Denmark or bust! What’s YOUR climate change escape plan?

July 22, 2015 Originally published on SFGate

Do you have one yet?

Have you considered what you might do, where you might go, should the climate situation get so dire, so extreme, so hot/cold/wet/dry/stormy/violent/desperate that you’d feel not merely justifiably cautious, but emotionally compelled – for the sake of your sanity, your health, your kids’ future – to get the hell out of the state/country and move somewhere slightly more stable?

Somewhere… safer. Somewhere with lots of water, fewer violent weather patterns, perhaps a federal government not halfway staffed by savagely dimwit Republican climate deniers with their fingers in their ears and their heads up their in the sand?

You wouldn’t be alone, that’s for sure. As John Richardson’s excellent, much-discussed, highly miserable Esquire piece made gruesomely clear, even some of the world’s smartest, most unflappable climate scientists and environmental activists – not normally an anxious, panicky bunch – have had enough.

It’s getting personal, you see. Emotional. Alarming on a very real, very immediate level, so much so that moving somewhere safer is becoming, for many, nothing short of a moral imperative.

This is what happens when you’re pummeled on a daily basis by so much doomsday data you can no longer maintain your professional cool, when you can’t deny that gnawing, inexorable dread deep in your gut, when that inner turmoil gets strong enough that devising a your own exit seems entirely reasonable – unless, due in large part to conservative America’s ignorance, the hate mail, the death threats, the endless GOP attacks – you’ve already left. Many have.

This is how you know, yes? When the smartest people in the room, the ones who are in the thick of it, the ones who see, often firsthand (studying ice loss, measuring retreating forests, counting species die-offs) the direct effects of our stupefying inaction every single day – when these people start moving away, start buying land in Canada, or Denmark, or Ireland or other secret places they won’t mention lest they be run over by the panicked zombie hordes? This is how you know: It might well be time to join them.

It’s a privileged position, obviously. After all, the vast majority of humans have no access to any sort of escape. The vast majority of humanity is, to put it mildly, sort of screwed. Hundreds of millions, perhaps a billion people or more, facing displacement, water shortages, food crisis, famine? It’s no longer a potential future scenario. There is no “maybe.” It’s here. It’s underway. And it’s accelerating. The only real question is: How bad?

Maybe you don’t believe it? Maybe you think it’s best to stay positive, compartmentalize, hold out hope for a reasonable solution as you do what you can in your own life to engage, love your family, enact change wherever possibly? I agree. I feel you. It’s a nice way to be. It’s in our nature. But for many, it’s not nearly enough.

Denmark! Lovely choice. Progressive, lots of water, female PM, bikes and alternative energy and NOT near a flood-prone coastline. Shall we?

Denmark! Lovely choice. Progressive, lots of water, female PM, bikes and alternative energy and NOT near a flood-prone coastline. Shall we?

Or maybe you’re like Jeb “Idiot Brother” Bush, who actually believes climate change will be solved by “a person in a garage somewhere.” He actually said that. Isn’t that quaint? That Jeb actually thinks some wacky inventor will stumble across a magical, glacier-making gizmo that will save the world, cost pennies and can be freely installed on your lawnmower?

Jeb is, of course, a simpering fool. And the Koch brothers are criminals. And aren’t you Republicans just so wacky, always hoping that science will save us from your own savage hatred of – and ignorance about – science.

Fact is, researchers already have an answer. They know more or less exactly what needs to be done: zero out humanity’s carbon emissions, as quickly as possible. Stop pumping 110 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every single day. Enable technologies that will remove some of the CO2 that’s already there. And so on.

In other words, radical change, and be quick about it. It can still be done, they say. There is still hope. And some good is already happening. But much more needs to happen, and fast.

Simple, right? As if.

So, what about you? Where would you go? What would you do if you agreed with (increasing numbers of) very smart scientists that the situation is only going to get far worse, far more quickly than even the most aggressive models predicted, just a few years ago?

You could stay close. Lots of people like the Pacific Northwest, Seattle or Portland, what with their vast repositories of rain and more rain, with some extra rain for good measure. Sounds good, right?

Not anymore. Even those cities are feeling the effects of too much heat and too little snow this year – which, by the way, is on track to be the hottest year ever recorded by man. (Damn you again, science).

But even more dire is the news that the Pacific Northwest is due for a massive shakeup, a thoroughly devastating earthquake that could effectively obliterate the entire coastal Northwest, all within the next 50 years. Can you believe that? Maybe you don’t; it’s just more scientists yammering, after all. Probably another liberal hoax.

Canada! That might be nice. Easygoing. Lots of land. Just need to avoid the vast regions currently being raped by the oil companies for bitumen/tar sands. And the fracking. And the much-loathed, environment-hating PM, Stephen Harper, who’s turning Canada into an international embarrassment. Oh well.

Denmark? Fine choice. Lovely people. Lots of water, alternative energy, decent wifi. Ireland? Sweden? Greenland? Problem is, not many places left that won’t feel the effects. What can you do?

Shall we pause to at least enjoy the irony? How it wasn’t that long ago – hell, it’s still happening right now – that only the silliest, the least educated, the most paranoid among us were scrambling for the bunkers and dashing away to build their creepy off-grid compounds in preparation for the apocalypse, fearing the government (or Jesus, or the zombies, or the Muslims) were about to come and take away their bullets and their Cheez-Whiz?

Not anymore. Now it’s the best and brightest who are, however reluctantly, getting ready for the worst. Now it’s the ones we should trust the most who are trying very, very hard not to sigh heavily and shake their heads in despair… and failing.

Shall we join them? See you in Denmark!

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Mark Morford

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