As The Climate Changes And The Earth Warms, Where's The Safest Place On Earth To Live?

Are there any safe havens? Yes - but it's complicated. Zacarias Pereira da Mata/Shutterstock

Robin Andrews 10 Mar 2018, 13:32

Climate change is, self-evidently, a global phenomenon. From the most populous cities to the loneliest, isolated islets, everyone, everywhere will be affected in some way by climate change.

Not everyone’s circumstances are equal, though, and climate change resilience varies widely from place to place. So are there places on this pale, blue, warming dot of ours that will be threatened and affected by climate change the least? Is anywhere on Earth, within reason, relatively protected from the ravages of climate change?

Potentially, yes – and the chances are, if you’re reading this article, you’re already there. If you’re thinking it might be the United States, though, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise.

The crux of the matter is that climate change isn’t just a ubiquitous problem, it’s also deeply complex.

“It depends how exposed and sensitive each place is, and how well it can both prepare for the climate event and deal with it afterwards,” Professor Lindsay Stringer, an expert in the environment and development and member of the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds, told IFLScience.

“For this reason it’s hard to say country X will do ok under climate change and country Y won’t.”

Looking for respite from climate change is a somewhat difficult task. It’s easier to rule out countries that will be the most threatened by the phenomenon, but as Stringer emphasized: “Ultimately, everyone is affected.” You can’t escape climate change if your feet are on the ground.


It depends, of course, on how badly somewhere is already being affected by climate change. Hurricanes are almost certainly becoming stronger; droughts are becoming more frequent and intense; heatwaves, particularly in already warm regions, are going to get precipitously more potent; cities on shorelines all over the world will continue to face an increasing risk of suffering from major flooding. Small islands, low-lying areas, and skinny nations with coasts are all in trouble.

In short, any nation already experiencing such extremes will be at an increased risk in the future. From the US to Tuvalu, no country on Earth will be completely safe.

However, as Stringer pointed out, “those places where climate change is superimposed over other hazard risks often fare worst.” So let’s rule these places out.

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