The great displacement Climate change and the next American migration

Jake Bittle

Book - 2023

"The untold story of climate migration-the personal stories of those experiencing displacement, the portraits of communities being torn apart by disaster, and the implications for all of us as we confront a changing future"--

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2nd Floor EXPRESS shelf 363.73874/Bittle Checked In
2nd Floor 363.73874/Bittle Checked In
2nd Floor 363.73874/Bittle Checked In
2nd Floor New Shelf 363.73874/Bittle (NEW SHELF) Due Dec 22, 2023
New York : Simon & Schuster 2023.
Main Author
Jake Bittle (author)
First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
Physical Description
xxi, 345 pages ; 23 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 291-336) and index.
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. The End of the Earth
  • Climate Change and the Age of Permanent Disaster Big Pine Key, Florida
  • Chapter 2. After the Flood
  • Managed Retreat and its Victims Kinston, North Carolina
  • Chapter 3. Burnout
  • Wildfires, Insurance, and the Housing Crisis Santa Rosa, California
  • Chapter 4. The Story of the Verdins
  • Coastal Erosion and Cultural Extinction Pointe-Au-Chien, Louisiana
  • Chapter 5. Frankenstein City
  • Flood Control and Urban Inequality Houston, Texas
  • Chapter 6. Why Should This a Desert Be?
  • Drought, Agriculture, and the Era of Expansion Pinal County, Arizona
  • Chapter 7. Bailout
  • Rising Seas and Falling Markets Norfolk, Virginia
  • Chapter 8. Where Will We Go?
  • A New American Geography
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Index
Review by Choice Review

This is a cautionary tale of epic proportions. As the subtitle makes clear, the text is about climate change and its potential to cause mass migration in the US. Although it is a disaster book, it is also a book of hope. Weaving together stories of tragedy, loss, and devastation, climate and energy journalist Bittle offers a desperate plea for reducing carbon emissions, creating reform policies, investing in post-disaster aid, and, above all, for everyone to take responsibility for climate change. While climate change is a global problem, Bittle focuses his text on a selection of people and places located in the US, specifically in the states of Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. Thus, the book is an illustration of how to think globally and act locally, an imperative that ought to be picked up throughout the globe, and not just in book form. By highlighting the impact on specific people and places, Bittle makes the abstract aspect of climate change more concrete and accessible. This is no easy task, and Bittle should be commended for treating such an important and pressing issue in a digestible way. The book is very well researched and also very well written. As such, it deserves a wide audience. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. --Patrick Gamsby, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

This multifaceted examination of the effects of climate change considers numerous U.S. communities that have been wiped out by changing weather patterns and foretells a future filled with additional displacements. Environmental journalist Bittle effectively uses a combination of science reporting and stories of individual human experience to explain the fates of entire towns deemed uninhabitable, either by government agencies or by the stark realities of insurmountable loss. He provides vivid descriptions and accessible technical explanations, but the most powerful parts of his narrative detail the lives of individuals. He includes the histories of neighborhoods, why people settled there and the communities they established, and follows through as these displaced people attempt to build new lives. Throughout, Bittle acknowledges the inevitability of climate change but also addresses the effects of confounding, counterproductive policies put in place by FEMA and other government initiatives, not to mention those wrought by insurance and mortgage agencies as well as big agriculture. He poses disturbing questions: where are all these uprooted people supposed to go, and what demands will climate migration place on existing infrastructures? Presenting powerful and moving evidence, the author ends with a plea for comprehensive environmental policy change and urgent action.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Journalist Bittle debuts with a captivating exploration of how climate change will "reshape the demographic geography of the United States." Drawing on interviews, Bittle vividly documents the experiences of people impacted by hurricanes, wildfires, soil erosion, flooding, and other disasters. In Big Pine Key, Fla., Patrick Garvey recounts how his tropical fruit grove and nursery were decimated by Hurricane Irma, while residents of Kinston, N.C., which suffered two catastrophic floods in the span of four years in the 1990s, shed light on the "sense of mourning" that comes with abandoning neighborhoods in a process known as "managed retreat." Elsewhere, Bittle spotlights the experiences of white Cajuns and Indigenous tribespeople in the Louisiana bayou to show "how much culture and history stands to be lost when movement becomes a necessity." Throughout, Bittle analyzes how economic disparity, institutional racism, and other factors contribute to the uneven impact of climate disasters, from which some can easily rebound while others find themselves in "a churning vortex of displacement and instability." The foregrounding of individual voices adds to the book's power and sense of urgency, and Bittle is an expert explainer of policy matters. This is a captivating look at a pressing issue. Agent: Sarah Fuentes, Fletcher and Co. (Feb.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Journalist Bittle humanizes the plight of domestic climate migrants in this audio treatment of his portentous and urgent debut. In a series of location-focused chapters, Bittle weaves the gripping personal stories of those displaced by disaster with sparkling descriptions of the sometimes abstruse local and national policies that often lead to perverse outcomes. His rigorous reporting gives voice to a fruit grower displaced in the hurricane-ravaged Florida Keys, the angry citizens of an entire town bought out because of flood risk, and disheartened renters priced out by the destruction of Northern California wildfires. Bittle's choice to let the stories of these victims drive his narrative makes this a compelling listen, and narrator Matt Godfrey's reedy rasp is well suited to the serious subject. Subchapters and brisk pacing will make this a popular choice for listening on the go. VERDICT The audience for Bittle's important book goes well beyond policy wonks or climate activists, and this gripping audio is the perfect way to enjoy this notable book. Recommend to readers of Dahr Jamail's The End of Ice or Elizabeth A. Rush's Rising.--Mark Swails

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

An urgent, perceptive analysis of how climate change is already changing where Americans live. Though most readers worry about climate change, many assume that it will arrive in full force later in the century and wreak greatest havoc elsewhere in the world. They will quickly learn their error as journalist Bittle delivers expert accounts of seven humanitarian disasters, all within the U.S. and currently in progress. Only a few feet above sea level, "the thousand-odd islands that make up the Florida Keys are the first flock of canaries in the coal mine of climate change." Illustrating with vivid stories of individuals who love the region despite its frequent hurricanes and floods, Bittle identifies Hurricane Irma (2017) as the tipping point. Its massive destruction of housing and infrastructure overwhelmed relief efforts, many of which are still in progress. Oceans are also eating away the Louisiana coastline, which affects not just New Orleans and other cities, but also many of the "self-sufficient communities" that used to live in the now-vanishing bayous. Bittle mentions New York City's encounter with Hurricane Sandy in passing, but he devotes an eye-opening chapter to Norfolk, Virginia, a coastal city whose streets flood at high tide. "The gradual blurring of the line between land and water, a process that was supposed to take centuries or even millennia, was happening fast enough that you could watch it with your naked eyes," writes the author. There is cold comfort in the obligatory how-to-fix-it chapter. Even though "more than six million people in the United States lost their homes to climate disasters between 2016 and 2020," people continue to move to climate-endangered regions. Most experts agree on a plan of action, but it requires decisive government action and spending money today to save it in future decades. Given the current political climate, this action may not be swift or expansive enough. A simultaneously fascinating and unnerving report brilliantly delivered. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.