Summer Reading: 8 Select Climigration Voices

Staying up to date with the latest news and thoughts about managed retreat is difficult. To help individuals, communities, and policy makers find the most current reporting and scholarship on managed retreat, climigration.org curates two lists in its News and Reports sections. The pieces gathered on these pages since 2016 have included some outstanding work by journalists and authors who focus their work on climigration, whether from the climate desk, their office in the economics department, or a law firm.

We have highlighted a few authors and one or more of their hallmark contributions below. Please take a look and let us know who we are missing!


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The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World (2017)

By Jeff Goodell, contributing editor for Rolling Stone. @jeffgoodell

“We are already engineering the Earth’s operating system by dumping billions of tons of greenhouse gases into it every year. We’re just doing it badly. Why not get good at it?” - The Water Will Come

Within the next century of sea level rise, massive migration will occur along the globe’s coasts. The Water Will Come peels out the scientific and personal implications of this through reporting from twelve different countries.

You can order The Water Will Come through Little, Brown and Company, Amazon, or at your local bookstore via Indiebound.


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Christopher Flavelle

Covers climate change and adaptation policy for Bloomberg. @cflav

America’s Last-Ditch Climate Strategy of Retreat Isn’t Going So Well (Bloomberg News, May 2, 2018). The glacial pace of Sidney, NY’s retreat is making some homeowners jump the gun.

The Jersey Shore Would Rather Fight Flooding with Walls than Retreat (Bloomberg Businessweek, May 4, 2017). As local officials push for retreat, some residents are pushing back.

Moody's Warns Cities to Address Climate Risks or Face Downgrades (Bloomberg News, November 29, 2017). Moody’s, one of the Big Three credit rating agencies, will begin to evaluate credit ratings for cities based on climate change preparedness, signaling massive implications for cities trying to balance the books on retreat as an adaptation measures.


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Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore (2018)

By Elizabeth Rush, an author and photographer currently teaching creative nonfiction at Brown University. @elizabetharush

“… My faith in natural processes, in the intricate systems of reciprocity that I was raised to believe keep nature from tilting out of balance, is lost. Gnawing uncertainty takes its place." - Rising

Visiting coastal cities in the US where climate change has wrought catastrophic damage, Rush relates the stories of those facing the life-changing choice of whether to leave or stay.

You can order Rising through Milkweed,  Amazon, or at your local bookstore via Indiebound.


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Retreat from a Rising Sea: Hard Choices in an Age of Climate Change (2016)

By Orrin H. Pilkey, Linda Pilkey-Jarvis, and Keith C. Pilkey.

Orrin is a professor of geology and earth science at Duke University. Linda is the Preparedness Section Manager for the Washington State Department of Ecology. Keith is an Administrative Law Judge for the Social Security Administration.

"Like it or not, we will retreat from most of the world’s nonurban shorelines in the not very distant future. Our retreat options can be characterized as either difficult or catastrophic." - Retreat from a Rising Sea

Focusing on policy, Retreat from a Rising Sea details the urban impacts of rising sea levels, and proposes avenues for meeting the needs of the most vulnerable communities.

You can order Retreat from a Rising Sea through Columbia University Press and Amazon.


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liz koslov

Assistant Professor of Justice and the Environment at UCLA Luskin School of Public Policy. @LizKoslov

"Although retreat, often called 'managed retreat,' remains on the fringes of conversations about climate change adaptation, people throughout the world are already moving away from the water out of fear or necessity... I contrast dominant official representations of retreat as marginal, unpopular, and infeasible with existing cases of collective movement away from rising waters that demonstrate just the opposite." - The Case for Retreat

Koslov’s upcoming book based on her dissertation, Retreat: Moving to Higher Ground in a Climate-Changed City, is an ethnographic account of communities relocating due to climate change. Her 2016 paper for Public Culture, “The Case for Retreat”, argued that retreat may actually be distinguished from forced and climate-induced relocation, as something voluntary and community oriented.


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Kivalina: A Climate Change Story (2011)

By Christine Shearer, energy researcher and analyst at Coal Swarm. @ChristineSheare

“Janet walked me toward the shoreline and told me Kivalina residents had been advised not to talk about the lawsuit. Great, I thought, wondering why I was there. But as Janet showed me the shrinking coastline and rapidly eroding bank, I realized the real issue for Kivalina is not necessarily the lawsuit. It is the relocation.” - Kivalina

Before the Alaskan Native community of Kivalina began its managed retreat, it was in the midst of a legal battle over fossil fuel companies’ impact on their homeland. This book delves into the history of misinformation around climate change and its impacts that complicate retreat’s discourse today, in Kivalina and generally.

You can order Kivalina: A Climate Change Story through Haymarket Books, Amazon, or at your local bookstore through Indiebound.


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The Law of Adaptation to Climate Change: United States and International Aspects (2012)

Edited by Katrina Fischer Kuh, Professor of Environmental Law at Elisabeth Haub School of Law, and Michael B. Gerrard, Director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and professor at Columbia Law School. @MichaelGerrard

“…There is now a growing realization that both mitigation and adaptation must be pursued vigorously. Society barely has the resources today to cope with the climate change that is already occurring … [This book] describes proposals to make the laws that deal with adaptation more rational and comprehensive.” - The Law of Adaptation to Climate Change

This book attempts a comprehensive look at the ways legal systems worldwide are trying to cope with climate change, and the difficulties of coordinating adaptation within a fractured legal approach to the issue. While not limited to the legalities of managed retreat, this text is a must-read for those interested in legal precedents for adaptation policies.

You can order The Law of Adaptation to Climate Change through the American Bar Association and Amazon.


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Managed retreat as a response to natural hazard risk (2017)

Published in Nature Climate Change, March 2017 by Miyuki Hino, Christopher B. Field and Katharine J. Mach.

Hino is a Ph.D. candidate in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University; Field is the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies at Stanford University; Mach is a Senior Research Scientist at Stanford University. @chrfield @katharine_mach

"The model establishes a foundation for understanding and anticipating case-specific complexities. It can be used to unpack the landscape of managed retreat and evaluate its potential future applications." - Managed Retreat as a Response to Natural Hazard Risk

This study evaluates the drivers, barriers, and outcomes of 27 cases of managed retreat in 22 countries, including the relocation of approximately 1.3 million people. The researchers developed a four quadrant model to organize cases based on who benefited from and who initiated retreat.

You can purchase the piece in Nature and read the New Yorker's coverage of the study here.

Know any great pieces or authors covering managed retreat?

Let us know!

Send your recommendation to:

ataylorhochberg@cbi.org