Giles Slade discusses his book American Exodus – Climate Change and the Coming Flight for Survival.
Some scientists predict the sea will rise one and a half metres before 2100, but rapidly melting polar ice caps could make the real increase much higher. In the coming century, intensifying storms will batter our coasts, and droughts and extreme heat events will be annual threats. All this will occur as population grows, and declining water resources make growing food ever more challenging. What will happen when the United States cannot provide food or fresh water for the overheated, overcrowded cities where 80 per cent of Americans currently live? The good news is that this overall decline of habitability in the mid-latitudes will be matched by increases in the carrying capacity of sparsely populated lands above the 49th parallel. This phenomenon suggests that waves of environmental refugees will travel north as southern conditions worsen. Our northern lands are our Noah’s Ark – a vital refuge in the time of mankind’s greatest need.
American Exodus argues that we are entering a long period of global turmoil which will be characterized by human migration on an unprecedented scale. It is a frighteningly believable survey of our immediate future, but it ends on a note of hope: we may yet survive the coming century of climatic change if we act now to safeguard our shelter of last resort.
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