Minneapolis is the new NYC

Minneapolis is the new NYC

Now that we've survived the Mayan apocalypse, we may have to start contending with a more insidious doom: rising oceans.

But one way to offset at least the financial punch of climate change, says The Economist's economic correspondent, Ryan Avent, is for people to start migrating. Specifically, migrating to places like Minneapolis.

Avent lays out his Minneapolis theory in an on-camera conversation, released last week, with the magazine's globalization editor, John Parker, and briefings editor, Oliver Morton, following the U.N.'s climate conference in Doha, Qatar. The scene looks like what you might expect from an Economist video: British accents, lots of books behind Avent.

Before he gets to the possible benefits of mass migration, Avent offers some caveats. Chiefly, any moves will only be possible "so long as we don't hit really high temperature increases that might make agriculture completely unproductive and lead to the end of life on earth."

Details like those aside, Avent says, "I think what we would expect to see is that locations like lower Manhattan become less attractive over 5, 10, 15, 20 years, and locations on higher ground or further north would be more attractive."

High and dry means, he continues, "for instance, a city like Minneapolis, which is going to be warmer in the winters and...less vulnerable to coastal flooding."

"If it's possible to relatively smoothly relocate people and activity as the planet warms," Avent says, "a lot of the costs of rising sea levels, droughts, and shifting into different places where crops grow well could be substantially reduced." (Minnesota farmers still did notably well this drought-stricken season).

Avent lists some factors that will influence whether Minneapolis becomes the new New York. The first is if governments allow and facilitate it. The second, "the odds we get catastrophic events that occur too quickly for people to adjust" (that fun end-of-the-world, Lady Liberty floating off into the Atlantic scene again). The third, the extent to which Manhattan perseveres, and does things like plot density on higher ground and re-route subways instead of just building flood walls.

The key metric, though, will be time. If Minneapolis is going to be the city of the future, it will require a gradual process of building up infrastructure and preparing for the influx of displaced coast-dwellers. "If people start moving to Minneapolis," Avent asks, "is Minneapolis going to have the resources to build more roads, more electrical and plumbing infrastructure, more railways if that's what's necessary, more airports?"

As Morton explains before the end of the video, climate change will produce adaptations and impacts. For residents of warmer regions, migration will be an adaptation. But as those people stream north, Minnesotans might start feeling migration as an impact.

Unoccupied Courtroom

Last week, the last of the Occupy activists facing riot charges over the Cruz home protests arrived at a courtroom for trial, joined by about 50 supporters. If convicted, the four defendants — Catherine Salonek, Jessica Davis, Tomahawk Riley, and Dee Xaba — would face up to two years in prison and a $7,000 fine.

They were among 14 charged and 39 arrested (including Brother Ali) in May and June as they demonstrated against the Cruz family's eviction from their south Minneapolis home.

Just before the trial was to start, lawyers offered a plea deal that dropped the riot charges. Instead, the four defendants pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor that will not go on their records if they complete community service and a year of probation.

Now that the last case has been settled, Occupy Homes is looking to go on the legal offensive.

"There have been a number of incidents, especially at the Cruz house, where people felt like their rights were violated," says Nick Espinosa, an Occupy organizer whose own riot charges were dropped prior to last week.

Espinosa says that Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan, now retired, stepped on his neck and shoulders at one of the Cruz demonstrations, and that other protestors reported physical altercations with the police.

"We don't like this kind of a distraction, but when our supporters are facing unjust charges we have no choice but to respond to that," says Espinosa. "We're glad that this is finally coming to an end, and that we can get back to focusing on the work we want to do, which is keeping our neighbors in their homes."

Minneapolis skyline and, right, New York City preparing the subway for Hurricane Sandy
adamsfelt and MTAPhotos via Flickr

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