Over the past several years, you've probably seen headlines highlighting remarkable weather events around the world. From powerful storms to intolerable droughts, the planet is sending a clear message that climate change is upon us. And while we can take action to minimize our carbon footprints, it's becoming increasingly important to learn to adapt to (and protect ourselves from) the new normal. Keep reading to learn about climate resilience, including what it means, what it looks like, and why it matters.
What Does Climate Resilience Mean?
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions defines this term as "the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to hazardous events, trends, or disturbances related to climate." In a nutshell, being climate resilient means planning for changing weather patterns and events and developing the tools to cope with them.
Of course, cutting carbon emissions is crucial to minimizing the impacts of climate change. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, by cutting emissions by 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, we can achieve a safer climate future. But reducing heat-trapping emissions right now won't reverse the damage that's already been done, and carbon pollution can remain in the atmosphere for decades. So, a two-step approach that emphasizes minimizing future harm while adapting to existing harm is key.
What Does Climate Resilience Look Like?
Resilience planning depends on local, national, and international governments. It requires a wide-ranging group of engaged citizens, government officials, organizations, and businesses to implement adaptation plans to mitigate risks to people's lives, their property, and the economy due to climate change. Fortunately, many entities across the globe have already begun implementing essential strategies with success.
Some examples of climate-resilient strategies include:
- Prioritizing aid for communities at high risk (physically and economically) of extreme weather events
- Continuing to increase rooftop solar installations (rooftop solar capacity grew by 49 percent in 2022)
- Investing in infrastructure and implementing stronger building codes in communities threatened by rising sea levels
- Prioritizing natural cooling solutions and mobilizing communities to combat rising temperatures
- Providing government financing so states and businesses can receive green bonds and climate funds
- Building a rim around a local lake to prevent flooding
- Planting seagrass to keep dunes intact
Why Does Climate Resilience Matter?
Increasing wildfires, longer droughts, hotter temperatures, rising sea levels, and more powerful hurricanes threaten public health and safety and affect the way communities live across the globe. This is especially true for marginalized and low-income communities, who are more impacted by extreme weather events.
The better we can prepare for these climate-related events, the more quickly we can recover and rebuild. Of course, this approach is only sustainable in the long run if we reduce greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate further harm to the environment.
Areas Impacted by Climate Change
Building resilience can help individuals and communities prepare for the effects of climate change, including:
- Food supply: Drought and floods compromise crop yield.
- Electrical grid: Frequent heat waves lead to high demand and power outages.
- Health and safety: Extreme weather events cause overtaxed health-care systems and strained supply chains.
- City infrastructure: Roads, bridges, buildings, and utilities become vulnerable due to increasing storms and extreme temperatures.
- Economy: Jobs and businesses face challenges due to closures, supply chain issues, and dwindling natural resources.
Working Together to Build Climate Resilience Solutions
Robust climate action programs can help reinforce all of these systems. Some of the world's largest governments have already enacted strategic resilience solutions to address each region's unique spectrum of needs. In the US, 19 states currently have resilience plans with more in development. Rhode Island, for example, considers rising sea levels in its special area management plan for coastal cities. New Orleans's city resilience plans include new strategies for public works, zoning, and updated budgeting for extreme weather events.
Many businesses and organizations are also practicing climate resilience. For example, Toms of Maine is committed to supporting organizations and individuals who are innovating solutions to the Earth's most pressing challenges. The good news is that people around the world are taking action right now to adapt to the effects of climate change. While there's no overnight solution, resilience strategies can help protect the planet and its people.
Want to learn more about climate action efforts? Learn how The Climate Initiative is empowering the next generation through climate change education.
The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.
Why It's Good
With so many robust climate resilience plans in action across the globe, there's hope for a brighter future.