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In Pursuit of the Climate-Proof City

As extreme weather events drive more people from their homes, the idea of moving to “safe” places—even before disaster strikes—has assumed particular urgency.

Illustration by Michael Hirshon

In ways large and small, the changing climate affects how we live and, for a growing number of people, where we live. Many have already relocated because conditions have become too dangerous back home, whether due to sea level rise, wildfires, or drought. Others are moving preemptively, aiming to settle in a region with less perceived climate risk. On episode 65 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene talk to journalists Debra Kamin and Jake Bittle about the effect that small-scale climate migration is having on one “climate-proof” city—and the potential ramifications of widespread population relocation in the future.

Laura Marsh: In 2019, professor Jesse Keenan produced a branding package for the small city on Lake Superior. His proposals included taglines like “Duluth, not as cold as you think.”

Alex Pareene: For anyone familiar with the town, the idea of Duluth as a place to escape to rather than from is a bit surreal. Bob Dylan spent his earliest years there. Here’s what he remembers about his hometown: “The violent storms that always seemed to be coming straight at you and merciless howling winds off the big black mysterious lake with treacherous ten-foot waves.”

Laura: But people across the country and the world are already leaving their homes because of climate change. In the coming years, their numbers will increase. The only question is where they will go.

Alex: Today on the show, we’re talking about what it means to call a place “climate-proof,” and whether those places are ready for all that label entails.

Laura: Are these cities prepared to welcome new neighbors? Some displaced by disasters and others seeking to avoid them altogether. I’m Laura Marsh.

Alex: I’m Alex Pareene.

Laura: This is The Politics of Everything.

Alex: In January, New York Times reporter Debra Kamin traveled to Duluth, Minnesota. She wanted to report on people who’ve moved there to escape the effects of climate change. Duluth’s population has been just under 90,000 for decades, but in the last five years, nearly 2,500 people have moved to the former industrial town from all over the country. Almost all of these new arrivals say they have migrated there in part because of concerns about natural disasters and rising temperatures. One person Debra talked to said she moved her family to Duluth “with a Pollyannaish idea that we were moving to safety.” Debra, thanks for joining us today.

Debra Kamin: Thanks so much. It’s great to be here.

Alex: So tell us about some of the new arrivals that you met in Duluth. What sort of places were they coming from, and why did they end up there?

Debra: The new arrivals are super diverse. They’re coming from places like California, New Mexico, Colorado, anywhere that has really been facing more extreme versions of climate change over the past few years. We’re talking about wildfires or extreme heat. People from there are coming to Duluth to start their lives over in a place that they feel is going to be a little bit “safer” as the world gets hotter and weather gets more wacky.

Laura: If they’re looking at the map of the United States, what makes their finger land on Duluth?

Debra: I don’t think anyone’s finger naturally lands on Duluth. I think you’d have to put your finger on the map. I couldn’t have found Duluth on a map when I started writing this story, but Duluth has had a lot of attention because there is a man named Jesse Keenan. He is a professor at Tulane. He used to be at Harvard, and four years ago, he created a list of these “climate-proof cities” based on a bunch of calculations that we can talk about, and Duluth was at the top of his list. He even dubbed it “climate-proof Duluth,” which is very catchy. Because of that, it got on people’s radar.

Alex: Growing up in Minnesota quite a bit south of Duluth, I generally knew it as a place people escaped from, winters especially.

Laura: I think I could have told you one fact about Duluth precisely, which would be that Bob Dylan’s from there—

Alex: Exactly.

Laura: But that’s not related to climate. What is it about Duluth’s climate, or its natural features, that makes it so good?

Debra: Duluth sits on Lake Superior, which is actually not a lake, it’s an inland sea, and it’s freshwater. First and foremost, as we worry about drought and rising heat, Duluth has a really safe, secure source of freshwater that’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Then when we think about coastal cities and sea level rise, Duluth is located up high, buffeted from sea level change. So you don’t have to worry about the water levels rising and eroding any parts of the town that sit on the water, the way that other cities that are coastal really do have to worry about now. And then it’s a really cold place, and really cold places, as the world gets hotter, are going to be more comfortable moving forward. Those three things make it more “climate-proof.” It also doesn’t have a ton of people because like you said, Alex, it’s been a place to escape from. It has land that people can come to and settle in without the major risk of overcrowding.

Alex: This is a conversation that sometimes feels tongue-in-cheek, but maybe is a little bit more serious than we actually think. I feel like I’ve had it, with friends, over the last few years, about where we are going to escape to basically. What are some of the other places on that list?

Debra: Buffalo is a really popular one, which is also the type of city that doesn’t really come to mind when you think of fun, exotic places you may want to spend the rest of your life in. And Buffalo, unlike Duluth, has really leaned into this label, and they’ve marketed themselves as a climate-proof destination and really tried to attract new residents based on it. Duluth has done the opposite. They’re uncomfortable with this new title that they have, and when I was there reporting, the impression that I got is they’re still trying to figure out how to manage this spotlight that’s been thrust upon them. In general, the Midwest as a whole—and I say this, Alex, you clearly get it, as someone from Minnesota and me as someone who grew up in Ohio—the Midwest is cool, no pun intended, as we look at climate change, because it’s a place where the effects are going to be less extreme.

Laura: You cover a lot of real estate on your beat. What are the challenges for a city like Duluth if it were to face an influx in terms of housing?

Debra: There are major challenges, and they tend to do with space as well as with the market itself. Obviously, real estate prices operate on the concept of supply and demand. When you have an influx of people coming in, the demand is going to go up, but the supply, unless we start building, is going to remain constant. In addition to that, where most of these people are coming from are places where homes are more valuable. A home in California is worth a lot more than a home in Duluth, Minnesota. If you sell your home for a million dollars and you come in and you’re competing in a real estate market with people who didn’t sell their homes for a million dollars—they may have sold them for $300,000—you’re going to have a market that is suddenly flooded with cash, which makes it really difficult for people who’ve been living there and saving up for houses for years.

Alex: Some of those people arriving there, they might still be, I would imagine, earning their California paychecks, right? In the sort of remote work world.

Debra: That’s another very important point. One of the reasons that Duluth is seeing so many new residents is because it used to be that you couldn’t move from the town you were in because you couldn’t leave your job or you didn’t want to choose from the jobs that were available in a smaller city if your industry wasn’t popular there. That’s much less of a problem now. A lot of people can work from anywhere. You have people earning more, coming in with more cash and completely upending a market where all the factors that used to exist based on the local economy are irrelevant.

Alex: You talked to the mayor who was one of the people who seemed ambivalent about this labeling of Duluth as climate proof. What are some of the reasons behind that ambivalence?

Debra: She said something that I really loved during our interview. She said that we need to put on our own oxygen mask first before we put on everyone else’s oxygen mask. What she meant by that is it’s not that Duluth isn’t happy to welcome these new residents. For the most part, they genuinely are. The people in Duluth are super friendly; it’s a warm, welcoming city. But they have problems just like any other city and some specific problems that are based on their own history. They were losing population for decades, and they have infrastructure that needs to be repaired. She wants to focus on taking care of the people who already live in Duluth, building up their housing stock, building up their economy, dealing with some initiative she has related actually to green energy and climate readiness before they start upending their own priorities to welcome the new people coming in.

Alex: You mentioned Buffalo, as a city, embracing the label and Duluth, it’s obviously not the industrial powerhouse that it was in decades past, but it doesn’t have that same rust belt decline atmosphere like Buffalo, I would imagine, almost desperate for new residents.

Debra: I think the housing stock in Duluth has not grown in a long time, and a lot of it has to do with the way that people are living now. It used to be that you had larger families sharing homes. And more people are living alone longer or older people are hanging onto their homes longer, which is a trend we see nationwide. You don’t see boomers selling for a number of reasons. The basic number of homes that are available to people in Duluth, whether they’re new residents or they live there for a long time, is very small. I think one or two percent of the availability in the market is new properties. They’re not anxious for new residents because there’s nowhere to put them right now. They’re going to have to build and invest in infrastructure before they open those doors if they don’t want to have a real squeeze on an already tight market.

Alex: We’re doing this episode because it’s a fun idea. It’s both fun and deadly serious and terrifying. But it’s fun to imagine people going to Duluth as a post–climate change paradise, but in terms of real numbers here, this is small compared to some of the faster-growing parts of the country.

Debra: Alex, it’s so small that I couldn’t figure out what the numbers were for the longest time when I was reporting this story. I’ll walk you through it. I was hearing from all these people that Duluth is the place. It’s this crazy dystopian idea that climate change has gotten so severe that people are picking up their families and moving to what can amount to them as the middle of nowhere. So I went there. The realtors that I spoke to said that 25 to 30 percent of the people they’re selling homes to now are coming from out of state. I talked to dozens of people who’ve moved there, and then I was looking at the census numbers and they were tiny. The population of Duluth in the past 10 years has shifted by just a couple hundred. And I was thinking, “Where are all these people?” I couldn’t figure it out. Then I had to break it down even further and only when I looked at the number of new residents from out of state, did I understand that there had been die-off or people leaving town that had lowered the numbers. So it’s still not a huge number, but 2,500 is more than a couple hundred. But it’s so minute that it doesn’t even register on the census numbers until you really dig at them further to figure out where it’s coming from.

Alex: Knowing the demographics, I would imagine whatever new population is more than offset by the older Midwesterners retiring to Phoenix as they’ve been doing for decades and decades.

Debra: And we had a pandemic.

Alex: That’s right.

Debra: That also skewed the numbers. There’s been a lot more death over the past years than there used to be. Just to make it even more of a depressing conversation.

Alex: No, I know. A lot of wild tone shifts in this one.

Laura: It’s a rollercoaster. It does feel like this is a fairly small scale at the moment. Later in the show we’re going to be talking about a future in which very large numbers of people might need to move and that will presumably affect people who don’t have a lot of assets or don’t have a lot of choice in terms of where they live and their jobs. The kind of people that you saw moving to Duluth are not quite in that category, right?

Debra: Choosing to move right now because of climate change is a privilege. It’s people who have the privilege to be able to do so both financially based on the fact that they have education and jobs that are portable, based on the fact that they have support systems that they can either take with them or they don’t rely upon so they can move. If you’re a single mom and you rely on family nearby to watch your children, you can’t pick up and move across the country because you’re not going to have that. There is a lot of privilege inherent with the ability to move, and the people I spoke to who’ve done it are very aware of that as well. There’s also this concern that nobody wants to come into a place that they’re choosing to go to as a refuge and then be a gentrifier. Nobody wants to have that role, but it’s unavoidable if you’re coming in from an economy where your finances go a lot further. There’s a lot of complicated ethical and moral pieces to this.

Laura: You do cover real estate more broadly, and I’m wondering how much realtors, in Duluth but also generally, are factoring climate into sales now. Also how much banks and lenders are taking this seriously and beginning to drive some of these movements?

Debra: It’s starting. It’s not at the point that I personally think it should be based on the irrefutable evidence that we have that climate change is happening and it’s getting more extreme, but you are absolutely seeing it. For example, in California, you can now find that it’s impossible to get wildfire insurance in places where you used to be able to get it. And then you have stories like Kim Kardashian and other celebrities hiring their own firefighters during wildfires—because they simply have the resources to take care of the problem themselves—when you have homeowners who will either lose their homes or they’ll have to pick up and move to get out of an area of danger. You also have insights on Zillow or now—there’s flood risk ratings and other climate change ratings that appear on home listings, a new thing that didn’t exist until a few years ago. Whether or not buyers are aware of or are looking at it, I don’t know, because the fastest selling areas of the country are still the ones that are most at risk. It’s the coast, it’s the warm areas, also the places where home prices are the highest because people are either not aware of it or they don’t want to see it. But it’s there. The risk is there. It’s playing into the financial decisions that banks and lenders are making, but very slowly.

Alex: Now that’s really interesting. It certainly seems like continued growth in the Sunbelt, which seems unsustainable to me. But it has been continuing for a very long time.

Debra: It’s like fast fashion. We all know that we shouldn’t buy clothes that are made in sweatshops and will end up in landfills. We all know that it’s better to buy things that are made more sustainably and might cost more. But if you’re on Amazon and you see that shirt that’s $6.99 and you just want to wear it once, you’re probably going to buy it even though you know it’s not the right thing. It’s like that with a home too, because if you’re buying a home and you don’t intend to stay there for the next 50, 60 years, you understand from a philosophical perspective that this may not be the right thing, but also it’s your life and you want to enjoy it, and you want to live somewhere beautiful. And it’s a lot easier to not take those things to heart if you don’t feel affected by them immediately.

Alex: What time of year was it when you visited Duluth?

Debra: It was winter.

Alex: How was it?

Debra: So apparently I was there on a warm week. I was very cold and I was terrified of driving. It was super snowy and icy and I had not driven in the snow since I was a high schooler in Ohio. But I guess I actually had it easy considering because a few weeks later, it snowed so badly that most of my sources were stuck in their homes.

Alex: I was going to ask, of the people you talked to, how they enjoyed their first winters?

Debra: A lot of people really love it. If you’re an outdoorsy person and you’re really into snowshoeing and mountain biking and ice fishing, Duluth can be a great place. If you like that kind of thing. I personally do not like that kind of thing, and Duluth would not be the right place for me. My lead source, one of the guys that I spoke to, is from California and he now surfs on Lake Superior—

Alex: That’s wild.

Debra: —I also did not know this was a thing, but there’s waves on Lake Superior. They’re caused by the wind, which is different from waves in the ocean. There’s a surf community that goes out there in these heavy-duty wetsuits and they get icicles on their wetsuits and in their hair, and it’s crazy and they love it. So if you are into that and you’re into the thrill, Duluth can totally be a paradise for you. You just have to be the right kind of person.

Laura: On that note—

Alex: I was going to say, Laura, how does that sound to you?

Laura: That sounds like a very tough sell to me, but I can imagine my husband going all in on the ice surfing, so maybe it could be a climate refuge for us. Debra, thank you so much for talking.

Debra: My pleasure. It’s been so fun.

Alex: You can read Debra Kamin’s article “Out-of-Towners Head to ‘Climate-Proof Duluth’” at The New York Times.

Laura: We’ve been talking to people who, for the most part, have voluntarily relocated to avoid climate disasters, but what about people who have less of a choice?

Alex: After the break, author Jake Bittle joins us to discuss the future of climate change and the displacement it will bring.

Laura: The future of climate migration will likely be bigger than the couple of thousand people who have moved to Duluth. A recent Census Bureau survey found that in 2022, more than 3 million Americans were displaced from their homes because of natural disasters. More than a quarter of those people were either out of their homes for more than six months or still haven’t returned. Jake Bittle’s recent book, The Great Displacement, looks at parts of the country where climate disasters have already begun to reshape daily life. He foresees a large-scale displacement of people from the worst affected areas to more hospitable parts of the country. Many of the people who move in the future won’t be doing so out of an abundance of caution, but because disaster has already hit. “These movements,” Jake writes, “will be unpredictable, chaotic, and life-changing.” Jake, welcome to the show.

Jake Bittle: Thank you for having me.

Laura: Your book is called The Great Displacement. When you talk about people leaving their homes and finding new places to live, what kind of scale are you envisioning?

Jake Bittle: Disasters are already displacing hundreds of thousands or millions of people for any length of time each year. Most of those people do end up making it back home. But if even a few tens of thousands per year don’t end up making it back to the same places that they lived before, then you’re talking about, in the single to double digit, millions by the mid-century. Most of those movements are over relatively short geographic distances. Even when they’re permanent, they’re still moving 10 to 15 miles within the same city or within the same metropolitan area, but I think that by the middle of the century, you’re going to see more of those movements starting to be longer distances. It starts to add up. And it doesn’t look like one coherent movement or march northward, but it’s a lot of people, and there’s this just element of instability that I think becomes chronic for people who live in areas that are perennially prone to disasters.

Laura: Your book covers a pretty wide swath geographically of the U.S.—coastal areas, desert areas, areas by rivers that are drying up. Talk us through some of the places that people are increasingly having to leave.

Jake Bittle: The two places that I’ve seen the biggest out-migration so far would be parts of the Gulf Coast, were after repetitive shock from hurricanes, the places just empty out because they don’t have the infrastructure to rebuild, and California has seen a lot of that migration because of the chronic stress of wildfires. Not only people losing their homes, but also people just getting fed up with constant exposure to smoke and particulate matter from the smoke.

Alex: You called your book The Great Displacement. Often when we hear about people moving for climate change–related reasons, climate migration is the term used. To me, that describes maybe some of the people we were talking about earlier who voluntarily chose to go somewhere else because it seemed like a better place in the future. Why did you decide to use the term ‘displacement’ instead?

Jake Bittle: The predominant form of movement is a domestic involuntary movement from one home to another, to another, to another, potentially back to the original place because people just don’t really have a choice. And those reasons are often physical because the house isn’t there, or they’re economic and financial. In housing studies, and in discourse around housing, ‘displacement’ is a universal term for when somebody gets evicted or when they get priced out of a neighborhood. We call them displaced. And I thought that that was a more apposite term for what’s happening in a lot of the places that are most vulnerable to climate change. It doesn’t look like a voluntary ‘point A to point B’ migration in most cases.

Laura: You mentioned that most of the moves people are making are fairly small moves. If you live in a coastal area that’s been flooded, maybe you’re moving a couple of miles inland, or to higher ground. What kind of factors affect people’s ability to actually find that next place they’re going to move to?

Jake: For most people, there’s a social and economic logic that makes people want to stay. If you have a job, for instance, or if you have a family, you want to stay relatively close to your family. But there’s a second thing, which is equity in your home if you are a homeowner, and insurance. In a lot of cases, if they want to leave the specific house and they get an insurance payout and they can go somewhere else, they have to find something that’s comparable in price. So this precludes people from going, “Okay, well, I’m in rural Louisiana, I don’t want to be here anymore.Why don’t I move to Chicago where there’s not much risk of sea-level rise” because they can’t afford it. The opposite thing happened in California where people got really fed up with the fires. They sold their homes, which are worth a million five or two million. Then they moved to Boise, much less fire exposure, where home values are much lower. So they could basically have their pick of the litter in terms of the housing market there. The economic differential between the home that you have, the one that you want, and whether you have any equity at all is the main driver of movement decisions. For tenants, the options are even slimmer.

Alex: And the factors that go into where people end up are not always totally logical. It reminds me of a story of someone in your book who relocated after Hurricane Katrina and ended up in Tucson, which is hardly a place that will be immune from the future effects of climate change.

Jake: Her primary motivation was wanting to escape the thing that she had already experienced, and that had been deeply traumatic for her, which was hurricane risk. In fact, she was so scared of flooding that she purchased flood insurance in Tucson. It’s not that you couldn’t have a flood if it rained hard enough, but she might be the single customer in the National Flood Insurance Program in Tucson.

Laura: It seems that a lot of these moves, they’re not incredibly calculated or they take only one or two factors into account, and what you can see is instead of a single migration, you’re seeing people hopping from one climate disaster–prone area to an area that’s prone to different types of disasters and so on. I’m wondering if the movement here is more like lots and lots of hopping around, a process of being displaced more or less continually, rather than just a move from A to B.

Jake: For the most part, climate change is usually the main factor in so many people leaving a certain place if they lose their home or if it gets too expensive to live there because there’s not enough housing because it got destroyed in a fire. Where people end up right now doesn’t seem to be predominantly influenced by considerations of climate change. In fact, it looks like people just started to mimic the existing trends of migration that are independent of climate change. We have a lot of movement into Sunbelt states. People want to live in places like Dallas, Atlanta. And so people from the most vulnerable areas like coastal Louisiana, California, when they get displaced by climate change, they just merge onto the highway of existing migration trends. If the South becomes much less hospitable because of extreme heat—which is like a chronic problem, it’s not just like once every 10 years—then maybe those places start to look a lot less appealing.

Laura: It sounds like a big element of where people can move is where a big company’s moving because if a big company is saying, we want to have our headquarter in a city that’s going to be fairly insulated from big climate disasters, then there’s going to be a lot of jobs there and people can actually move there. But if they’re still going to the Sunbelt, then that’s kind of where you have to move if you’re trying to make a living, and these are the industries you need to work in.

Jake Bittle: Exactly. A bunch of big data centers all opened in Arizona, and that’s under the presumption that there’s enough water for them.

Alex: That seems so wild to me that it takes a ton of water and a ton of cooling.

Jake Bittle: There’s an argument that agriculture and livestock, these industries will shift first because they’re extremely exposed to those factors. But there’s also a white-collar thing where startups who don’t have legacy real estate holdings, they might say, “Well, if we’re gonna go to Cincinnati, we’re getting a nice tax break.” It’s a little speculative, but there’s no reason to think that wouldn’t happen down the road.

Alex: That gets to an important point you make at the end of your book, which is that whatever future we’re talking about here is probably not going to be equally distributed, that where people end up there won’t always be a lot of choice involved, and it could be a future where the people who can get out to these places get out, but not everyone’s going to have that option.

Jake: That’s in general, even independent of climate change. Younger, wealthier people are more mobile. And again, it’s a long way off, but if it ever became the case that a climate-resilient city was attractive, you would see that city develop along the lines of Austin where it’s extremely dominated by white collar industry with attendant affordability problems for everybody. Then you have the other places, where the elderly, low-income people, they don’t really have the ability to just move and they may not want to either, those places enter a cycle of underinvestment and they get left behind the same way that a lot of rust belt cities did.

Laura: One of the things that I think is often overlooked, in broad conversations about climate changes, is that it’s not just going to be a single set of changes that are a major part of climate changes. Unpredictability and increased frequency of severe events that are happening all over the place. Given that unpredictability, what do you think of the concept of a climate-proof city?

Jake: On paper there’s certain places that, no matter how crazy things get, are probably gonna be relatively safe. On the other hand, any city can be made much more resilient in ways that really matter with enough spending. Even coastal cities, if you’re willing to put in the money. Like here in New York City for instance, there’s no doubt that we will because they’re just an unlimited appetite to spend on storm-surge perception, etc. You can basically always make those projects tensile when you have the financial district behind the left. It’s one thing to look at places that look like good candidates, but with clout and money and an attentive federal government, it’s not that we have to write off the places that don’t look so good.

Laura: So it’s not like Duluth is going to replace New York.

Jake: No, I don’t think any city is going to replace New York.

Laura: There’s a false sense of security in thinking, “Well, if I were able to move to Duluth or Buffalo, then climate change won’t be an issue for me,” when in fact, just this year we saw people snowed in in Buffalo, unable to leave their homes. No one seemed to really care or come to help them. Maybe it’s not about climate change, but it’s a severe weather event, which highlights the difficulty of relocating to places like that.

Jake Bittle: In 2021, there was a massive heat wave in the Pacific Northwest, one of the worst this century, and it was in Portland, Oregon. Hundreds of people died. In Canada too. There’s risk and there’s risk, right? There’s no place, and there never has been, where you could say “I’m insulated from severe weather events”—especially not convective storms and flooding, and especially not heat waves. Perhaps people are getting the wrong idea about what the future of these places is like. There are some odd things about branding as a climate-proof city:What do you mean? How do you define “proof”? When are you “proofed”? Portland, up until the moment of the heat wave, probably would have said, “We’re pretty resilient to climate change.” So there’s a possibility that 50 years down the road, the climate-proof cities might say, “Shit, I really wish I wasn’t a climate-proof city, because this comes with all kinds of problems.” There’s maybe an upside if you’re Duluth, but not necessarily an unclouded one.

Alex: I want to get to some of your prescriptions. We’re talking about resiliency, and we can talk about resiliency in terms of building levees or elevating highways, but I want to talk about what you think the country needs to be doing and what we need to be doing to prepare, not just in terms of infrastructure. What do you think the country owes to the people who are going to be displaced in the future?

Jake: If you think about this for a while, you start to realize that it’s not easy to make a distinction between people who move because of climate change and people who move because of affordability problems or because of the eventualities of life. If you wanna say, “Well, what should we do for people who are displaced by climate change?” then you really have to ask yourself, “What should we do for people who are displaced?” Period. There’s a lot of climate-specific solutions, right? There’s physical infrastructure you can use to defend places against hurricane risk and fire risk. There’s policies like what we call managed retreat in climate adaptation studies, which is we give people money to move away from the worst effective places. But then there’s a whole mess of affordability and displacement and financial immiseration that can really only be solved by tackling the problem of housing. You want to make sure everyone has a safe place to go. That entails a much bigger conversation than just “what do we do about people who have to leave Miami.” It’s really hard to see what a comprehensive solution to that would look like, and you have to spend a lot more money. The federal government is really the only entity that has the necessary resources to solve this problem. There’s just not any other game in town.

Alex: Yeah. And we’re talking primarily about domestic moves within the U.S., but the question is going to only become more urgent about what we ought to do about people being displaced internationally. What are your thoughts on that?

Jake: The way that we used to think about housing is if you’re a citizen of the U.S. and you’re from here, then you should get housing and we’ll try to provide you housing. But then there’s a second moral obligation, because the U.S. and other wealthy countries emit the vast majority of historical carbon to the extent that there’s international climate displacement from developing countries, small island states, and Central America. A lot of that can be laid and has been laid directly at the feet of the U.S., Germany, the United Kingdom, and other historical emitters. As that burden of migration starts to get shifted across international borders, there’s a pretty strong moral obligation that more and more people will recognize in very clear terms that those countries which are, not coincidentally, very temperate—

Alex: Temperate with access to resources.

Jake: —and well resourced provide housing, shelter, and a better life for people who don’t really have a choice but to come there. You end up in this place where the wealthiest and best resource countries really need to make sure that the people from other countries and from their own countries who lose their homes end up with safe and affordable shelter.

Alex: All right, Jake, thank you so much for talking to us today.

Jake: Thanks so much.

Laura: Jake Bittle’s book, The Great Displacement: Climate Change and the Next American Migration, is out now.

Alex: The Politics of Everything is co-produced by Talkhouse.

Laura: Emily Cooke is our executive producer.

Alex: Lorraine Cademartori assisted on this episode.

Laura: Myron Kaplan is our audio editor.

Alex: If you enjoy The Politics of Everything and you want to support the show, one thing you can do is write a review wherever you get your podcasts. Every review helps.

Laura: Thanks for listening.