Columns

2017.03.08 The Future

By RICH FOLEY

Recently, I read an article in Popular Science magazine titled “Where to Live in America, 2100 A.D.” it presented a bleak portrait of what calamities we’ll be facing at that time. Did I say “we?” I’m sure I’ll be long gone by then, as well as, unfortunately, most of you reading this. Nonetheless, it’s interesting reading. 

Predictions for 83 years hence don’t look good, and six major types of hazards blanket most of the continental United States. Since they aren’t included, I presume that some disaster has already eliminated Hawaii and Alaska from the discussion. Those of you, or your descendants, in the lower 48 states may be next.

Popular Science has divided the country into 351 roughly square areas, each tagged with its greatest threat. For example, 52 zones have a wave, denoting their potential for disaster due to a rise in sea level. 

With some geologists predicting a rise of several feet by the 22nd century, coastal communities and cities like New York, Miami and New Orleans are at particular risk. You could head inland, but that has its own set of problems. Say, for example, hurricanes.

The good news is that climatologists don’t think the number of hurricanes overall will rise by 2100. But, and here’s the bad news, those of stronger Category 4 or 5 strength are expected to double.

Hurricanes could also occur farther north than they do now, so 28 squares have them as their biggest concern. Boston and New York City, if they haven’t already washed away, could be blown away instead.

Also in the wind department, tornadoes are the biggest threat in 39 areas. An expected rise in temperatures later in the century will make twisters both more frequent and more severe in the Southeast. As always, Kansas, Oklahoma and parts of Texas are in trouble as well.

Popular Science offers some advice to those without basements: Take shelter from a tornado in a windowless room, closet or hallway. Well, duh. I guess some things never change.

Wildfires are expected to be the biggest danger in 42 zones. Predicted to cover larger expanses in the future, all are in the West and Southwest.

Drought is the second largest problem on the map, covering 58 areas. While the entire country is expected to be at higher risk for drought, the Great Plains are most susceptible.

None of this was much of a surprise to me, but the greatest menace of all was one I wouldn’t have guessed. Nearly one third of the total map, 110 squares, is most at risk from—wait for it—mosquitoes. Yes, mosquitoes.

By 2100, pathogen-carrying mosquitoes are “predicted to expand their range across the Southern and coastal states, sparing only the north central part of the U.S.” And they will be bringing the Zika virus and dengue with them. That’s another good reason not to be around in 2100. For us, we live right on the cusp of mosquitoes and drought, so pick your poison.

Finally, there are the lucky 22 areas expected to mostly avoid the aforementioned disasters. A few are in extreme western New York state while others are in the most northern parts of North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Then, there’s Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which has over half of the “safe” squares. Apparently, the experts aren’t expecting a rise in the level of Lakes Superior, Michigan or Huron.

Popular Science goes so far as to suggest everyone should move to Sault Ste. Marie, expected to be “lucky enough to escape most of the changes wreaking havoc on the rest of the country.” And, they say it will stay cool enough for ice fishing, if that’s still a priority for anyone.

That’s all we need, a national publication starting a stampede toward a formerly quiet little town. At least they didn’t mention the Antlers Bar, a favorite stop of mine on the rare occasions I’ve made it that far north. Enough people already know about it without even more publicity.

I first went there in 1979 while on vacation. They had great food, Waylon Jennings on the jukebox and all sorts of outdoorsy items, including a huge canoe, hanging from the ceiling. I think I still have a souvenir menu I bought on my first visit, well worth the 25 cents.

A year or so ago, I learned that the Antlers is actually owned by a friend’s uncle. Maybe that could get me a good seat when all the survivalists start arriving. An Antlers burger sounds pretty good right now. It may be my last chance.