Those of us who live here know that the Twin Cities are one of the best kept secrets in the nation. Well, now that natural disasters around the world are suddenly making climate change seem like a more tangible reality, that secret is leaking out. Grist, the environmental advocacy web site, today named the top five cities most likely to adapt to climate change. And yes, Minneapolis is one of them.
Minneapolis skyline. Star Tribune photo.
The writer is Jeff Opperman, The Nature Conservancy's guru on sustainable hydorpower. Here's a separate post on how he came up with his rankings. In part, he used city data from the sustainability web site Sustainlane.Opperman says:
"Cities' biggest concerns from climate change include disruptions to water supplies, increased risk of natural disasters (e.g., floods and hurricanes), and the heat itself: In addition to causing general discomfort, heat is already the biggest weather-related source of mortality."
His top five cities in order of adaptability are these: Cleveland, Milwaukee, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis. You'll note, as he does, that three off them are rust belt cities with either flat or declining economies. On the other hand...
"They have a sustainable water supply (in four of the cities, the Great Lakes); their heat stress rankings are relatively low; and they are less vulnerable to natural disasters that will be exacerbated by climate change, such as floods, landslides, and wildfires."
The five most vulnerable cities, he says, are Phoenix, Houston, Sacramento, Las Vegas, and Miami. Those cities are growing rapidly. In short, people in the United States are moving away from places that are better-equipped to deal with climate change.
Minneapolis and the other top ranking cities on his list would be smart to invest now in economies that are primed to support the return of the population growth, he says.
"These cities should still pursue the investments required to prevent climate change. Those investments could provide an important spark for economic revitalization."