Rod Dreher

Thought-provoking piece on Slate today about a NOAA report forecasting what’s facing the weather agency between now and 2035. Slate writer Jim Tankersley takes the data and foresees climate-driven social and political change coming down the road. Excerpt:

Mass migrations have historically triggered power shifts in American politics–to the West in the late 1800s, to the Sun Belt in the 1970s, and today to the booming Southwest. Forecasters say climate change could have similar effects. In two of the three climate scenarios NOAA outlines for 2035, the decades-long trend of Americans moving to the Southeast and to both coasts ebbs, due largely to hotter summers, rising waters, and increased hurricane activity. In the more extreme of the two–what is essentially the “no mitigation” scenario, which is to say, the federal government makes little effort to curb carbon emissions–Northern state populations swell 20 percent by 2035, while California and Florida each lose millions of people. Other analysts expect urban populations to expand, due to an influx of both immigrants fleeing foreign countries ravaged by climate change and former suburb-dwellers who find many of their signature comforts imperiled. (Playing catch in the yard is less appealing if there’s no water for the grass.)


Many analysts expect climate change to elevate regional tensions over partisan matters–and unleash a new wave of national wedge issues in the process. Chief among them: water. Vast swaths of the country may come to know the down-to-the-last-drop battles between farmers, subdivision developers, and environmentalists that states such as Colorado have long witnessed. Due to more frequent droughts and declining snowpacks, “[y]ou’re going to have an increasingly limited resource and increased demand from cities such as Los Angeles and Las Vegas” for water typically used by Rocky Mountain ranchers, said Rick Ridder, a veteran Democratic consultant in Denver. “This is going to pit urban America versus rural America.”

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