BUFFALO, N.Y. (Buffalo Rising) | There is a longstanding joke that Buffalo will ultimately be one of the most desirable cities to live, in light of climate change. Of course it’s a very scary joke, which is now beginning to fulfill some sort of bizarre prophecy. As the world begins to realize the consequences of climate change, Buffalo truly is being considered one of the cities of the future, due to its prime geographical climate.
With an abundance of fresh water, outlying farmland, protection from rising ocean levels, the absence of other natural disasters including wildfires, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc., more people are beginning to look to Buffalo as a safe haven and a prime investment. Not to mention other factors such as relative lack of smog, quality of family life, abundance of wide open park spaces… and as Medium Magazine puts it, “No floods, famine, or war. And the people are nice.”
Medium has published an article in its Environment section (Future Human) that casts an ominous environmental outlook for many places around the world in the not-too-distant future. Author Justin Nobel goes on to list Buffalo as one of the 5 Best Places to Live in 2100. If that is a valid prediction, don’t think that people are going to simply pick up their bags and move in 82 years, there are already people who are eying cities like Buffalo as places to live, relatively free from the havoc that climate change has begun to unleash. Nobel lumps Buffalo in with any and all of the cities found along the Great Lakes.
The biggest problem for Buffalonians would be the drastic change in an effortless lifestyle that residents cherish. Nobel predicts that climate refugees will seek solace here, which could mean that the population would begin to grow in a rapid manner (yes, the joke just gets funnier and funnier).
Buffalo, says Jesse Keenan, a faculty member of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Keenan has studied the impact of climate change on cities around the world, notably Copenhagen, Hong Kong, and Miami. He coined the term ‘climate gentrification,’ based on his research showing that costs associated with climate change — such as rising home prices on higher elevations in coastal areas — are beginning to drive people from their longtime neighborhoods and homes. He says he’s often asked by international investors where he would move in the future, and Buffalo is his regular answer.
Unfortunately, the saddest part about all of this is that so many people are not taking climate change seriously.
“Research shows the deadline to limit warming to 1.5°C has already passed, unless radical climate action is taken.” – European Geosciences Union
Certain cities in the US are starting to wake up and take action, and European Parliament recently approved a ban on some single-use plastics, but it’s nowhere near enough. There must be widespread drastic change when it comes to green energy, plastics, and transportation advancements… and even the cities surrounding the Great Lakes must get their acts together when it comes to algal blooms, which are caused by:
Heavy rain events wash soil and fertilizer containing excess phosphorus and nitrogen into rivers and streams that flow into lakes. Additional nutrient sources include sewage treatment plants, combined sewer overflows, water treatment plants, cleaning products, faulty septic tanks, and residential lawn fertilizers. – NOAA
It’s all part of the big picture. Each city, each state, each country, must enact immediate changes when it comes to enforcing the use of green packaging materials and product containers. The fact is, that people will never take this seriously. We’re still fighting for gas prices to drop, but we’re not fighting for green transportation. Our supermarket shelves are filled, aisle after aisle, with plastic containers. We’re still deforesting the planet at an alarming pace. Our oceans are filled with plastic, and plastic particles are now found in the fish we ingest. Heck, we’re still mining coal. But for some reason, nobody is panicking unless they are directly affected by a natural disaster. And even in those cases, the knee jerk plan of action is to rebuild and hope for the best.
There will come a day, however, when populations affected by natural disasters will say enough is enough, before they begin to look for higher ground and fresh water. It’s only a matter of time… and that time is not too far away according to a number of researchers.