Is Anywhere Safe from Climate Change?

My search for an acre of escape

Paul Greenberg

--

“Granite erratic, Dudmaston” by Richard Webb is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/?ref=openverse&atype=rich

It was the rock that caught my eye. Dappled with lichen and lighted by the afternoon sun, it appeared to be the perfect place for contemplation. A spot where you could sit and write your novel, ponder your place in the universe, and perhaps reach some kind of equilibrium with the planet.

I came upon the rock right as I was about to give up my hunt for land. Like many people in the last few years, I cannot stop thinking about escape. Escape from the pandemic, escape from the bad news of climate change, escape from the constant dread of what was to come next. I found myself imagining an ideal corner of the world where I might at the very least have a few moments peace from the human onslaught that seems to be upending everything that we think of as natural.

North enough to insulate from ever harsher summers, high enough to have an additional buffer since things get about 1.5 Celsius cooler for every 1000 feet of elevation

And so, I began looking for that corner in the Adirondack Mountains of New York state. Why the Adirondacks? As I explained in an article for Adirondack Life Magazine the Adirondacks appear to be something of a safe haven. North enough to insulate themselves from ever harsher summers, high enough to have an additional buffer — things get about 1.5 Celsius cooler for every 1000 feet of elevation — the region is a good bet for at least some modicum of coolness.

There’s also the issue of water. In an era where aquifers are emptying and demands increasing from all sides, a well-watered place may be as important as a cool place for any kind of future redoubt. The Adirondacks have abundant lakes and rainfall well above the national average. Most models predict an even wetter Adirondacks in the future.

Of course, too much water can be just as bad. 2011’s devastating Hurricane Irene turned the quaint, trout-famous Ausable River into a raging torrent as wide in some places as the lower reaches of the Mississippi. Homes were swept away. Entire villages were turned into islands.

--

--

Paul Greenberg

New York Times bestselling author of Four Fish as well as The Climate Diet and Goodbye Phone, Hello World paulgreenberg.org