How many Americans will put up with radically different and damaging weather? How many will pick up and move to what they hope will be safer and more habitable locations?
Lost in all the scientific predictions of major impacts of climate change is the potential of massive relocations based on individual decisions to abandon specific locations that are vulnerable to impacts like flooding and other weather-caused damage. You won't find northern New Jersey near the top of the list of climate change-affected locations, but wherever you find hundred-year floods occuring more than twice in a decade you're likely to find flood victims throwing in the towel and moving out.
The current nor'easter that has settled over most of the northeast U.S. has dumped record amounts of wind-driven rain on New Jersey, prompting one resident to state his frustrations to a CNN reporter:
The Raritan River was more than 10 feet above flood stage in Bound Brook late Monday and was not expected to return to below flood stage before Tuesday afternoon.
The river overran Route 18 in New Brunswick, forcing Rutgers University to cancel Tuesday classes at its New Brunswick and Piscataway campuses.
Dale Johnson said he and his girlfriend fled their second-story apartment through swirling, waist-deep water. They sought shelter at the Presbyterian Church of Bound Brook, where more than 100 cots were set up.
"I want to move out. I can't take it after this one," said Johnson, 48, noting that it was his third evacuation. The community also was hard hit by Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
And in an article by San Francisco Chronicle environmental writer Jane Kay, the prospects of unhealthy weather changes are considered. If your local weather becomes a constant threat to your health, will you try to adapt to it or will you move to a healthier climate? Will only those who can afford to adapt stay? Or will the adapters consist only of those too poor to relocate?
Higher temperatures over the coming decades are expected to cause more smoggy days and heat waves, contributing to a greater number of illnesses and deaths in the United States, according to international climate scientists.
Severe heat waves -- characterized by stagnant masses of warm air and consecutive nights with high minimum temperatures -- will intensify in the United States and Canada, according to the data on North America released Monday by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Southern California, the Southwest and the upper Midwest are already experiencing drought. Late in the century, in Los Angeles, the number of heat wave days is projected to increase from 12 days a year to between 44 and 95 days, the report said. The number of heat wave days in Chicago is expected to increase by 25 percent.