Risk and Readiness

Impacts from climate change vary by place. Slow-moving stresses include surging seas and drought, while warming will intensify weather shocks, extreme storms, flooding, wildfire, infrastructure failure, and public health woes. Yet families and communities can take steps to prepare. Begin by assessing risk, then act to protect water, secure food and energy, strengthen infrastructure, diversify jobs, and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Where is a Climate Smart Place to Live?

Where are the climate smart places to live? Popular media abound with lists. But much is speculation, relying on off-the-cuff musings of a few climate scientists, each reaching a different conclusion. Yet the popularity of such lists shows that Americans are thinking this through. Let's review some of the public musings about where to live in a future of climate disruptions. Then we’ll share Climate Realty’s more rigorous methodology to help you sort through the noise and determine your own climate smart place.

For two days in September 2014, the most emailed article in the New York Times: On a Warming Planet, Which Cities Will be Safest?Under any model of climate change, scientists say, most of the country will look and feel drastically different within decades, said writer Jennifer Kingson. According to the experts she consulted, Alaska will probably be the next best place. Never mind that Alaska is warming twice as fast as the rest of the nation and is beset with raging wildfire, melting permafrost and coastal storms.  

Two years later, in October 2016, the New York Times revisited the question and reached a completely different set of conclusions. Anchorage, Seattle and Portland no longer are among the Nine Cities to Live in if You're Worried about Climate Change. The only commonality between the two lists in the same newspaper: Detroit.

...
Continue reading
734 Hits
0 Comments

What's a climate smart home, and how much is it worth?

What’s a climate smart home worth? There’s relatively little price difference in today's market, but we see five trends that soon will boost real estate values for homes best suited to avoid climate disruptions.  By 2020, we expect market demand will reward homeowners who invest in low-risk locations, energy-efficient homes, walkable neighborhoods, and resilient communities.

For a growing segment of the American public, the notion of a changing global climate is no longer seen as a distant possibility. Real time evidence is backing up scientific forecasts. The world has just experienced the two hottest years in recorded history. Weird weather is evident across America: Severe storms and floods, heat waves, drought and wildfire.  Global leaders are finally responding to urgent calls for action, recognizing that we’re entering a new era.

If you’re a prospective homebuyer, you’re looking for a solid financial investment as well as a family residence that is safe and sound. For both reasons, this is a good time to anticipate the emerging market for climate-smart homes.  

...
Continue reading
1616 Hits
0 Comments

Climate change turbo charges 2015 El Nino

The world in 2015 is cruising toward the hottest, weirdest year in recorded history, shattering 2014 records. It’s an El Niño year, characterized by unusual heating of the Pacific, turbo-charged by global warming caused by carbon gas emissions. The upshot in the U.S. has severe flooding, heat waves, drought and fire. For many places, it’s a sneak preview of the new normal.

Recent or ongoing drought in California, Texas and Oklahoma, for example, have been intercepted by extreme precipitation and floods. Wildfire danger is high in the Pacific Northwest and northern Rocky Mountains.  Heat waves and severe fires define the summer of 2015 in Alaska and western Canada. July snow blanketed mountain valleys in California’s Sierra Nevada.

The El Niño effect appears to be building to an especially strong event, comparable to the record-breaking event in 1997-98. Meteorologists are hesitant to say anything definitive about the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) because it’s so complex and imperfectly understood. But one thing that is clear is that this year’s unusual heating of the Pacific is occurring against a backdrop of ever-increasing warming of land and water across the Earth.

...
Continue reading
2620 Hits
0 Comments

U.S. Cities Prepare for Climate Future

Is your community ready for climate change? If so, you’re fortunate. A growing number of communities are preparing for unavoidable disruptions, but the 2014 National Climate Assessment reports that “current implementation efforts are insufficient to avoid negative consequences” caused by slow-moving hazards like rising sea level and drought or sudden shocks caused by severe storms, floods, wildfire, and heat waves. 

What’s it mean to be climate ready? At a minimum, it includes a clear-eyed assessment of a community’s vulnerability to the stresses of long-term climate change and exposure to more sudden shocks such as extreme weather events. And it means developing and implementing a plan to reduce those risks, which might include infrastructure failures, water and resource shortages, threats to public health, destruction of homes, social dislocation and unrest.

whitefish-community-gardenReslient communities strengthen local food systems to reduce dependence on concentrated distribution channels and infrastructure that is prone to climate-related disruption.The U.S. Government’s 2014 National Climate Assessment defines community resilience as the capability to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from significant multi-hazard threats with minimum damage to social well-being, the economy, and the environment. The concept is sometimes defined as the capacity of a community to bounce back. But others note that mere recovery no longer will address the new challenges of climate change.  The goal should be to “bounce forward, to build from the proverbial ashes a stronger community or neighborhood better positioned for the future.

...
Continue reading
1629 Hits
0 Comments

North Carolina Communities Prepare for Climate Reality While Politicians Pretend

As a matter of politics, elected officials in North Carolina have choosen to underestimate rising sea levels. So coastal communities are coming up with their own plans. The state has more than 300 miles of direct coastline and thousands of miles of tidal areas. Storm surges, and even high tides driven by the full moon, are inundating many communities with sea water. 

adapt.1460.high.hp north carolina obx house.1432328044539Nikki Kahn / The Washington Post / Getty Images North Carolina journalist Kirk Ross has been covering this slow-moving but relentless story for The Carolina Mercury and Al Jazeera America. Here's a dispatch he filed on May 25, 2015.

Raleigh, N.C. - During the early morning hours of May 2, part of the northbound lane of North Carolina Highway 12 in Kitty Hawk broke off and washed into the Atlantic Ocean.

...
Continue reading
985 Hits
0 Comments

Alaska Heat Wave: Hotter than Arizona!

recordheatThis map shows the record heat northwestern Canada and parts of Alaska experienced in the third week of May. Photo credit: NASA Earth Observatory Alaska heat wave: Hotter than Arizona this week. El Niño is exacerbating northern warmth, but the long term trend shows the Arctic will continue to warm from climate change. It has warmed faster than anywhere else in the world over the last 30 years.

Alaska, along with the rest of the Arctic, has been warming even faster than other regions of the world due to climate change. That was the findings of a report this spring from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which found that the rate of warming will only continue to increase in the coming decades.

The signs of rapid warming in Alaska were everywhere this past winter. The Iditarod was moved north 300 miles to Fairbanks because Anchorage had record low snowfall. A ski resort outside of Juneau had to close because of low snowfall and warm temperatures that inhibited snow-making.

...
Continue reading
887 Hits
0 Comments