A few days ago I was out conducting field work and met a landowner who had recently made the move to Minnesota from California. When I asked what prompted the change of scenery he replied climate change. We got to talking and I was troubled to hear his story.
A few decades ago this gentleman built his families dream home, nestled away in the Sierra Mountains of northern California. This was the property where they planned to retire. They constructed the home having a strong understanding of wild fires in the area and the natural role fires play within the ecosystem. Once construction was complete conditions only worsened. Every year would bring a longer and more severe fire season, slowly becoming more and more unmanageable. The home would be encased in smoke for months at a time, making it unsafe to go outside. Private insurers stopped providing fire insurance due to the increased demand and unprecedented payouts.
New levels of stress were introduced from constantly worrying about losing the home or much worse a family member or friend. What was supposed to be paradise now felt more like a prison. Eventually they reached a personal breaking point and decided to sell the home. Even this aspect was now incredibly difficult and resulted in a large financial loss.
This conversation stuck with me as his experiences were a firsthand account of the realities of climate change. In the future more citizens will have to relocate due to extreme weather conditions such as fires, hurricanes, excessive rainfall and drought. Minnesota could become a northern climate safe haven. The issue of climate change is something we are going to have to try and tackle together as a country. By working together and combining our individual efforts we still have the ability to shift the direction of things and help ensure a healthy planet for future generations.