Even ‘safe’ places are experiencing climate chaos in America

Even ‘safe’ places are experiencing climate chaos in America

The New York Times reports:

The capital of Vermont — the state that often tops those “best states to move to and avoid climate change” lists — was, until Tuesday afternoon, mostly underwater.

Swollen by record-breaking rainfall, the Winooski River claimed nearly the entire downtown area of Montpelier late Monday. Swift-water rescue teams helped people escape from the upper floors of apartment buildings not far from the gold-domed State Capitol. Even the governor was forced to hike from his house on a snowmobile trail to reach an emergency response center in time to lead a news conference on the still unfolding disaster. By Wednesday morning, residents and business owners were stepping through the mud caking their front steps and basements to assess how much they had lost.

Vermonters have seen floods before. But amid the scenes of destruction, there was a sense that some threshold had been crossed.

The receding water sloshing in our streets was ferried by storm tracks from fast-warming seas 1,000 miles south. The storm dumped four to nine inches of rain on towns up and down the Green Mountain State, where the ground was already saturated. With nowhere else to go, it filled creeks sluicing off the mountains and then rivers like the Winooski, the Mad and the Black and on into Montpelier and towns like Ludlow, Richmond and Weston, where water submerged much of the fire station.

As the world heats up, our benchmarks are becoming increasingly useless — as useless as the notion that there are any places to move to and avoid climate change. Americans suffer from a longstanding delusion, a hangover of sorts from the Manifest Destiny era, that there will always be some corner of our vast country to escape to. Its 21st-century form is the notion that one can just pick up stakes and move somewhere else to get away from all this quickening climatic chaos. [Continue reading…]

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