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Mark Gongloff

Can California Buy Its Way Out of Climate Disasters?

The only way to cope with increasingly severe weather will be to move away from vulnerable areas.

Treacherous coastlines.

Treacherous coastlines.

Photographer: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Like it or not, adapting to climate change will involve human beings retreating from places the weather has made too dangerous for habitation. This will be easier to accomplish in some places than others. On the most difficult end of the scale sits California. 

In a matter of weeks, the state has gone from being perilously dry to drowning in “atmospheric rivers” of water falling from the sky, in a series of storms likely to continue for another week. Mud and rocks are pouring down hillsides that recent wildfires swept clean of protective vegetation. Storm surges are flooding the coast.