Adaptation Examples: Society
Adaptation Examples in Society
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- New Orleans practices community-driven adaptation and planning
- Native American Tribes plan for climate change
- Insurance companies promote climate adaptation
- City, state, and federal planners are discouraging construction in low-lying areas and promoting the use of building techniques that can better withstand sea level rise and storm surge in areas like New Orleans.
- Several Native American tribes are working to develop and implement adaptation plans to respond to climate change.
- The insurance industry is exploring how it can promote investment in adaptation and minimize the impact of climate change.
- EPA's Aging Initiative is helping older adults protect themselves against climate change impacts such as extreme weather events.
- The Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force integrates Environmental Justice into recommendations for how the government should prepare for climate change.
- EPA Water: Green Infrastructure
- EPA Urban Waters
- EPA Aging Initiative
- EPA American Indian Environmental Office
- EPA Heat Island Program
- EPA Office of Environmental Justice
- EPA Tribal Science Council – Science in Indian Country
- IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Working Group II
- Oxfam America, Exposed: Social Vulnerability and Climate Change in the US Southeast
- ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability USA
- Institute for Sustainable Communities, Promising Practices in Adaptation & Resilience (PDF)
- NRC America’s Climate Choices: Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change
- Northern Arizona University: Tribes and Climate Change
- USGCRP Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States
- USGCRP Synthesis Assessment Product 4.6: Analyses of the effects of global change on human health and welfare and human systems
Climate change will likely have significant impacts on society. Water shortages, storms, flooding, heat waves, and sea level rise could all impact U.S. quality of life. Some groups, such as people with poor health or limited financial resources, are potentially more vulnerable to these effects. Similarly, some industries that are closely tied to climate, such as tourism and agriculture , would also be affected. For more information about how climate change will likely impact society, visit the Society Impacts section.
Communities, industries, public health departments, and federal agencies are working to minimize the negative impacts of climate change on society. Societal adaptation measures are specific to the local population and environment. Some specific examples of activities include:
- Developing plans to help elderly populations deal with more extreme weather
- Relocating communities where in-place adaptation is not feasible
- Considering how the private sector can support and promote adaptation
- Understanding the specific needs of sensitive populations
The following case studies, examples, and related links are illustrative and not intended to be comprehensive.
New Orleans practices community-driven adaptation and planning
The New Orleans City Planning Commission engaged community members in post-Hurricane Katrina planning efforts to rebuild a community more resilient to climate change. For example, one of the lowest-lying and most vulnerable areas of the city—the Holy Cross district of the Lower 9th Ward—worked with Tulane University and other neighborhood organizations to prepare a sustainable restoration plan. The plan takes a multilayered approach to restoration by promoting the following:
- Relocating homes in low-lying areas to higher ground
- Converting unused lands into green parks and urban farms that create natural flood control systems with the co-benefits of recreation and the development of a local food supply
- Using green-building technologies, such as green roofs and efficient insulating materials
- Elevating new construction and build accessible escape routes through roofs (mandated)
These actions are intended to build resilience to future extreme weather events while also improving overall neighborhood livability.
Native American Tribes plan for climate change
Several Native American tribes are working to develop and implement adaptation plans to respond to current and expected future changes in the environment. A variety of public and private partners, including federal agencies such as EPA, provide resources and technical assistance to support actions such as these. To find additional profiles of tribes taking action to prepare for climate change, visit the pages of Northern Arizona University and the University of Oregon. The following examples illustrate the efforts of Native American tribes to address the impacts of climate change.
- The Swinomish Tribe in Washington completed a Climate Change Adaptation Plan in 2010 (PDF). For detailed information about the efforts, visit the Northwest Impacts & Adaptation page.
- Several villages in Alaska are working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to relocate communities away from areas severely impacted by sea level rise and erosion. Newtok, Shishmaref, and Kivalina are at various stages in discussing relocation options. To find out more about these cases, visit the Alaska Impacts & Adaptation page.
- The Hualapai Tribe in Arizona is preparing for climate change-related water shortages. To learn more about how the Tribe is using water storage and invasive species removal to protect their water supply, visit the Southwest Impacts & Adaptation page
Insurance companies promote climate adaptation
Insurance companies recognize the potential impacts that a changing climate could have on their industry and the significant role insurance can play in promoting adaptation to a wide range of stakeholders. Many of the world's leading insurers and reinsurance companies (the large corporations that back insurance companies), such as Munich Re and Swiss Re are members of global insurance climate change initiatives like ClimateWise, The Geneva Association, the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative, and the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative.
EPA protects the environmental health of older Americans
EPA's Aging Initiative works to protect the environmental health of older adults through coordination of research, prevention strategies, and public education. Although this initiative does not explicitly focus on the impacts of climate change, many of the environmental health concerns are likely to be exacerbated by climate change—such as extreme heat, flooding, and poor air quality. EPA developed a National Agenda for the Environment and the Aging to guide its work. This was done in collaboration with experts, community members, other government agencies, and organizations such as AARP, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, and the National Caucus and Center on the Black Aged.
Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force prioritizes traditionally underserved populations
In 2009, the Obama Administration convened the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. Through an Executive Order, the Task Force was charged to provide recommendations for how the federal government can strengthen policies and programs to better prepare the Nation to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The Task Force released the Federal Actions for a Climate Resilient Nation report in 2011. The report outlines several guiding principles for adaptation including prioritizing the most vulnerable people, places, and infrastructure.