"Despite a Changing Climate, Americans Are ‘Flocking to Fire’"

"Over the past decade, Americans have migrated to areas of the country with high wildfire risk, indicating that climate disasters are not yet prioritized in moving decisions."

"Despite an increase in wildfire risk spurred by climate change, Americans are moving to wildfire-prone areas and prioritizing lower housing costs and amenities such as temperate weather and recreational opportunities over risk of natural disasters.

An analysis of U.S. migration data from the past decade published today, “Flocking to fire: How climate and natural hazards shape human migration across the United States,” shows that Americans have been moving into certain “migration hot spots” in the West, Pacific Northwest and South that have high risk of wildfires, as well as to metro areas with high summer temperatures.

The authors write that this “dangerous public health trend” is “increasing the number of people in harm’s way,” especially as both fires and heat waves increase in frequency due to climate change. Experts concerned about public safety in these high-risk population centers urge Americans to understand their environmental risks before moving.

Migration trends are influenced by a number of factors such as job availability, housing costs, and cultural or political fit. Americans also consider so-called “natural amenities,” like a mild climate, variation in the landscape and water bodies, when they determine where to move. Such amenities act as migration “pulls,” and incentivize people to live nearby."

Grace van Deelen reports for Inside Climate News December 8, 2022.

Source: Inside Climate News, 12/09/2022