Issues & Insights

Memo to the NYT: Millions of Americans Are Voting With Their Feet for Climate Change

The New York Times has an article that begins: “As the West burns, the South swelters and the East floods, some Americans are starting to reconsider where they choose to live.” It then goes on to highlight two cities that a Harvard University Graduate School of Design lecturer says would be good “climate refuges” — Duluth, Minnesota, and Buffalo, New York.

Leave aside the fact that the Times sees fit to turn to a school of design lecturer to understand the science of climate change.

The fact is that the very premise of the article is 100% wrong. In the past decades, there has been a mass migration of Americans. But not toward the colder parts of the country.

Despite repeated warnings of the climate catastrophes that await because of global warming, millions of Americans have moved from colder parts of the country to areas where the climate is significantly hotter, and more prone to fires, hurricanes and droughts.

Look at the data: This year, the five states with the biggest gains in population are, in order: Texas, Florida, California, Arizona and North Carolina. These states are among the warmest in the country. And two — Texas and Florida — are the first and fourth hottest states.

Among the nine states that lost population this year, six are in states with below-average temperatures. In, fact, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has even blamed climate for the exodus. When asked why so many people have left New York, his response was that it is “climate based.”

Over the longer term, the trend is even more pronounced.

Census data show that from 2010 to 2017, the country saw a net migration of 2.2 million people into the five hottest states in the country.

These are states that, by the way, are already most prone to the very climate catastrophes environmentalists keep warning us about. As I wrote for IBD:

Last year, for example, a third of the weather-related deaths occurred in just the five hottest states in the nation, according to the National Weather Service. Its data also show that states gaining in population are more prone to heat, hurricanes and floods.

More than 2.5 million people moved into hurricane-prone states like Florida, the Carolinas, Georgia, and Texas from 2010 to 2017. Florida alone had a net in-migration of more than 1 million. (Only Louisiana lost population over those years.) That’s despite constant alarms about how climate change will make hurricanes more frequent and intense.

States gaining population also are far more likely to suffer heat-related deaths and workplace injuries. And they’re more likely to suffer things like mosquito-borne diseases.

This might explain why the public never ranks climate change as a top concern, even as they are warned ad nauseam that it’s the greatest threat mankind faces. Instead, their main concerns are jobs and opportunities, which are increasingly in the Republican-dominated, low-tax, pro-business south and west, and not in the liberal, high-tax, Big Union, growth-killing states in the north and east.

Millions of Americans also know from personal experience that climate change has costs and benefits. And that mankind can and will figure out how to cope with a changing climate.



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John Merline

Veteran journalist John Merline was Deputy Editor of Commentary and Opinion at Investor's Business Daily. Before IBD, he launched and edited the Opinion section of AOL News, and was a member of the editorial board of USA Today, where he continues to be a regular contributor. He’s been published in the Washington Post, National Review, Detroit News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Forbes, and numerous other publications. He is regular commentator on the One America News Network and on local talk radio. He got his start in journalism under the tutelage of M. Stanton Evans.

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