A list of the most climate change-adaptive cities in North America
Although it is almost impossible for any city to escape the results of climate change in the next 25 years, some of them will be better positioned to avoid the extreme weather conditions that others will face. According to Dr. Benjamin Strauss, researcher on climate impacts at an independent nonprofit research collaboration of scientists and journalists called Climate Central, those are the cities where people could settle in the next two decades if they are aiming to avoid such threats. “Cities are certainly all going to be livable over the next 25 years, but they’ll be increasingly feeling the heat,” he said, adding that political action could help cities mitigate the effects of climate change.
Some cities, even if not mentioned below, will be reasonably adaptive to the effects of climate change, so focus on the city qualities described rather than the specific locations.
There certainly are some coastal cities which are better positioned to weather rising seas, thus not suffering the effects of climate change at a great extent. Portland is one of them as it is well situated in the north and has a hilly topography, so for the next few centuries it is not going to have significant sea-level rise.
- A Midwestern trifecta: Detroit, Chicago and Madison, Wis.
The cities near the Great Lakes are also considered a reasonable option. “That region is probably one of the safest from a climate perspective,” Dr. Strauss said. “The Northeast and Midwest are going to have plenty of water -the Great Lakes are very much an advantage as a water supply, and they’re not going to be subject to coastal flood issues,” he said. He also suggested that Midwestern cities should invest more in air-conditioning, even though they will not face the dangerous heat that we’ll be seeing in the southwest and the southeast. However, the region will probably experience more extreme rainfall than others (there had been a nearly 45% increase in heavy precipitation events in the Midwest since the 1950s), and especially the city of Chicago runs the risk of flooding.
- San Francisco
San Francisco and other cities along the northwest coast are unlikely to face extreme heat conditions and problems related to sea level rise.
- Boise, Idaho
Boise seems a safer city than some others of the West Coast, but attention should be given to the wildfires in the region which could affect the city’s air quality. According to Dr. Strauss, the city has a lower drought and heat risk in comparison to Denver and other Southwestern cities like Tucson and Phoenix.
- New York City
New York City is included in the list, as it is serious about evaluating the risks of climate change and has been more progressive than many other places on this issue. “New York City has some landscape advantages and landscape challenges. But it also has a lot of resources and is beginning to invest in preparing for higher seas. It has a long way to go, but it recognizes that and is beginning the journey”, Dr. Strauss said.
- State College, Pa.
State College, which is home to Pennsylvania State University, seems to be climate resistant. The city’s average temperatures in the summertime are not very high (only a few days are above 90°), and the winter is mild compared to New York State and New England.
Toronto also made the list as it is believed that the city’s developed infrastructure, financial system and public services are not likely to be affected by rising sea levels or water shortages.
Source: New York Times