Where to Live to Avoid Climate Change

Posted by Jolie Peters
(@Jolie Peters)

A recent report from UN Scientists stated that the world has slightly over a decade to drastically correct our carbon emissions, or else we will face unprecedented and un-reversible damage to our environment. This will require dramatic changes like we’ve never seen before. With the U.S. rolling back a variety of Obama-era changes, it seems that meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement are becoming more ambitious by the day.

Other than preparing ourselves by adopting greener lifestyles, and playing our part in protecting the environment every way we can, there may be some other ways we can prepare for these seemingly inevitable changes. Business insider recently sat down with scientists to ask where to live to avoid natural disasters brought upon us by climate change. Check out their 11 suggestions below.


Tulsa, Oklahoma

“Cities that are not currently in danger of flooding from sea level rise will be safe in the future, while places like Miami could see their flooding intensify, said Richard Alley, a climate science professor at Pennsylvania State University. Beyond that, Alley said, it’s difficult to predict what may happen.

One city he does regard as safe from sea level rise is Tulsa, Oklahoma. At worst, he said, the global sea level could increase by 4 to 5 meters in the next 100 years if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapses rapidly. Even in this scenario, Tulsa is likely to remain standing.”


Boulder, Colorado

“Two of the top criteria for avoiding sea level rise are high elevation and location in the middle of the country, said Camilo Mora, an associate professor who researches biodiversity at the University of Hawaii. In the event of a disaster, Mora said residents should look for places where they can live self-sufficiently, with their own agricultural system and body of water that doesn’t depend on melting ice.

While Mora didn’t identify a city that meets each of these criteria, Boulder, Colorado seems to fit the bill. In addition to being seated far away from the coast, Boulder has an altitude of more than 5,300 feet, making it less vulnerable to a rise in sea level.”

San Diego, California

“San Diego may be exposed to rising sea levels, but its coastal location gives it a host of advantages. According to research from Sarah Kapnick, a climate scientist at Princeton University, San Diego may have the most ideal weather of any US city.

After studying the number of “mild weather” days — those suited for outdoor activities, with low precipitation, low humidity, and temperatures between 64 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit — Kapnick found that US summers are becoming hotter and more humid. By the end of the century, she discovered, cities in West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico could lose weeks of mild weather due to climate change.

This wasn’t the case in San Diego, which currently boasts 180 days of mild weather per year compared to 157 in Los Angeles, 83 in New York, and just 76 in Boston. In the future, the city could see even more pristine weather conditions.”


Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota

“Minneapolis may be known for its harsh winters, but it’s not likely to get much colder than it is now, said David Robinson, the New Jersey State Climatologist and a professor at Rutgers University.

According to Robinson, Minneapolis could be ideal for those looking to avoid the harshest effects of climate change.”


Sacramento, California

“California’s sea level rise is less of a concern as you move up the north coast, said Michael Anderson, the state climatologist at California’s Department of Water Resources. That’s good news for Sacramento, a city less than two hours outside San Francisco that’s developing strategies to prepare for the effects of climate change.

According to Vivek Shandas, an urban-planning professor at Portland State University, Sacramento ranks among the cities that are least vulnerable to climate-induced disasters.”


Charlotte, North Carolina

“While North Carolina has witnessed its fair share of hurricanes, Louisiana state climatologist Barry Keim singles out Charlotte as the least vulnerable city when it comes to the overall effects of climate change.

That’s because the area is far enough inland to avoid the worst of the Atlantic hurricane season, which could get worse with climate change. The city’s climate is also mild, with a mean annual temperature of around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. While most cities are getting hotter as a result of climate change, Charlotte has actually begun to cool down over time”.


Portland, Oregon

“For those unwilling to give up on a coastal property, Portland may be the ideal locale. Compared to other coastal states, Oregon has less property risk and less physical area exposed to sea level rise, said Kristy Dahl, a climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

It’s also less vulnerable to hurricanes compared to cities along the eastern and gulf coasts, said Astrid Caldas, a senior climate scientist at UCS.”


Pittsburg, Pennsylvania

“‘It’s somewhat ironic that the Midwest … has seen a reduction in population in recent decades,” said John Nielsen-Gammon, the Texas state climatologist and a professor at Texas A&M University. “Not only will the Midwest avoid many of the bad effects of climate change, it will experience most of the good effects: less extreme cold and a longer growing season.’

One city that benefits from these conditions is Pittsburgh, a place Nielsen-Gammon describes as “safe from hurricanes” and unlikely to experience increased drought. Earlier this year, the Pittsburgh City Council approved an ambitious new climate plan, which imitates Portland’s goal to reduce carbon emissions.”

Anywhere but Hawaii

“It’s nearly impossible to predict which cities are immune to a hurricane or tropical cyclone, said Hiro Murakami, an associate research scholar at Princeton who studies these phenomena. That’s why he cautions against making any recommendations for places to live — except to warn people about moving to the Hawaiian Islands.

In a 2013 study, Murakami predicted that Hawaii’s tropical storm frequency would double by the next century. Hawaii’s latest summer storm resulted in at least one death.”