Trouble in paradise

Waiting for these

Have you ever lived in a place that’s often the punchline of a joke? I have, for most of my life. It never bothered me or my friends much, though we sometimes would chat about unlikely scenarios that would transform Buffalo into a glamorous place to live. Like turning it into the Venice of the North by getting rid of our seldom-used metro line down Main Street, making it into a canal. That was just silly. But it turns out that the waterways we already have, combined with climate change, could, down the line, make Buffalo one of the most desirable places to live in the US, without us having to do anything.

According to Harvard scientists, areas near fresh water—but away from regions prone to heatwaves, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods—will be attractive bastions of livability if the worst happens, as every study (even those done by a science-denying White House)  says it will. The “worst” is defined as an (approx) 7 degree rise in global temperatures by 2100—by the way, studies also say a 2.7 degree rise by 2030, which will be bad enough—causing smothering heat and covering parts of the country with water. Corresponding disaster will ensue worldwide. In the US, the idea is to head north of the 42nd parallel. Most of the coastline is dicey, thanks to rising sea levels (six feet by the end of the century), and unbearable heat rules out the Southeast and the Southwest. Even if municipalities take drastic measures to protect their regions from nature, the enormous cost of that becomes another factor of unlivability. Better to be in a place where such measures are unnecessary.

Yes, instead of being regarded as a blizzard-ridden, chicken-wing-eating, football-game-losing wasteland, Buffalo may turn out to be the promised land in some kind of horrific dystopian scenario that should exist only in sci-fi movies, but, thanks to our criminal abuse of the natural environment—abuse endorsed and encouraged by our government—is now reality. That is, until the hordes escaping less fortunate regions invade and destroy us, as they surely will.

What got me pondering all this is the fact that my bulb suppliers have decided to believe the new zone map and I won’t be getting my tulips for another week or so. So, I’m sitting here with nothing to do in perfect weather for bulb planting. I need my 900plus bulbs, if only to stop me from thinking.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. I am so glad in the midst of this impending climate apocalypse that you are reminding us of what is really important.

  2. I’m not familiar with the new zone map, but I can tell you that the growing year in my neck of the woods (north central Oregon) has changed. It’s not even just the length of the season, it’s the breeding cycles of bugs, the timing of migratory birds. I would say this became noticeable to me over the last 5 years. I hope you will continue to bring this issue up. I think it’s important for people to speak up about what they are noticing around them in their local environment, because sadly, that’s what people listen to, not reports from afar by bureaucratic entities.

  3. I have certainly noticed the changes in my garden here in Minnesota, and I think our state will also become a place of refuge for those fleeing the coasts and the south. Praying that the blue wave will take climate change deniers out of office.

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