. Lawrence seaway - the only way of getting goods and grain from the midwest - until NY built the Erie canal and there was a way to bypass the gulf (NYC boomed, Quebec crashed).
I'm not sure why there needs to be an asterisk,  as my post wasn't a dissertation,  but an idea, my idea being that climate change would result in a contraction of resources that have allowed for population growth in places where otherwise would not be feasible.  With less plentiful resources, a focus on logistical efficiency might be renewed. And yes, the necessities of life are food, water, shelter.  Electricity is nice and useful, too, but not a basic necessity of life.

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2018, 12:21:03 PM »
And Ohio doesn't look half bad either. Strictly for natural disasters, obviously.

The thing I notice most regarding climate change, is we are now a growing Zone 6 - we have been a Zone 5 since I needed to know such things, about 50 yrs.

I was surprised when I looked up my growing zone, it was more temperate than I expected for the Midwest. Though I'm still emphasizing drought tolerant, hardy plants that can take a beating from Mother Nature.

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2018, 02:58:43 PM »
Things are changing so much from year to year its hard to say. And being on high ground doesnt mean your safe from water. Can depend on the water table as well as flood rains. Down south they have more snow than the midwest. Its easier to say at least for me, I wouldn't live on the coast.
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pecunia

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2018, 06:13:50 PM »
Will there be more opportunities as the climate change?  People gotta eat.  Some places in the Northern Great Lakes region have a very short growing season.  Will global warming allow, for example, vineyards where none could easily exist before?  Perhaps a milder climate would allow multiple crops to be grown in a given year.

Will the lakes dry up or will there be more rain and they could expand?

GuitarStv

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2018, 08:47:50 AM »
Will there be more opportunities as the climate change?  People gotta eat.  Some places in the Northern Great Lakes region have a very short growing season.  Will global warming allow, for example, vineyards where none could easily exist before?  Perhaps a milder climate would allow multiple crops to be grown in a given year.

Will the lakes dry up or will there be more rain and they could expand?

Sure, some cold areas may warm up a bit on average . . . some dry areas may get wetter, and some wet areas may get drier.  The main issue that climate change brings is wider swings in weather though.  You might get a couple extremely dry years, and then a couple years with lots of flooding.

Plants tend to like consistency.  They have particular temperature ranges and watering requirements in order to survive, but to flourish these ranges are narrower.  Climate change therefore is likely to make most land less productive.

Syonyk

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2018, 09:25:50 AM »
Plants tend to like consistency.  They have particular temperature ranges and watering requirements in order to survive, but to flourish these ranges are narrower.  Climate change therefore is likely to make most land less productive.

This is one reason I'm very interested in building some earth sheltered greenhouses on my property for high density production (probably aquaponics based).
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Lichen

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2018, 10:06:41 AM »
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but MN is an area of concern for many environmental scientists. The entire region is suffering from extensive tree migration, much like most of the northern US and southern Canada. This is leaving deadwood, and coupled with decreasing rainfall and longer dry seasons, fires are expected to go up in areas that previously had few. Although MN historically has wildfires, they rarely are as intense as those in the west. MN has already experienced some of this. (The Boundary Waters fire a few years back is being used as a model of the effects of tree migration on fire seasons in university classrooms, for example.)

The problem with the natural disaster map linked is it is using historic data. Unfortunately, that is no longer a reliable method of predicting the future. It's also only addressing high profile disaster fears, and half of them are arguably not even climate related. It isn't showing wildfire danger. It isn't showing drought, extended heat, or more intense winters. It's not showing wind storms -- and a straight line wind burst at high enough speeds can be more damaging than any tornado. (Just ask the residents of central and eastern Washington, whom got hit with two such "freak" events in a single year in 2015.)

So is MN more resilient to climate change? No. Is it possible to weather climate change successfully and possibly thrive in MN? Possibly. Just be realistic about what dangers will increase or develop in the area, because no region will be untouched. My not too educated guess would be an increase in storm intensity off the lakes, drastic changes to growing season, and increased wildfires. There may also be, odd as it sounds, drought issues in portions of the region as the loss of the boreal forests changes local weather patterns.

sol

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2018, 10:34:59 AM »
I think climate resilience is going to be less important than economic resilience.  The two aren't entirely unrelated, but the explosive growth in places like Vegas highlights the difference.  Lots of natural disasters (like earthquakes and volcanoes) are significant threats that basically ignore climate, so if you're worried about natural disasters more than gradual warming trends, I'd consider those too.

Here's my appeal to authority:  I'm a natural resources scientist who deals with helping people plan for things like future climate scenarios, so part of my job is keeping up with the consensus projections for my part of the country (the west).

Average changes are pretty well understood.  In general, California and the southwest are not going to get an better, but keep in mind that people still thrive in Mexico and the US could thrive under a similar (hotter, drier) climate.  Western Canada is expected to get wetter, but they're used to rain and have low population density anyway.  My home, here in the Pacific Northwest, is pretty well situated for future climate because we have abundant water resources, moderate temperatures, and a healthy agricultural industry that would probably benefit from some warming.  Lots of the farmers I know would love to have California style sunshine.

The problem with future climate is not the averages, though.  It's the tail cases.  Consider a normal probability distribution curve like the one shown below.  Each weather event is a dot that falls somewhere under the big curve (the climate), but it's only the few cases out at the tail ends that people care about, extreme events like a "bomb cyclone" or heat waves/droughts/floods.



Those events happen at fixed values (of say temperature or rainfall amounts) represented by the vertical lines separating the light blue (happy weather) and dark blue (unhappy weather) regions.  Climate change gradually shifts the entire curve over to the right, but those vertical lines stay in the same place.  Because the distribution curve is taller in the middle than out at the ends, this shift means that the dark blue regions change in area pretty dramatically in response to small shifts of the curve.

In practice, this why extreme weather events like floods and heat waves happen so much more often in response to small changes in climate.  The extreme tail cases are much more sensitive.  No one even notices when a normal day is five degrees hotter than normal, but when the hottest day of the decade gets five degrees hotter people start to die.

Predicting these tail events is much harder than predicting the average shifts, because every weather event is just one dot somewhere under that big curve and some years none of those dots land in dark blue region, even if the region is statistically larger than it was last year.

We have to plan for the tail cases.  The tail cases are things like major floods that wipe out infrastructure, or blizzards in April, or storm surges that flood the eastern seaboard.


brooklynguy

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2018, 12:16:09 PM »
I think climate resilience is going to be less important than economic resilience. 

Agree.  In my view, my home city’s best protection against rising sea levels is its obscene concentration of nonportable wealth.  Given the real estate values at stake in NYC, the powers that be will reengineer the earth before surrendering the city to the sea, so we may suffer less than many areas with comparable geographic vulnerability.

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2018, 01:04:52 PM »
Plants tend to like consistency.  They have particular temperature ranges and watering requirements in order to survive, but to flourish these ranges are narrower.  Climate change therefore is likely to make most land less productive.

This is one reason I'm very interested in building some earth sheltered greenhouses on my property for high density production (probably aquaponics based).
Plants are acclimated not just to temperature but to light.  Northwards of the usual growing zone for a particular type of plant the amount of light available (eg the length of day over the growing season) changes.  In order to thrive in a different range plants have to adjust not just to different temperatures and water availabilities but also to different light availabilities.  It adds to the problem of plants flourishing in new ranges.
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StarBright

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #21 on: January 22, 2018, 08:27:44 AM »
@sol Thanks so  much for taking the time to add your expertise to these threads. I learn so much when I read your posts!

sol

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #22 on: January 22, 2018, 08:37:57 AM »
@sol Thanks so  much for taking the time to add your expertise to these threads. I learn so much when I read your posts!

I like to write.  Thanks for reading.

Given the real estate values at stake in NYC, the powers that be will reengineer the earth before surrendering the city to the sea, so we may suffer less than many areas with comparable geographic vulnerability.

Build that (sea)wall!


dougules

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2018, 11:44:09 AM »
I think a lot of the middle of the US has such a variable climate that climate change might be lost in the noise of crazy weather that never seems to follow any pattern anyway.  That might even be a reason so many Americans are climate skeptics. 

pecunia

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #24 on: February 03, 2018, 03:19:50 PM »
"I think a lot of the middle of the US has such a variable climate that climate change might be lost in the noise of crazy weather that never seems to follow any pattern anyway.  That might even be a reason so many Americans are climate skeptics."

I think there will be insects coming from the South with no native enemies that will thrive in the formerly cold climate of the American Midwest.  I think there will be invasive plants that have heretofore been unseen.  It's already been nasty to some species of trees.

Where I grew up, it was too cold for termites.  That will change.

How far North will we see some of those nasty Southern snakes?  Will there really be giant alligators or Crocs living in the sewers of New York?  A few degrees of temperature difference may be all that it takes.

dougules

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Re: Areas of the US most resilient to climate change?
« Reply #25 on: February 05, 2018, 11:46:03 AM »
"I think a lot of the middle of the US has such a variable climate that climate change might be lost in the noise of crazy weather that never seems to follow any pattern anyway.  That might even be a reason so many Americans are climate skeptics."

I think there will be insects coming from the South with no native enemies that will thrive in the formerly cold climate of the American Midwest.  I think there will be invasive plants that have heretofore been unseen.  It's already been nasty to some species of trees.

Where I grew up, it was too cold for termites.  That will change.

How far North will we see some of those nasty Southern snakes?  Will there really be giant alligators or Crocs living in the sewers of New York?  A few degrees of temperature difference may be all that it takes.

My husband is from PA, and he complains about it being more jungly down here, especially all the bugs.  I don't think native southern species going north will be that much of a problem, though, given that their native enemies will naturally move north with them.  The invasive non-native species here will be the problem.  You'll get to experience fire ants and kudzu. 

I guess I feel for you on snakes.  It's kind of a phobia for me.  I'm always really careful in the woods because copperheads and rattlesnakes are well camouflaged in leaves.  You just have to be careful to watch the ground when you walk somewhere they might be. 


« Last Edit: February 05, 2018, 11:51:32 AM by dougules »