Knoxville and East Tennessee considered ‘climate haven’

Low risk of natural disasters is one reason why people are moving to Knoxville, according to experts.
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 6:29 PM EDT|Updated: May. 9, 2022 at 6:32 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The view of the Smoky Mountains and downtown Knoxville’s attractions aren’t the only things making the city a place people want to live. According to experts, it’s also for the low risk of natural disasters happening.

Dr. Rachel Lloyd, who researched climate change at UT, said it’s all luck.

“We’re in a tiny little eddie of the swirling of all of these affects,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd said East Tennessee doesn’t see a lot of natural disasters including tornadoes, hurricanes, severe floods and wildfires.

Even with two since 2016, Lloyd said that won’t change anything just yet.

“We’re going to get fewer of them or less frequent ones or less severe ones. It’s a nice place to be,” Lloyd said.

Low risk for natural disasters made the area attractive to live in, according to experts. Lloyd was more concerned about the coastal areas most as the sea level continues to rise.

“If you’re living in a place with really a lot of big episodic changes from climate change that are causing natural disasters and you feel like moving anyway then Knoxville seems like it’d be a great place to move to,” Lloyd said.

Climate change wasn’t the only factor that played into this climate haven. It’s also how cities work to reduce carbon emission.

In Knoxville, city sustainability director Brian Blackmon said the city plans to reduce it 80% by 2050.

“It’s very feasible. The projections look good. Unfortunately, it’s going to take some time,” Blackmon said.

Parts of the plan included making all KAT buses electric and offering free electric vehicle charging stations.

“We’re very proud to be able to make a difference,” Blackmon said.

Blackmon also said the city used the most solar energy in East Tennessee.

Another factor of climate haven was affordable living. In a recent study from U.S. News and World Report, Knoxville ranked 41st in best places to live. The city’s cost of living and median home price were below the national average.

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