Climate change is the current topic of the day and The Great Displacement: Climate Change And The Next American Migration certainly addresses related factors. Jake Bittle concentrates on the impact natural disasters have on the world today. His work is well annotated, which is always a good sign. But his hands-on knowledge of at least one subject is lacking. Multiple statements about the cattle industry were a bit off. So, this reader wonders what other factors may not be quite accurate.
Layout for The Great Displacement
The first seven chapters of the text visit various parts of the United States impacted by natural disasters linked to climate change. The information provided was both interesting and concerning. Especially his description of the Florida Keys which I have not visited since the early 2000’s, many years prior to the destructive force of Hurricane Irma.
However, I can easily identify with Bittle’s descriptions and points. The numerous tidepools and marshes I grew up with along the Atlantic Coast have been replaced by McMansions. Certainly, I can agree and understand the cause and effect the author lays out.
The Great Displacement focuses a good deal on the problems of flooding the country is experiencing. Bittle covers both coastal and inland flooding and focuses on the damage to affordable housing. His points make sense. New home buyers and lower income areas suffer the most. Those with more experience and more wealth can mitigate the losses from climate change influenced natural disasters.
Most interesting to me were the fire disasters of the Western states. High winds are capricious. Mitigation must be done well in advance and when towns burn down, lower and-middle-income families do struggle more to find replacement for housing. I felt like the author did an outstanding job showing the whys and hows in this section.
The topic of drought, including drought-stricken Pinal County, Arizona bothered me a bit. I agree that drought is a big part of climate change. For the first time in many years, I am not living in drought conditions. And I know drought can and most likely will return. So, I understand the topic. Water rights are a complex matter. Perhaps too difficult for just one chapter. And truthfully, I did not grasp the concept of owning water before I moved west from the East Coast.
Furthermore, I live in a region that produces beef. The author and the interviewee in Arizona present the idea that cattle can take care of themselves on pasture year-round. Nothing could be farther from the truth. At best a rancher could hope for six months of grazing and that is from an area receiving 15 inches of annual rainfall. Furthermore, I would like to see the “…footage of factory farms that house thousands of cows or chickens in a single sweltering room…” (p. 270.) Chickens…yes. Thousands of cows in one room? Maybe at the processing plant-but at that point the cattle are becoming hamburger.
Solutions From The Great Displacement
My motivation for buying the text was to see what solutions were offered as well as where migration would lead to. What will happen to the industries operating in areas suffering the most from climate change? Will the northern states become temperate enough? Or will climate change bring even colder winters? These questions and many more can’t be answered now. The author does address them to a certain extent. Furthermore, his analysis on the insurance systems addressing both fire and flood were spot on. Current rules and regulations compound the problem.
Climate change is a controversial subject. For the most part, The Great Displacement covers the topic fairly. But naturally, with few answers to share. No one can see into the future. Yet, we need to address present concerns so the future will include a habitable planet for our children’s children.
This book is worth reading and discussing.