What happened?

The Economist just released its latest Liveability Index of the most and least attractive cities in the world. Vienna, Melbourne and Osaka top this list for now, but it is questionable how long these cities will maintain their high rankings. In the coming decades, climate change may render these cities far less attractive and bolster the popularity of places that are currently quite unappealing. In anticipation of these shifts, Medium offers some speculation as to which places may experience an uptick in attractiveness. This alternative list features unfamiliar towns in Canada, Northern Siberia and Greenland.

What does this mean?

Towns in the far North and South are currently held back by an unfavorable climate which, for instance, makes it difficult to produce food. As a result, these places are not only too cold for most of us, but they are also too expensive to be viable options for human habitation. In fact, the only reason that many of these locales exist is due to their proximity to some natural resource like gas or oil. In the future, places like Egvekinot in Siberia will experience rising temperatures and will therefore become more hospitable to agricultural production. In addition, they may also become important maritime hubs as Arctic shipping routes become more navigable. Other places in northern Europe, the U.S. and southern Canada may not experience such dramatic shifts in their own climate but may become places of refuge for those who have fled their own overheated towns to the South.

What’s next?

Climate change is already affecting livability in places around the equator as well as in low-lying coastal areas such as Bangladesh, the Maldives, Jakarta and South Florida. At the local level, those who can afford it have already begun moving to safer parts of coastal cities. This micro-migration leads to so-called “climate gentrification”. At the global level, mass migration to more livable places also seems inevitable and could very well lead to a cascade effect of people moving north (or south). Eventually, this cascade would also shift people towards previously sparsely populated areas and make for new centers of commerce.