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Climate Migration

Some regions are referred to as “climate havens” because they are located in areas less likely to suffer from extreme weather events and are designed in such a way that they could welcome more residents. 

Will the Town of Aurora Become a Climate Haven?

The Great Lakes region is considered especially attractive because it is spared both the storms of the East Coast and the wildfires of the West, and has no shortage of fresh water.  Locally, Lake Erie helps moderate temperature extremes.  In addition to this, anticipated warming trends mean that our region’s infamous winters will become less bitter. A recent study by Tulane University Associate Professor of Real Estate, Jesse Keenan list Buffalo as number two on a list of top 10 climate migration cities.  “Temperate northern states will get the most inbound migration,” according to Keenan.  (Source: Ecowatch 4/22/23)

 

The Erie County Climate Vulnerability Assessment (Draft of Climate Hazards Summary Report August 16, 2020) is in agreement with this prediction. This report states:

 

"The Erie County region has recently been described as a potential “climate oasis” (Aldia Environmental, 2020; NBC News, 2020). In general, this is due to the region’s proximity to immense freshwater resources found in the Great Lakes and relative mild temperatures that may provide greater ecosystem and economic resilience compared to other regions."

Benefits & Challenges to Becoming a Climate Haven-

While on the surface being a climate haven could be a positive for our region that has suffered declining population numbers, the benefits of increased population growth will also present challenges. The Erie County Climate Vulnerability Assessment (Draft of Climate Hazards Summary Report August 16, 2020 continues: 

 

"The Great Lakes are a massive resource of freshwater, but they are not unlimited.  Indeed, these resources have already been strained for decades due to pollution and human development (Environmental Law & Policy Center, 2019), and the additional stressor of climate change may further exacerbate the problem. Combine the existing degradation of these resources with an influx of “climate refugees” or “climate immigrants” from more severely impacted regions, and the resources may not be as rich as once thought."

 

The report further warns that potential changes in temperature across the region are likely to cause negative impacts for residents. For example, the report recognizes that while current residents may be used to frigid winter temperatures, climate refugees coming from warmer locations will be less adapted.  The recent tragedies of immigrants who suffered and perished in the December storm of 2022 are a tragic case in point.

 

On the opposite and of the spectrum, the report also warns that current residents are likely less prepared for warmer temperatures and more frequent heat waves predicted for our summer months. The  report also stresses that our region has one of the oldest housing stocks in the country and many homes lack air conditioning.  Furthermore, modeled projections as climate change progresses may become more extreme than anticipated.

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