Climate change symposium to examine impacts of climate refugees moving to the Northwest

There’s a long-running joke that harkens back to a comment made by former Oregon Gov. Tom McCall in a speech in the 1970s, and it touches on Oregonian’s love-hate relationship with newcomers and visitors. Usually, it involves a sentiment like: Thanks for visiting Oregon! Now go home.

Lately, you can hear longtime Portlanders and Oregonians expressing a similar sentiment regarding the droves of new residents who came to the metro area (and keep coming, actually) as Portland morphed into the hipster capital du jour. It usually is accompanied by complaints about traffic, the skyrocketing cost of living and in-fill development.

Someone in Portland doesn't like infill development. Check out the graffiti spray-painted on the building under construction. Susannah L. Bodman | Science In Portland

Someone in Portland really doesn’t like infill development. Check out the graffiti spray-painted on this building under construction in the city’s Sellwood neighborhood in June 2016. Susannah L. Bodman | Science In Portland

Well, the influx of newbies may only increase and the complaints only get louder as climate change impacts drive more people to move and seek refuge in the Northwest, a region that’s projected to see relatively mild impacts compared to other parts of the U.S. (However, if you’re involved in the Northwest shellfish industry, those effects won’t — and actually already don’t — feel that mild).

To get ahead of that influx, discussions are beginning about how to take climate-related migration into account when doing long-term planning on transportation, utilities, land use and other public services.

One forum for discussion is coming to Portland later this month (June 2016).

The symposium “The Winds of Change? Exploring Climate Change-Driven Migration and Related Impacts in the Pacific Northwest” will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 24 at two Portland locations.

The morning portion of the symposium is open to the public (the rest is an invitation-only technical session) and will be held in the Billy Frank Jr. Conference Center at Ecotrust, 721 N.W. Ninth Ave.

Titled “Providing Guidance Now and Direction for the Future: The Climate Migration Symposium,” the public portion will run from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and is free.

Among the concerns organizers expressed in preparing for the potential climate-induced migration is “a scarcity of regionally specific research” that provides limited guidance in long-term planning processes.

To attend the public portion of the symposium and perhaps share your input, you’ll need to register before June 21.

For more information, go to the symposium’s web page.

The even is hosted by Portland State University’s Population Research Center, the PSU Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies and the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group.

Susannah L. Bodman
Twitter: @Sciwhat
Facebook: Sciwhat.Science

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