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Yvonne Abraham

How to survive climate change: six easy steps

Water from Boston Harbor flooded Long Wharf during an October high tide.
Water from Boston Harbor flooded Long Wharf during an October high tide.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/File

Happy holidays, we’re all doomed!

Scientists keep telling us that climate change could devastate our environment, economy, and health by the end of this century. And we’re doing less than nothing about it. Our government — led by a know-nothing who thinks global warming is a hoax because Thanksgiving was cold — has let fossil fuel foxes make henhouse policy, dismantled already weak environmental regs, and opened up millions of acres of pristine public land for drilling.

Even before this, it was going to take a miracle to pull us back from the brink. Now, the worst-case scenario seems just about inevitable.


But I’m here to help, friends. Here are a few easy steps you can take to protect yourself from climate change, since your leaders won’t.

You’re welcome!

Relocate immediately.

If you live by the ocean, find some sucker to buy your house. According to a report by 13 federal agencies released over Thanksgiving, sea level rise and more extreme weather events threaten $1 trillion in coastal property, especially on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts — 2.4 million homes deluged by 2100, by one estimate, 89,000 of them in Massachusetts. And while we’re at it, you might want to get out of places that are increasingly prone to wildfires, hurricanes, droughts, and weather-compromised water supplies, too. Sorry, all of Hawaii, it’s not looking good for you. And if you happen to be reading this in a poor, unstable, low-lying, or dry country where a chunk of your population depends on the land for survival — that’s you, Chad, Bangladesh, Niger, Tuvalu, and the Maldives, among others — find another country to call home. Not this one. The know-nothing says no.

Change jobs.


For many of you, it’s time to find another line of work. The federal report estimate annual losses of as much as two billion labor hours — $160 billion in lost wages — by 2090 if we don’t get a handle on temperature extremes. Farming will be misery: More droughts, soil-compromising storms, and longer growing seasons mean yields could fall to 1980s levels by the middle of this century. The fishing industry will feel pain in Hawaii and the Gulf of Mexico, as will the tourism industry in the Southeast. And the ski industry? Ha! So go do something else, OK?

Be rich.

How else are you going to get through this? Moving to New Zealand is expensive, after all. And if you stay here, more extreme weather, damaged infrastructure, and broken supply chains will make just about everything, including food, more expensive. The November report warns that climate change could knock 10 percent off the size of the American economy, so you’re going to need a nice big cushion to ease the pain. And if you can’t be rich, make sure you’re not old, a child, black, brown or an indigenous person, all of whom are more likely to be hurt by the coming disaster. Act now!

Reduce your need for clean water and air.

More flooding, saltwater contamination, and shrinking snowpacks could compromise water supplies in the Southwest, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. The Midwest is also at risk. So it would be best if you didn’t depend on water quite as much. And air — do you really need so much? The federal report says more than 100 million people in the United States already breathe unhealthy air. It’s only going to get worse.


Don’t get attached to each other.

In a warmer world, more of us are going to die of heat-related causes. The report says there could be as many as 2,300 more premature deaths a year by 2090 in the Northeast alone. Globally, climate change is expected to cause about 250,000 extra deaths per year between 2030 and 2050 from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress, according to the World Health Organization. Rising temperatures also mean more exposure to insects that transmit diseases, especially in the Southeast. Stock up on nets and repellent along with your boats, folks.

Avoid having children and grandchildren.

That way, you’ll never have to explain to them how you let this happen.

Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham can be reached at yvonne.abraham@globe.com and on Twitter @GlobeAbraham