As a Michigan native, there are only two things that I have “always said” about my home state. First: that I believe our state’s nickname should be changed from “The Great Lakes State” to “The Weather State” because, while the great lakes have a profound effect on our shape and secondarily on our climate, it is the crazy weather in this state that so profoundly shapes the experience of living here day to day. Second, a belief I began to form in High School as Katrinas and Ivans and Indonesian Tsunamis and Icelandic volcanoes reared their ugly heads, that is: nothing bad ever happens here. Obviously, that is an exaggeration and a basely incorrect statement… but think about it. We are in the perfect location here in The Mitten to avoid most of the catastrophe that Mother Nature unleashes on this world, and for that matter, this hemisphere; a climatological “goldilocks zone” if you will.
To further confirm my beliefs, I came across this ranking in an independent financial blog that lists the ten larger size cites in the nation that are safest from natural disasters; Grand Rapids, MI (my hometown) was ranked number four after factoring in the instance of violent crimes per 100,000 people. There are many similar lists and rankings all over the internet and none of them list the same top ten, but ALL of them contain a great number of cities from the Midwest and New England.
This got me thinking about the future, especially after viewing An Inconvenient Truth in class several weeks back. I want to avoid the question of whether or not Gore’s claims in the film or overblown or exaggerated or if global warming is as immediate a danger as the film claims it is; to me, it has little relevance. What all scientists seem to agree on in one way or another is this: whether the human race is causing it or not, that the oceans’ water levels will continue steadily to rise as time goes on and arctic ice melts… and beyond the problem this could pose for coastal cities, this rise could also potentially have a large impact on global weather and climate patterns.
Now, as this projection of the new world map without ice caps shows, Michigan is still sitting high and dry, the Great Lakes obviously sitting high enough in elevation to escape the flooding occurring at the oceans’ coasts. Now I allow that the map will likely not look like this for a long time, if ever, but ice is melting and the effects of this will surely be felt in some magnitude as the process continues ongoing. If Michigan is indeed the “The Weather State” then won’t it feel the effects of potentially shifting global weather patterns? I’d have to say “yes, probably” but I don’t know if that makes me wish I was living anywhere else when all this starts hitting the fan in however many years from now. I would assume that weather here will likely become more extreme, as it will likely everywhere in the world. Michigan has the second highest occurrence of lightning related deaths in the nation and the state is over fifty percent forested so it’s natural to assume wildfires will increase in severity and frequency as well as the property damage and death tolls that go along with it. Perhaps tornados will happen with more frequency and winters may be harder, but even given all that, I just can’t see it getting much worse here in Michigan than anywhere else in the nation or the world as these global weather patterns begin to potentially shift and change. If this was the only thing affecting my decision, I don’t think I’d ever leave.