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Toby Barlow Headshot

"The Most Dangerous City?" Really?

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I noticed that some entity called the American Society of Criminology just named Detroit "the nation's most dangerous city." They based their report on recent FBI crime statistics, though the FBI quickly announced that such reports offer only "simplistic and or incomplete analyses."

I actually live in the heart of downtown Detroit and frankly -- no matter what a group like the A.S.C. says-- I'm now thinking this is one of the safest, most secure places on earth.

In just the last month I've watched comfortable neighborhoods in Orange County and Malibu nearly burn to the ground. I've read long, excellent pieces in The New York Times about how strained water supplies threaten California, Arizona, and Nevada. I've been in Atlanta, where nobody seemed too aware that they were in the middle of the worst drought of the century (this was before the governor was praying for rain on the statehouse steps). And I've traveled to the idyllic paradise of South Beach where every high tide the sea waters now flood certain streets -- making one wonder if that nutty "oceans will rise" prediction might already be coming true.

Meanwhile, back here in Detroit, Michigan's Great Lakes, though also shrinking, still promise to provide a reassuring supply of fresh water, and our location, well above sea level and -- bizarrely enough -- somewhat north of Canada, makes it as good a place as any to weather the coming climate change.

So take that column that adds up the local robberies and break-ins and add to it the crimes we have all been collectively committing against the environment and then look at the places that are only just now beginning to pay the price. A lot of sunny day real estate that once looked quite cozy suddenly seems a whole lot scarier.

While you might have issues with my simplistic and incomplete analysis, in the end it's clear that Detroit comes with an ecosystem which, unlike pretty much everything west of Denver and south of Memphis, has the rainfall and temperatures to naturally accommodate a comfortable human existence. And actually, that's probably why they built it here in the first place, because -- in some deeper, more fundamental sense -- it really is safe.