Earlier this year, CBS Morning News aired a feature story on how some people are choosing to move away from their hometowns that are impacted by heat, drought, wildfires, hurricanes, or rising sea levels.
The story referred to people who relocate for climate reasons as "climate refugees" who are in search of their own "climate haven". According to one source in this story, the climate havens in the United States are located in the Upper Midwest and the Great Lakes Region.
The city of Madison was specifically mentioned as a climate haven because it is relatively free from natural disasters. It was also noted as a desirable place to live due to its reputation for having good schools, good healthcare, an abundance of outdoor and recreational opportunities, and plenty of cultural attractions.
Could it be that stories like these are a little overblown?
We don't think so.
Just recently, we heard from a realtor who lives and works in Fountain Hills, Arizona. Although she's never been to Madison, she's heard great things about our city and is seriously considering moving here. She explained to us that the water supply in Arizona is severely compromised, and she's fearful that living in Arizona will become untenable within a few years.
We also just heard from a family that lives in Southern California. They're planning to move back to the Madison area in large part due to the heat and drought conditions in Palm Springs. According to this young family, they can't wait to move back to the Madison area and begin living a better quality of life.
How will climate change impact the Madison real estate market in the years ahead?
Our population is already growing, and we believe climate-related moves will only increase the demand for real estate and lead to more price appreciation. Home and condo inventory is likely to remain very tight, and a lack of affordable housing will continue to be a serious issue here in Dane County.
Of course climate change impacts our quality of life, too.
Madison is not immune to the effects of climate change. Rising temperatures and increased flooding have already become a fact of life in Dane County. And as our population continues to grow we will need to manage our growth in environmentally sustainable ways. Which begs some important questions:
To what extent will our new construction and housing developments support environmental sustainability?
How will we as individuals and as a community limit our impact on climate? Will we be willing to inconvenience ourselves in order to preserve and protect our planet?
How will we ensure our lakes, rivers and water supply are free of runoff and toxic chemicals?