Surprisingly, climate change may benefit Whidbey Island’s economy. Shorelines and saltwater intrusions may occur, but a national economic study contains some surprisingly positive results for the upper left corner of the lower 48 states.
Whidbey Island is a piece of land sitting on an ocean-washed tectonic plate. The oceans will do what they will do. The land will do what it will do. The two don’t need to negotiate with each other. The atmosphere is also changing, again without caring much about the others. It’s a very elemental environment. As mentioned previously, the glaciers, however, literally weighed about 16,000 years ago.
While Florida is already facing issues with floating septic tanks and is wondering what to do with already marshy soil, Washington State is actually rising. Those tongues of glacial ice retreated long ago, but they weren’t thin sheets. Over the island was over 2,000 feet of ice. That bent the Earth, which continues to unbend. The seas are rising too, though at different rates around the world. Here, the influence is mitigated by the rising land.
Geeks can enjoy many maps that interactively let people play out various scenarios. At least from recent estimates, Whidbey Island’s water levels are expected to rise about 3 feet by 2100. The changes will be noticeable, but far more moderate than in the other corner of the country. Low-bank waterfront homes as well as water and septic systems may be at risk, but the general shape of the island will look the same from space. (Local perspectives will definitely differ.)
Still, the overall impact should be negative. Right?
The US’s GDP is expected to decrease by about 6%, but Island County’s economic impact is expected to rise about 2.6%. Surprised? (They didn’t color in Island County, but look at the tip of the country, up over 10%)
Everything is relative. Climate threats are greatest in the South and along the East Coast. Climate refugees, or at least people who want to move out of such areas, are more likely to be drawn North and West. While Island County’s economy may go up by 2.6%, some of the counties in the Southeast are expected to go down by more than 25.0%. As the economy goes, so go the jobs further encouraging moves from down there to up here.
Whidbey Island’s weather will undoubtedly change. Already, historical climate and weather trends have shifted, but the atmosphere over the Pacific is less well understood than what’s hitting the Gulf and Eastern Seaboard states. They know they’ll have larger upsets. Here, the projections are for maybe more rain, maybe less snow, maybe stronger storms, and maybe stronger droughts. Those maybes may be appealing to people who’ve weathered increasing flooding and hurricanes.
Combine the Pacific Northwest’s economy, it’s more moderate climate response, and negative impacts elsewhere and the region would probably see a lot greater influx than we’ve witnessed from our existing attractions.
Estimates, analyses, and projections are prognosticating, soothsaying, fortune telling – very human endeavours that exist because we want to know what comes next. Nature will do what nature will do. No notice necessary.
So, to those who want to move here, welcome. There may not be much spare room left, but we’ll see if we can fit you in. You’re welcome to relax under skies that may be a bit greyer or wetter, but not very cold or hot. Before you settle in, though; allow us to point out our earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes. But, that’s another story…
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