Climate Change: Should The Government Move People

I read this article and it seems to be a very entitled piece IMO. What responsibility does the federal government have in helping us move when things change where we live?

I’m thinking you have to be an idiot right now to live in Arizona, Nevada, and most of California because there are more people than there is fresh water. Anyone that lives there knows this, yet they are paying through the nose for housing and crossing their fingers. Why should everyone else be responsible when the well runs dry?

The federal government should be telling everyone to GTFO right now is what the federal government should be doing. Go find some place else to live before the water runs out because afterwards is going to be miserable.

Same goes for coastal property that costs a bazillian $'s and might literally underwater in 50 years. You know what’s coming don’t cross your fingers hoping someone else takes care of it for you.

There are two main options in the context of sea level rise and coastal property: either it’s a short/medium-term threat and politicians are failing their people by not dealing with it now, or it’s not really a short/medium-term threat and that’s why nothing is being done and why the rich continue to buy ocean front mansions like Obama did on Martha’s Vineyard.

Science doesn’t support the idea of reducing emissions as a short-term or medium-term solution to any of climate change’s effects. This is called “committed warming” or “climate commitment.”

Astute observers may notice that politicians typically talk about climate change response without ever getting explicit on how they expect the response to benefit us, specifically. This is presumably due to the aforementioned science which says there’s no way to change things in the short/medium-term. Consider Kamala Harris’ recent remarks:

Climate change has become a climate crisis, and a threat has now become a reality

The devastation is real. The harm is real. The impact is real and we are witnessing it in real time.

The frequency has accelerated in a relatively short period of time. The science is clear. Extreme weather will only get worse, and the climate crisis will only accelerate.

[Biden and Harris] have a duty to act, not only after disaster strikes, but before disaster strikes, and that is why we are here today.

Notice she’s careful not to say something like “we can stop disaster striking by acting now.” Because science doesn’t support this. The “science is clear” that climate change is real, but is the “science clear” on exactly what to do about it???

I think the difference between mitigation and adaption strategies is a critical question, one I’m glad you’re asking even if you don’t realize that’s what you’re asking. The lack of pursuit of adaptation strategies could be one of the largest opportunity costs in human history. Cynical me would point out how it may be easier to make money off mitigation strategies that change consumer behavior like eating less meat (buy BeyondMeat stocks), moving to renewable energy and electric vehicles (solar, battery, and e-vehicle stocks), eating bugs (bug food stocks), and various efficiency standards than it is to make money off purely adaptation strategies like seawalls, desalination, stormwater infrastructure, and relocation.

Of course, politicians selling out their constituents’ future for short-term financial gain is a tale as old as time itself. So don’t be too surprised.

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I saw a recent headline on this that basically said “Midwesterners don’t want to pay to ship us their freshwater? Fine, but don’t expect us to help when you’re in trouble.”

And my initial thoughts were,

  1. Arizona needs to solve Arizona problems. It’s not our place to enable them.
  2. When would we be expecting you to?

Minnesota doesn’t expect other states to pay for their snow plowing.
Illinois really ought to deal with its pension crisis and doesn’t (I think) expect California to fund it for them.
New York City residents don’t ask Kentucky for rent subsidies.

Every location has advantages and drawbacks, and for the most part, localized issues ought to be built into the cost of living there. But it’s not really fair to get to live in perpetual Florida summer, while simultaneously telling North Dakota that they need to fund a wall for them to keep away flooding that is coming in 50 years.

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Didn’t Illinois and other state pensions get bailed out with one of the COVID bills? Problem solved! No structural reforms necessary!

Not that I’m aware of, but I’m certainly not an expert.

All that floodwater? Send it out west! Done!

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Really? You don’t think those states get Federal assistance for locally occurring “natural disasters” that they are fully aware could occur?


New York

North Dakota

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Apparently they got $86 billion to bail out the union pensions without fixing anything. Yay politics!

No, no it didn’t. ARP monies were specifically prohibited from being used for public pensions. Obviously money is fungible so that really only has a minimal effect, but then the answer is no more than any other state did for some other “irresponsible” spending.

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You know those aren’t “Illinois” pensions right? Multi-employer pension plans are private employer pensions, nut public employer pensions.


Correct it was a union handout. Public pensions will be the next bailout. I mean, public pensions certainly aren’t going to fix anything after seeing this, right?

The water problem out west is bigger than any pension problem. Like literally the entire state of Arizona, Nevada, and most of SoCal, will literally turn their faucet on one day and nothing will come out. What’s that look like? I don’t think you’re really imagining it correctly if you’re comparing it to pensions problems. People need to be leaving now and we should be building houses left and right along the Ohio, Mississippi, and Great Lakes to handle them moving this direction.

I think the point was the similarity of socializing the costs of bad decisions, like dumb pension design and funding and unfettered population growth in the desert. NFIP is another good example of this phenomenon.


Not even the same thing. You’re comparing a few million dollars of short term relief to a fundamental restructuring of national costs.

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California still has a few things it can do before running out of water. Countries like Australia and Israel use significantly less water per capita than California. Most of Californian water is used for agricultural use, so that could be reduced.

If there is a charge on water usage, it will eventually become too high for many and that will encourage people to move away without the government forcing them.


And you are basing this “fundamental restructuring of national costs” on the headline of an article? You didn’t even bother to look beyond the headline because if you did you would know the strawman you are railing against is simply that.

I agree in principle, but those advantages and drawbacks have shifted quite a bit in recent years, and not everyone who isn’t making sweet actuary money can relocate so easily.

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I did read the article I mentioned.

There was nothing in it to discourage my railing.

I did search for another article, which put the cost of a Mississippi river pipeline at $14.6 billion plus $2,000 an acre-foot to operate, 10 times the cost of the CAP project.

And if Arizona is footing the bill and all the downstream states are onboard, I guess I’d be fine with it.

ETA: I guess my “fundamental restructuring” statement was a bit of hyperbole, to highlight that disaster relief after a flood/tornado (which is a program that applies literally everywhere in the US) is nothing in comparison to the magnitude and duration of things like coastal seawater walls or cross country water transfers.

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No direct responsibility, per se . . . but . . .

Pritzker tried to get this sort of thing done; but it was rejected by Trump.

What if the only other option is that the Federal Government provides hundreds of billions in disaster relief and subsidies for your flood and drought insurance?

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