Where Will The Cities Be?

The flooding of Hurricane Harvey continues to afflict the Houston area badly. The new monster Hurricane Irma has already heavily damaged Barbuda and is moving through the Caribbean threatening everything in its path. One thing in its path: Florida.

Last week I read an article that struck me because of it’s optimistic tone, which didn’t seem to fit the circumstances. It was headlined “Harvey Won’t Hold Back Houston.” One paragraph:

So Houston’s favorable population trends, key location and concentration of smart workers and knowledge-based industries indicate that it won’t suffer New Orleans’ fate. The city will emerge from Harvey’s devastation stronger than before.

The author bases this on an idea from Paul Krugman, about how geography dictates the location of cities. Full disclosure: I tried to read the Krugman presentation, and I didn’t grasp it enough to give an opinion. (It’s here–PDF)

But these hurricanes make me think about the future. If these become more regular, and if the sea level changes, that would be a change to the underlying geography. And so that would change the locations where cities would be expected to be.

In that situation, I suspect some cities would have the clout to resist geography’s dictates (e.g., NYC). But where will the rest of them be?