Thursday, September 25, 2014

Oregon is a Lousy Place to Hide from Climate Change

Dick Sherk next to "Welcome to Oregon" sign (1961)
Tom Mccall's sign. The next governor, Vic Atiyah (R),
considered it anti-business and had it changed
to simply "Welcome to Oregon"
Tom McCall, who was Oregon's governor from 1967 to 1975 (he was an ardent environmentalist who had some big balls on him), spoke about Oregon’s tourist industry in a 1971 speech, that is famous for this line on his slogan "Come visit, don't stay""
“I urge them to come and come many, many times to enjoy the beauty of Oregon. But I also ask them, for heaven’s sake, don’t move here to live.”
McCall probably wasn't thinking about climate change, but some people are now, and it doesn't look good for Oregon, says the NY Times:
Although few people today are moving long distances to strategize for climate change, some are at least pondering the question of where they would go.

“The answer is the Pacific Northwest, and probably especially west of the Cascades,” said Ben Strauss, vice president for climate impacts and director of the program on sea level rise at Climate Central, a research collaboration of scientists and journalists. “Actually, the strip of coastal land running from Canada down to the Bay Area is probably the best,” he added. “You see a lot less extreme heat; it’s the one place in the West where there’s no real expectation of major water stress, and while sea level will rise there as everywhere, the land rises steeply out of the ocean, so it’s a relatively small factor.”
Clifford E. Mass, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Washington, writes a popular weather blog in which he predicts that the Pacific Northwest will be “a potential climate refuge” as global warming progresses. A Seattle resident, he foresees that “climate change migrants” will start heading to his city and to Portland, Ore., and surrounding areas.

“The Pacific Ocean is like our natural air conditioning,” Professor Mass said in a telephone interview. “We don’t get humidity like the East Coast does.”

As for the water supply? “Water is important, and we will have it,” Professor Mass declared. “All in all, it’s a pretty benign situation for us — in fact, warming up just a little bit might be a little bit welcome around here.”

Already, he said, Washington State is gearing up to become the next Napa Valley as California’s wine country heats up and dries out.

“People are going crazy putting in vineyards in eastern Washington right now,” he said.
Last year, Oregon was already at the top of the list for inbound moves.

It's an interesting article with thoughts on the reprecussions of climate change for many areas of the US: Anchorage, Detroit, Florida, D.C., the Southwest, etc. But this might be over the top:
 “Alaska is going to be the next Florida by the end of the century.”
according to Camilo Mora, a geography professor at the University of Hawaii. (He was the lead author on this Nature paper from last year.) Anchorage's annual mean temperature is 2°C, while Miami's is 24°C. So even with Arctic amplification, that's a big jump. (Though if the ocean is lapping at your Miami condo, Anchorage would probably look pretty good.)

Like everyone else, I prefer the door be slammed on a place, right after I move there. And besides, the traffic is getting ever worse in Portland, we just started our cloudy season that will last until next June, and we're overdue for a huge earthquake. This place isn't utopia, and, please, let's keep it that way, OK?


Unknown said...

It is worth reading the comment on that Mora paper. TL;DR, the paper is overconfident about the timing of departure from natural variability.

Chris_Winter said...

If James Howard Kunstler (The Long Emergency and Too Much Magic is to be believed, upstate New York is the place to be — with New England a close second.

David Appell said...

Chris: I've read several of JHK's books, and once thought he might have been on to something. But his refusal to acknowledge that Peak Oil isn't arriving soon made me rethink.... it kinda seems he's just waiting around because his predictions must come true SOMEDAY...