America, rich America, is becoming worried about climate change. The folks who own all that stately waterfront property on Martha's Vineyard are beginning to realize they're pretty much screwed. The same for their cousins in the pricier parts of Nantucket. Ditto for Malibu. There are holdouts. Florida's brain dead governor, Rick Scott, still won't hear any talk from state officials about "global warming." No, you better not say that.
|Moving Day, Martha's Vineyard|
But it's not just pricey waterfront that's in peril. America's human pizza oven, Phoenix, has a grim future. Stuck out in the midst of the Arizona desert, Phoenix has become America's fifth largest city. Another 30 years and it could be uninhabitable.
Heat is one factor that will make Phoenix less hospitable to human habitation in the foreseeable future. “It’s currently the fastest warming big city in the US,” meteorologist and former Arizona native Eric Holthaus tells Vice. A study by Climate Central finds that Phoenix will likely be three to five degrees hotter in the summer months by 2050. The average number of 100 degree days will increase from 40 a year today to more than 132 a year. To put that in some perspective, New York City currently experiences two 100 degree days a year. Climate Central expects that number to increase to 15 a year by 2050.
Heat is not the only factor making the Phoenix area less hospitable to humans. Hondula says that lack of water could be more of a problem than rising temperatures. “As much as 20 percent of the river could dry up by 2050,” he says. The majority of the drinking water for the area comes from the Colorado River — the same source that much of southern California depends on.
In 2012, the Department of the Interior released a climate change study that warns of a precipitous drop in the amount of water available from the Colorado River in coming years. As reported by the Washington Post, the report suggests that less precipitation in the Rocky Mountains will result in a decrease in the amount of water flowing in the Colorado equivalent to 3.2 million acre-feet — about five times as much water as Los Angeles uses each year. Southern California has first claim to whatever water is available. Phoenix may have to do without.
And then there's that other factor, the one nobody is talking about, money.
The thing about anthropogenic global warming is that it varies from region to region. You can break the United States down into climate change regions, each with its own mix of impacts. America's eastern seaboard is one, the Gulf coast another, the west coast can be divided south and north, the southwest desert, the great plains, the mid-west and the northeast, each will have its own climate change challenges.
Business Insider reports that, while every part of the US is going to get hard, America has one area that really stands out from the rest.
Somewhere that's warm but not too warm, free from hurricanes and flood-causing downpours, and close to a body of water yet far enough to avoid the threat of sea-level rise.
Which places does that leave? According to climate scientists and urban planners, not a lot.
"The bottom line is it's going to be bad everywhere," Bruce Riordan, the director of the Climate Readiness Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, told Business Insider.
All of them are cities, which tend to be less isolated than rural areas, and most are in the Pacific Northwest.
"Much of the Pacific Northwest is really well-positioned for being one of the better places for climate change," Shandas said.
Geographically speaking, cities in the Pacific Northwest are also conveniently situated near natural resources like water — an integral buffer against drought — and hills, which provide access to higher elevations with cooler temperatures. The region's temperature is naturally fairly mild, making it a good candidate for those hoping to avoid the heat waves that are already becoming more common.