Europe: looking for a climate proof housing location

Of course, it makes some sense, improving our house with some insulation, a heat pump and so on (or not, I’ll come back to that soon!) , but if you could choose where to live or build, or move, where would you go, given that you want to be prepared for all the climate problems that are coming our way? Where can you live Climate proof so to speak?

A few episodes ago I already explored where to build or not in the Netherlands, but even then it was clear that the Netherlands is not the best choice, as one of the most densely populated and endangered wealthy countries. [x]

But where then? Before we start looking, lets first establish some criteria for such a location, fit for the future? And by future, I mean a location where the grandchildren can still grow up. So until the end of the century at least.

To start with, it would have to be at least + 8 meters above sea level (the worst IPCC scenario). But the closer to the coast the higher. If you end up with a rocky coastline as a location, based on the desired dike height for calamities that occur once in a few thousand years, it will have to be about 10 meters, about the height of the recently raised Afsluitdijk in the Netherlands.

Next we must assume that society as it currently functions will collapse, the consumption of energy and materials is not sustainable. On the one hand the climate effects are still intensifying, (the transition is produced with fossils) on the other hand a battle for raw materials will occur, in fact its already underway. Continents and countries will be thrown back on themselves, world trade collapses. Societies in general collapse one day anyway, as they all always do,[2] which means, above all, that we are thrown back on ourselves. In other words: space and resources must be nearby.

Water of course , preferably groundwater from a uncontaminated place (not near industry). Some open water nearby is also useful, as secondary water, possibly for cooling or otherwise. If that has a connection to a river and sea that could be very useful, as connection for future transportation options. After all, before the fossil revolution, water routes were the best option. Its hould be a rian rivers of course, because glaciers will dry up. But then it still has to rain in that location, of course. Surely that assumes some altitude nearby, somewhat mountainous, where the clouds rain out.

Obviously a location in a not too densely populated country, so that there is still a relatively large amount of space. With therefore a reasonable amount of land available, for materials, wood and other regrowables, and food of course. Possibly also some wood for fuel, at least for cooking.

But most important: no very cold winter, and no hot summer…. Also not in future… So between maximum minima of 0 and maximum extremes of 35 degrees is manageable, even without heating: with a well-insulated room where you stay in pairs and windows on the sun side, it can be done without heating, examples show [3]. And als detailed in a way that keeps the summer sun out and can be cross ventilated during night , that has been shown to be sufficient as a cooling option at 35 degrees,at least at my home.

And initially, I think of Europe as a search area. But where then do you end up? Not in the Netherlands, as I said, so that will be abroad zomewhere. But north, east or south? [4]

At first glance, the North seems the best option. Temperatures will be more moderate, it’s almost all close to the sea, and forests enough. At least, not Denmark, but southern Sweden and Norway seems like an option. Space, forest, and water no problem, neither is altitude, and not too densely populated. The food growing season is not that long, but in the south of Sweden the first vineyards have already been spotted, so there should be enough to grow through the winter.

Unfortunately, the area does include 1 very big uncertainty: the warm Gulf Stream is under pressure. This is one of the so-called tipping points in climate forecasts. If that stops, the temperature in Northern Europe will drop a few degrees… And then you will have a much shorter growing season (food) and especially a very cold winter and thus a high energy demand, and fossil fuel is no longer possible. In that case, by the way, the Netherlands will not be very handy either, because here, too, there will be a difference of a few degrees, and then we will be back to the winters of the early 20th century. Moreover, there are still doubts about the ozone hole around the North Pole, so that is an additional uncertainty. [5]

The East then ? Germany, Czech Republic, Poland ? Not too far, anyway, because winters can still be very cold there for now, with that land climate. Or you run into Putin. Although I have speculated before about Siberia as the new Wild East etc, with that melting permafrost. But then is seems there are some political problems to clear up first. By the way, those countries also have that risk of effects of the Gulf Stream.

No, I tend to go further south. But not too far. Southern Italy and Spain are already facing the first problems, wine growers are moving north, in Spain to the Pyrenees, which is a little less hot and has more water. This is also a sign: that you have to look a little higher! Somewhat hilly or mountainous.

Central Europe so? The south side of the Alps doesn’t seem a good plan to me, it can go either way there in terms of temperature, and by the way northern Italy is struggling more and more with severe drought, not nice either. On the other hand, the northern side of the Alps is very far from a sea connection. So then, the western side of the Alps?

I once, long ago, calculated what geographically was the economic center of Europe and arrived at Amiens. Crossroads of trade routes, not too far from the sea. But that’s not very hilly of course, though it will also have shifted more eastern now, after the Berlin wall fell, and after Brexit. So more east direction alps we pass the Loire and Meuse as rain rivers in France, but these are in more densely populated areas. So even further east, then we encounter: Vosges , Jura, areas that also have rain rivers: the river of the Saone which itself then merges into the Rhone. And so is a connection to the sea, if a long one. But definitely an option, not too densely populated, a bit at altitude, and reasonably fertile, edges of alps so it does seem to keep raining there from time to time. And importantly, land or a house is affordable there too. It is a candidate.

It could be that the Slovenia/Croatia region is another option, I need to look into that more closely. (Although a quick check and I see that Ljubljana seems to become the city with the highest temperature rise in the world…! [6])

But that’s about it, unless we look outside Europe: at least not in a broad band around the equator, say between North Africa and South Africa, or Mexico and Brazil, in that band there are a lot of tipping points, and climate reversals, its very uncertain what will happen there, and anyway basically already too warm. That doesn’t leave much options in southern hemisphere, or maybe New Zealand? That seems like an option, can’t immediately think why not. Besides, they play the best Rugby there …(.) But that looks like a bit of a flight to the end of the world …

I still think , next holiday I will go look around for options, in the Vosges/Jura region …



[1] Where to build in NL :

[2] Before the Collapse.  Ugo Bardi ,  A Guide to the Other Side of Growth, ISBN 978-3-030-29038-2

[3] Housing without heating, 2226:

[4] climate changes Europa:

[5] Tipping points:

[6] Cities: