Michigan To Be the New Florida?
A recent report in Popular Science suggests that Michigan will become the most desirable location in the United States by the turn of the next century. Although this may seem far fetched, let’s look at some of the factors responsible for such a ringing endorsement of the Great Lake state.
Much of the survey focuses on the effects of the (oddly controversial) concept of climate change and its expected impact on North America of which Michigan (seemingly) stands immune: drought, rising sea level and the impact of more frequent, bigger and stronger hurricanes.
Rising sea level, expected to reach six feet by the end of this century, will completely change the landscape of U.S. coastal states along the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts. The most vulnerable will be near the Mississippi Delta on the Gulf coast and south Florida, rendering little of it recognizable. Today much of Florida sits mere feet above sea level while its high point, Britton Hill in the Florida panhandle, rises only 345 feet, the lowest high point among American states. Michigan, at it’s lowest point, rests at 571 feet, well out of reach from even the wildest prediction for sea level increases.
In addition, as ocean surface temperatures increase the frequency and intensity of storms in the form of category 4 and 5 hurricanes will continue to batter the coastline, flooding and further eroding it beyond recognition.
Persistent drought will continue to exacerbate the increasing demand for clean drinking water as well as strain crop production. This lack of moisture will also aid in the rapid increase in intensity and frequency of naturally occurring forrest fires similar to those that recently ravaged northern California wine country (and predicted by many to be a preview of things to come). Drought has also affected thousands of miles of the American south and west in recent years.
Most of Michigan is a peninsula surrounded by 6 quadrillion gallons of fresh water which accounts for one-fifth of the world’s fresh water supply. Today the Great Lakes provide drinking water to more than 40 million, a number surely on the rise as more people move into the region by mid century.
Another consequence of a warming climate is the expected increase in the range of virus transmitting mosquitoes, who are currently limited to warmer regions of South and Central America (with occasional stretches into south Florida). Spurned by warming temperatures further north, this increased range could bring regular epidemics of Zika, West Nile and malaria into the Ohio Valley. Fortunately, at least for now, scientists do not expect this threat as far north as Michigan.
Michigan remains the home of boundless natural resources, and stands – oddly, and at least for the foreseeable future – immune to most natural disasters such as landslides, forest fires, hurricanes, tornadoes and drought. In fact, for many, a slightly warmer climate might even improve this already agreeable environment.