We keep hearing in the news that we as a society need to make major changes to how we're affecting our planet... or else. There are several popular strategies for combatting climate change – like using fewer disposable items, recycling as much as possible, or using public transportation. However, a less popular but incredibly important concept we should all be familiar with is climate resilience.
Climate resilience is a complex concept that puts millions of dollars at stake every year. At its core, though, climate resilience is simply the ability of a community to absorb and bounce back from climate-related events like hurricanes, droughts and wildfires, earthquakes, rising sea levels and crumbling coastlines, and more.
Here's everything you need to know about climate resilience in order to make yourself and your community a safer place.
Why Worry About Climate Resilience?
Climate resilience is the only way to protect yourself and your community from the ever-increasing dangers of climate change.
Only by understanding the dangers of climate change and how your community can fall victim to them can we all begin to take steps to protect ourselves and become more resilient.
The Dangers of a Changing Climate
Climate change has always posed a danger to society at large. In recent years, however, there has been a dramatic increase in natural disasters. In fact, of the 35 recorded Category 5 hurricanes since 1924, 10 of them – nearly 30% – have occurred in the last 20 years.
That's twice as many as what occurred during the previous 20 years between 1980 and 1999!
This rampant increase in natural disasters does not appear to be letting up either. Recent research strongly suggests that these trends will not only continue but will worsen over the next century.
Everyone has their own unique vision of the future – many of which have made their way into cautionary tales in novels and films. Unfortunately, NASA has its own data-backed vision of the future... and it's a bleak one.
By the turn of the century – in the year 2100 – NASA foresees hurricanes getting stronger, heatwaves and droughts occurring more often, and a rise in sea levels of up to 4 feet.
Communities Are Vulnerable
As the threat of climate-related crises grows, so too should awareness of the catastrophic damage that such a crisis would cause.
Each and every community in the United States is vulnerable to these crises in one way or another. However, the San Francisco Bay Area, in particular, is especially susceptible to natural disasters.
The San Francisco Bay Area is no stranger to natural disasters – specifically earthquakes. The Bay Area faced structure-toppling and bridge-breaking tremors in 1906 and 1989. The city sits just above the San Andreas Fault and, unfortunately, many structures in the Bay Area remain ill-equipped for another major earthquake.
California State University, East Bay, located in Hayward, California, is particularly vulnerable. The library, which is one of the busiest places on campus, would be unable to withstand a 6.0-magnitude earthquake, according to The Pioneer.
Fortunately, a new building that will replace the library and will be more quake-resistant is currently under construction.
Climate Resilience in the Community
Our communities are extremely vulnerable to the widespread dangers presented by climate change. Luckily, many cities and communities throughout the United States have begun implementing plans to improve their resilience.
Climate change can wreak havoc on communities, but local governments and organizations have the power to defend against disasters. Resilient pioneers – like the Hawaiian island of Oahu – are taking massive steps to protect their local communities.
Although Oahu is considered by many to be paradise, it's not immune to the effects of climate change. These effects include increased flooding, rising sea levels, and extreme heatwaves.
To combat these issues, Oahu has developed a sweeping and comprehensive strategy to improve the island's climate resilience.
This plan – known as Resilient Oahu – includes 44 specific actions the island is committed to taking, including reducing empty homes and increasing affordable housing funding, promoting new agricultural models for economic and food security, and increasing Oahu’s preparedness using scenario modeling and artificial intelligence.
The strategy, once implemented, will transform Oahu into a fortress of sustainability, community, and climate resilience.
How You Can Be More Resilient
It's the duty of local governments to protect the community as a whole in times of crisis. But during an actual disaster, the responsibility to protect yourself and your home ultimately falls to you.
Your home is your castle, so how do you protect yourself when your castle is under attack?
A natural disaster can strike at any moment with little or no notice. Therefore, the most important step in defense of a crisis is preparation. FEMA offers many defensive tactics for you to proactively protect yourself and your property from natural disasters, including:
- Retrofitting your home to withstand a disaster by upgrading outdated features like windows, lighting, and drainage.
- Investing in disaster insurance to protect your property.
- Preparing a safe room with food and emergency supplies for you and any other people or pets living with you.
- Developing an emergency plan that you can turn to when a disaster strikes and your emotions are heightened.
Climate change is undoubtedly the most daunting challenge that humankind has ever faced. While it's not a solution to the problem, climate resilience is what will keep society safe(r) from the dangers of climate change.
The government may strengthen the local community, but ultimately the responsibility to protect yourself and your property is your own. Preparation is the best way to do so in the event of a natural disaster.
For even more on sustainability and resilience, subscribe to our ReelTalk newsletter!