As the climate warms, more people are expected to move away from regions increasingly threatened by wildfires, floods, and droughts.
“Even if they haven’t been hit by one of these hazards yet directly, [they’re] starting to factor that hazard into their personal calculations around where they move,” says Fern Hickey of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
She says some people may look for places that are less vulnerable to especially severe climate impacts.
And that could be an opportunity for some postindustrial inland cities that have long struggled with economic decline.
While a master’s student in city and regional planning, she interviewed local officials and planners in Buffalo, New York, and Cincinnati, Ohio.
She says some are excited to promote their cities as potential destinations for climate migrants.
“Both of these are communities that are interested in growth, interested in attracting new residents and new businesses,” Hickey says.
But she says the people she talked to are also worried that their cities are not yet prepared — for example, to provide enough quality affordable housing and jobs.
So she says if cities want to become climate havens in the future, they need to start planning now.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media