Student’s Corner

What is a climate haven?

A climate haven is a location that is predicted to avoid the worst effects of climate change, such as increased extreme weather events like hurricanes and extreme heat and drought that can also lead to forest fires. 

In the United States we’ve seen states such as California and Colorado recently suffer from devastating forest fires driven in part by droughts and high temperatures. Southern states such as Texas and Louisiana are often hit by hurricanes, most notably in recent history Hurricane Harvey and a little further back with Hurricane Katrina. These natural disasters left death and destruction in their wake, with climate change expected to increase their occurrence and severity.

Where are climate havens?

In the United States, the Great Lakes region is most often cited as a future climate haven, featuring cities such as Duluth, Ann Arbor, Milwaukee, Detroit, Buffalo, and Rochester. In fact, in 2019 the mayor of Buffalo declared that the city would become a “climate refuge.” 

Climate havens are not just about location; there is no true escape from climate change and natural disasters. The cities should be working to manage the effects of climate change effectively, have fresh water, affordable housing, and infrastructure to support an influx of new residents.

Climate and the effects of climate change are often cited as a reason for moving to Rochester as seen on r/Rochester on Reddit and in this WXXI article. The City of Rochester has a Climate Action Plan although it is unclear how much progress has been made. There are also many active environmental groups in the area such as the Rochester Citizens’ Climate Lobby chapter, the Climate Solutions Accelerator, NY Renews, and many more. 

While moving to a climate haven is a great plan for those who can afford to do it, we still need to think about those who are unable to leave their homes and will be at high risk for suffering from climate change influenced disasters. Local, state, and national governments across the world need to be prepared to help their residents adapt and survive with the threats brought by climate change. The climate spending in the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States is a good step forward but there is still work to be done. 

Written by Sarah Woodams ‘24(T5)

Image by Sarah Woodams of the Rochester skyline