Someone will draw the short straw on climate change

Thursday October 15, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, economist Matthew Kahn wrote about microlevel changes happening in New Jersey post-Sandy and how they anticipate a broader response to climate change. In general, Kahn writes:

This is how we will adapt to climate change. Those areas that are silly enough to not make these investments will experience an out-migration of jobs and falling real estate prices. This is the Climatopolis logic.

The problem is Kahn is only partially correct. As I wrote last summer,

Wealthier communities generally tend to stay that way. Looking backwards, this means they also have been for some time. If someone had means, they would have moved to where it was safe early and built those communities there. Those without means were stuck with less desirable land, including land at greater environmental risk. Along the coast, this means flooding.

In the context of global climate change, we can expect the same. Those who can afford it will participate in out-migration. Those who cannot will experience the increased risk and reduced economic opportunity that comes with it. Wikipedia, as always, has an excellent catalog of the expected effects.

Image by ItzaFineDay / Flickr.