FAQ: The “Where Should I Live” Question

Versions of this question constantly pop up in my feeds and inboxes; it’s on many people’s minds. Most recently it was the coastal version. Someone’s house is just above the current high-tide line, and they ask, “Should I move? Or will food shortages and other chaos cause more problems first, before the rising sea level?”

My answers:

I live 3 minutes’ walk from the ocean, in the city where my heart is.

Various kinds of disaster will be everywhere in the world. ARE everywhere, now, already. I’m as worried or more about the intensifying droughts and wildfires (happening all over, and possibly someday here, sooner rather than later) as I am about sea-level rise.

My answer to the question of where to live comes down to being in a place I love, with people I love. No use picking the safest place (whatever that even means anymore) if I’m not with people I love, in a place I love.

In a neighborhood and community where I feel I can contribute, and want to. To ease suffering; to maybe bring a bit of joy to the lives of people around me. At the end of it all, the most important thing to me is community. Living in a place that I care about enough to … care about! Care for the land, the water, and all species including my fellow humans.

Ask yourself: Where is your family located. Your friends; your loved ones; anyone and anything you LOVE (including some place where you feel an attachment to the terrain, the trees, the nonhuman inhabitants). Move there. Or, talk with your loved ones and make a plan together. Community is so important, and we in the rich nations have tended to overlook that. I could never be happy just being in a safe place (whatever that is anymore) on my own, or with just one other person. Need community.

And regarding food issues: Granted, coastal areas often have poor soils and a lack of fresh water. But here, we have good ag land just a couple miles inland; we just have to stop the deforestation and stop trashing our waterways.

And, for now, we still have ample rainfall. If we don’t stop the deforestation, rainfall patterns will be disrupted (it is starting already, quite severe in the spring and early fall each year). The coastal vegetation that used to catch moisture and contribute to rainfall has almost all been removed. And, an “aesthetic” of excessive mowing and “cleaning up” our soft shaggy coastal dune landscapes has taken over.

I also keep trying to encourage more people to collect rainwater. It’s a habit we need. I collect it in the wet season (which is increasingly narrow and extreme), and use it through the dry season.

Also note: Humans can grow food in the most extreme circumstances, just about anywhere you can imagine, as long as there is water. The main ingredient in food resilience is community. Everyday people have to band together on the neighborhood, city, regional level. Working with our local governments to the extent that government is willing; otherwise just moving forward together on a grassroots level.

Further Reading:

Temporary Empty Shelves Are Not a Supply Chain Crisis, It is Important to Understand the Difference (Sundance; theconservativetreehouse.com): “These notes … are all precursors that show significant stress in the supply chain. Once these issues are consistently visible, we are going to descend into food instability very quickly, sector by sector, category by category.” Good rundown; go read. The part about the milk jugs just blows me away. Stories of Main Street being gutted and “improved” by Wall Street.

I Lived Through Collapse. America Is Already There (indie.ca; medium.com): “I lived through the end of a civil war — I moved back to Sri Lanka in my twenties, just as the ceasefire fell apart. Do you know what it was like for me? Quite normal. I went to work, I went out, I dated. This is what Americans don’t understand. They’re waiting to get personally punched in the face while ash falls from the sky. That’s not how it happens.”