Look Out For A Global Warming Land Rush

Oregonians have been known to complain when people move here from out of state, most particularly when they come from California. Remember that Tom McCall quote?

But the real question is, are we ready if Oregon — already desirable for our natural beauty and relatively reasonable housing prices — becomes a haven for climate change refugees?

Not sure what this means? Here’s how The Oregonian sums it up:

“What if the American Southwest dries up, browns out, and those people now misting their patios in Arizona head to the still-green Pacific Northwest? What if Californians hit the road north in numbers far surpassing the 20,000 who now move to Oregon each year? What if the polar ice melts, oceans rise and millions living along coastal areas — or ravaged by Katrina-like storms — have to move?”

A United Nations group and other researchers estimate there are now 20 million to 25 million “environmental refugees” — people displaced by drought, storms and floods. Here’s a quick look at some of the problems the rest of the country has to deal with:

California and Southwest: More frequent and more intense wildfires, extended droughts, shortened snowpack season and hard competition for water, declining air quality with increased health challenges.
Great Plains: More extreme weather events bring more droughts and floods.
Northeast: Rising sea level menaces coastal urban infrastructure, especially transportation systems. Extreme rainstorms raise concern about hurricanes, in greater intensity and frequency.
Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic coasts: Rising sea level and increased storm surges stall coastal development and threaten estuaries and ecosystems.
Gulf Coast: More frequent high-intensity hurricanes, inundation of coastal wetlands, saltwater intrusion from rising sea level creates “ghost forests.”

Source: U.S. Global Change Research Program

So what does this mean for us? More disasters = more refugees = more Oregonians = more help needed from the Red Cross. Not to mention our local volunteers responding all over the country as other communities are affected. And if you’ve forgotten the Red Cross position on global climate change, you can read it here.

Take the time to read the article yourself. I think you’ll find it fascinating.

Illustration by Eric Baker/The Oregonian