In the far north of the United States, in the frigid city of Duluth, Christina Welch and John Jenkins have taken refuge from the effects of climate change. The two left California behind, hit by wildfires, to settle in the city known for its cold and snowy winters.
Welch, whose neighborhood in Sonoma County was prone to fires, decided to force her parents to evacuate their home after another fire broke out. For her part, Jenkins was drawn to Duluth’s clean air and pristine waters, leaving California’s beaches behind.
Duluth, with a population of 86,000, has begun to gain recognition as a haven for people fleeing the effects of climate change. Despite its challenging environment, the city is considered an ideal place to live due to its quality of life, job opportunities and affordable housing prices.
Jesse Keenan, an expert on urban planning and climate change adaptation, researched where climate-conscious people prefer to live in the United States. He identified cities like Buffalo and Detroit, but Duluth stands out for its state’s investment in a sustainable economy and its shore on Lake Superior, which provides a valuable resource: fresh water.
While some Duluth residents are excited about the arrival of more people, there are also some challenges. The cold and extreme weather can be hard to adjust to, and local officials are wary of the city’s growing popularity. They fear climate change-themed marketing could be predatory and unprepared to handle population growth.
The correct approach to Duluth’s development is a matter of debate. Keenan suggests promoting sustainable urban development with investment in housing and transportation. Otherwise, there is a risk of a disorganized and exclusionary expansion, which will particularly affect low-income residents.
Duluth has become a place for “climate optimists” who believe it is possible to decarbonize the world and meet the challenges of climate change. However, care must be taken to ensure that development is properly managed and does not negatively impact the fragile ecosystem of the area.
In short, Duluth is attracting people seeking refuge from the effects of climate change, particularly the California wildfires. The city offers quality of life, job opportunities and attractive housing prices. However, growth must be carefully managed to avoid problems and ensure sustainable urban development.