The U.S has a problem. No, not that one, but a very particular problem related to the geography of growth and water availability. Put simply, both population growth and job growth in the U.S appears to increasingly concentrated in a handful of states, while a significant number, in particular in the Midwest, are experiencing decreases in population, with internal migration playing an big role. Adam Carstens has a neat summary at Medium highlighting these trends, and Forbes notes that 7 of the 10 of their ‘best for jobs’ cities in 2017 are concentrated in water-stressed western states (Utah, Arizona, Texas and California). Importantly, these are not just short-term blips, but reflect longer-term changes as well – 7 of the 10 fastest growing states from 1990-2000 were also western states.
The WEF Global Risks Report was published last week, and as ever contains plenty of things to keep you up worrying about at 3am. The report notes the increasing interconnectedness of risks, and the potential for societal polarization and inequality to produce political outcomes which reduce our ability to deal with global risks. Strikingly though, climate-related risks account for 4/5 of the highest impact risks, and 2/3 (arguably 3/3 if we include a climate-migration link) of the most likely risks.
We often style climate adaptation as navigating landscapes of resilience. Every now and then we see images that resonate with the emotions of navigating complexity. This arrived in a new year greeting. To me it hints at a shadowy world on the left, partly seen and filtered through various lens in the middle with a person on the right. I don't know if the artist had this in mind! And you may see it differently too.
In the aftermath of the U.S election there’s been a lot written about why the polls were off, and the role of forecasting sites such as 538 and The Upshot. In particular I’ve been struck by the conversation about the problems that these sites, which use models to forecast the likelihood of each candidate winning, have in communicating the uncertainty and probabilities around their forecasts, and similarities with discussions in the climate world.