By the end of this century, 13 million Americans could be forced to migrate due to sea level rise alone. As a result, hundreds of thousands of homes are projected to be chronically flooded within a few decades, with coastlines being redrawn or altogether missing. Americans will also be forced to migrate due to extreme weather events such as wildfires, drought, or water scarcity.
The residents of Isle de Jean Charles, off the coast of Louisiana, are considered to be the first American climate refugees. The island has already lost about 98% of its land and some estimates see it fully submerged within 5 to 25 years. In 2016, they received a $48 million federal grant to relocate the community, and the short film “Lowland Kids” documents the experience of the last remaining teenagers living on the Isle.
Towns all across the U.S. are affected: in Florida alone 6 million will need to move inland by 2100; in Alaska, about a dozen coastal towns are looking to relocate; and states including Louisiana, California, New York and New Jersey will also have to grapple with hordes of residents seeking dry ground. By the end of this century, 86% of areas with an urban center of 10,000 plus people are projected to be affected in some way by net migration caused by sea-level rise.
Some well-positioned cities that face a minimum risk of wildfires and coastal storms are looking to brand themselves as something of a “climate haven.” Duluth, MN, Buffalo, NY, and Cincinnati, OH are hoping to be viewed as climate relocation destinations. Generally speaking, the north and maybe parts of the west are seen as more habitable and less affected by climate change.
Because this CCR site is so US centric, this focus doesn’t embrace the larger human migration issues. There is a good discussion here which also embraces the fact of our global interconnections.