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Peer-Review Record

Climate Change Migration and the Economic Rebirth of Central Appalachia

Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(10), 462;
by Elizabeth C. Hirschman
Reviewer 1:
Reviewer 2: Anonymous
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(10), 462;
Submission received: 12 July 2022 / Revised: 15 September 2022 / Accepted: 15 September 2022 / Published: 10 October 2022

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

The article suggests an innovative approach to addressing future solutions for climate refugees.  It is noteworthy that Central Appalachia has been identified as a potential location for helping to sole the climate crisis.  However, there are major issues that need to be address before the article can be published in a social science journal.

The biggest problem is that the article is written from an entirely technocratic perspective.  Those not familiar with Appalachia might get the impression that region is currently devoid of human population.  There is virtually no discussion of how an influx of climate refugees might be received by and impact the current population of Appalachia.  This is a major oversight and stinks of the capitalist corporate colonialism that has exploited the region and its people for over a century.

The following statement within the paper is simply not true...with the demise of coal mining Appalachia has now recovered nearly all of its clean water resources along with its historical diversity of plant and animal life.  The hydrology and broader ecosystem have not been restored within Central Appalachia.  There is extensive literature on the lasting ecological impacts of deep mining and mountaintop removal (MTR) and the author should see and reference this literature.  The planting of grass on strip mining / MTR sites does not restore the ecology.

The authors mention flooding within Central Appalachia as a major threat -  mostly due to climate change.  However, flooding has also been exacerbated by MTR and broader destruction of the environment.  The authors should reference work on 'natural' hazards and political ecology to recognize this.

As indicated above, there is a long history of colonialism within Appalachia.  The authors should see and reference literature.  Start by looking at the Journal of Appalachian Studies.  How would the influx of climate refugees into Central Appalachia not be perceived as occupation by locals?  Might climate refugees further marginalize the existing population within the region?  Appalachians are already being gentrified by urbanites coming to recreate within the region.  From an Appalachian perspective, how is the authors proposal any different? There is much critical discussion around this issue that needs to take place within the article. 

The paper proposes an innovative energy solution with turbines.  Who will pay for it?  West Virginia, for example, remains one of the poorest states in the United States.  To assume West Virginian's - many of whom don't have access to clean water and no health care coverage - will support such development is naive.  There needs to be a broader discussion within the paper about how this plan might fit into a broader regional economic development strategy within Central Appalachia.  Should the Appalachian Regional Commission be promoting and potentially funding turbine hydro-energy energy within the region?


Author Response

Please see the attachment.

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

Reviewer 2 Report


(1)   The overall analysis of the full paper is not strong in its present form because it mainly provides information on available facts and data. Please improve the overall analysis quality of paper keeping in mind the study objectives.

(2)   Please try to improve the overall content of the abstract. Authors should add more sentences by including main findings and policy issues.

(3)   The present title of the paper is not matching with the study objective. Please try to provide a suitable alternative title without losing the original meaning.

(4)   Some website references have been given inside texts or paragraphs. Such references may be given as footnotes or endnotes.

(5)   Pictures or photographs should be numbered serially, say, Figure 1, Figure 2, …………Pictures are many and some pictures (particularly, photos of houses in section 4) are not required. Please give more emphasis on writing explanations and discussions rather than showing photos or pictures.

(6)    In Section 6 (discussion), discussions are in general nature (what is known to general public). Discussions should bring important policy implications based on your own findings of the study. Please bring discussions on how Central Appalachia can be a climate haven as per the study objective.

(7)   Every research study suffers from some limitations. What are the limitations of this present study? Authors should mention some of them.


Author Response

Please see the attachment.

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

Round 2

Reviewer 1 Report

The paper still needs to discuss how the hydro-electric energy generation units will be funded.  State funding, federal funding,...?  Should the ARC be considering this approach as part of their broader regional economic development strategy for Central Appalachia?  

Author Response

Second Set of Comments for Reviewer 1


     Thanks very much for the additional guidance! A section on costs – both international and in the US – for installing hydro-power generators has now been included in that discussion. Hydro-power is the most cost-effective, climate-safe means of producing electricity for areas having adequate water resources – which fortunately Central Appalachia is blessed with.


     Also thanks for reminding me to discuss funding options. There is now a discussion in the closing section of the manuscript which addresses the alternatives of Federal, Appalachian Regional Commission, State and Local funding for the climate-haven communities. This section describes both the positive and negative aspects of each funding source. Ideally, decision-makers at each of these four levels will grasp the necessity of immediate, competent funding action in order to get these communities built before it is too late. (But just in case they do not, I am very glad I already live here...)

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