Climate Change Driven Growth in Grand Traverse County

Climate change is a big global issue that is divisive at the national level. In most things, it is not a local issue, because local governments don't have the levers to make much difference. There is one aspect that is strictly local, and that is managing the migration of large segments of the population. Over the last generation, much of the population of Michigan migrated to the South and Southwest for jobs. With climate change, that will reverse.

It is not that I want rapid growth in Grand Traverse County, it is that I want the county to survive growth that will be driven by external forces over which we have little, if any control. We knew for a long time that we did not want to stay in Dallas forever, but an August 2016 New York Times contour map of forecasted 100 degree days in 2050 and 2100 made it clear that a migration would occur, and that we would not be able to afford to move to a place that we liked if we waited. We spent 2017 doing what amounted to a classic business school site selection problem–and ended up spending January of 2017 in Traverse City to see how Kristin, a fifth generation Texan who had never shovelled snow, would cope. After two weeks, she said, “we need to talk to a realtor.” I am sure that we are not the only people making the same decision. If the return migration is only kids of my generation who return after working lives elsewhere it will be a big number.

The pandemic will accellerate this trend, as companies have been forced into a remote work model, and many employees have learned that they don't need to be in the big city.

This Propublica ariticle on Climate Migration is the shortest and most accessible article I've seen on projecting the ramifications of climate change at the county level.