January 1, 2015 12:11 am
Updated: January 2, 2015 12:24 am

Scientist predicts mass exodus of climate change refugees to Pacific Northwest


British Columbians, brace yourselves for a possible mass migration of Californians to our coastline.

According to several scientists, the Pacific Northwest is one of the safest places to live as far as climate change is concerned.  Cliff Mass, an atmospheric science professor from the University of Washington, predicts the Pacific Northwest will be one of the best places to live as the earth warms from Global Warming. He foresees a mass exodus of climate change refugees.

On his blog , Mass details why so many people may be “forced” to move, and why the Pacific Northwest could fare better than other parts of the world with climate change, referring to the region as a “potential climate refuge.”

The coloured areas represent extreme climate change. Yellow indicates areas that will be highly stressed for water. Orange represents additional locations that might be significantly affected by hurricanes. Purple dots for the blank locations with substantial heat wave risk. Red areas indicates regions that will experience substantial negative impacts of global warming from sea level rise.

Cliff Mass blog

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While most regions brace for impact from extreme weather patterns hastened by climate change, the west coast will remain largely unaffected, thanks in part to the Pacific Ocean, which moderates temperatures and supplies plenty of fresh water. The region is also largely immune to severe weather systems, like hurricanes and typhoons.

California is currently experiencing one of its worst droughts in 500 years. Even if that drought ends, another one may be coming according to a report out from Princeton University, which suggests that the sunny state has an 80% chance of a 10-year drought and 20-50% chance of a 35-year drought.

The state’s dwindling water supply is putting the agriculture industry at risk.  Most of B.C.’s fresh fruits and vegetables are imported from California during the winter season, but if the water supply continues to stay low, farmers will likely relocate their production farther north. California wineries are already buying vineyards in the Willamette Valley, located in Oregon.

The Pacific Northwest won’t emerge unscathed, however, forest fires, the Pine Beetle infestation, and disrupted salmon runs will each have their own impact on the region. But as far as “winners” and “losers” go for climate change, B.C. and the rest of the Pacific Northwest could become a new safe haven for those fleeing rising mercury.


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