Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Want to Escape Global Warming? These Cities Promise Cool Relief
By Kendra Pierre-Louis
April 15, 2019
DULUTH, Minn. — As the West burns, the South swelters and the East floods, some Americans are starting to reconsider where they choose to live.
For advice, a few of them are turning to Jesse Keenan, a lecturer at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. At least once a day, Dr. Keenan, who studies urban development and climate adaptation, gets an email from someone asking where to move to be safe from climate change. The messages come from people who are thinking about moving not because they have already been hit by catastrophe, but because they see the writing on the wall.
So, what does Dr. Keenan suggest to these advance planners? Maybe climate-proof Duluth.
That’s a slogan that he created as part of an economic development and marketing package commissioned by the University of Minnesota Duluth. Some community leaders think they can spur growth by bringing in more people, and they sense an opportunity in climate change. And Duluth isn’t the only urban area that has climate migration on their radar. In a February speech, the mayor of Buffalo, Byron W. Brown, declared his city a “climate refuge.”
Dr. Keenan emphasized one day in mid-March as we stood on the ice of Lake Superior that the Duluth slogan was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. The science behind it, though, is no joke.Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/15/climate/climate-migration-duluth.html
Before you all pack your bags and move to Duluth or Buffalo, Dr. James Hansen, whose 1988 testimony pretty much kick started the climate movement, thinks ice melt could trigger a multi-decadal period of extreme cold (see the graph at the top of the page).
… Global temperature becomes an unreliable diagnostic of planetary condition as the ice melt rate increases. Global energy imbalance (Fig. 15b) is a more meaningful measure of planetary status as well as an estimate of the climate forcing change required to stabilize climate. Our calculated present energy imbalance of ∼ 0.8 W m−2 (Fig. 15b) is larger than the observed 0.58 ± 0.15 W m−2 during 2005–2010 (Hansen et al., 2011). The discrepancy is likely accounted for by excessive ocean heat uptake at low latitudes in our model, a problem related to the model’s slow surface response time (Fig. 4) that may be caused by excessive small-scale ocean mixing.
Large scale regional cooling occurs in the North Atlantic and Southern oceans by mid-century (Fig. 16) for 10-year doubling of freshwater injection. A 20-year doubling places similar cooling near the end of this century, 40 years ear- lier than in our prior simulations (Fig. 7), as the factor of 4 increase in current freshwater from Antarctica is a 40-year advance.
Cumulative North Atlantic freshwater forcing in sverdrup years (Sv years) is 0.2 Sv years in 2014, 2.4 Sv years in 2050, and 3.4Sv years (its maximum) prior to 2060 (Fig. S14). The critical issue is whether human-spurred ice sheet mass loss can be approximated as an exponential process during the next few decades. Such nonlinear behavior depends upon amplifying feedbacks, which, indeed, our climate simulations reveal in the Southern Ocean. …Read more: http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/16/3761/2016/acp-16-3761-2016.pdf
So what dedicated climate survivalists really need to do is buy their house in Duluth or Boulder, but also take an option on a well elevated property on a warm Caribbean island, in case James Hansen is right about the decades of extreme cold.
Correction (EW): Jesse Keenan is a lecturer at Harvard, not University of Minnesota (h/t Michael Jankowski).