As the annual costs of severe weather events in the U.S. grow into the billions of dollars, companies and communities are examining how best to plan ahead to protect their assets and bolster their bottom line. Typical plans involve mitigation, adaptation, or both.
The figure above, adapted from Penney 2008, demonstrates the overlap between adaptation and mitigation. Mitigation (to climate change) is an anthropogenic intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases. Adaptation (to climate change) is an adjustment in response to climate change impacts, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities. FEMA and other emergency managers might call this hardening, preparedness, or hazard mitigation. Through adaptation, communities can achieve climate resilience, the capacity to respond to a perturbation or disturbance by resisting damage and recovering quickly.
We have iconic symbols for GHG reduction: windmills, cyclists, curly light bulbs. However, when we talk about adaptation, we typically show disaster photos. Presenting problems without solutions can lead to despair. So, what does climate resilience look like?
The “What does climate resilience look like?” blog series highlights adaptation images from around the world. Some of these examples require large scale effort by the government, while others can be employed by individual homeowners based on their risk tolerance levels. We will endeavor to highlight best practices that advance multiple goals. For instance, adaptation techniques that also mitigate greenhouse gas emissions often save stakeholders money now, which reduces the payback period.
Have an example of adaptation we can highlight? Please send us the photo by twitter, Facebook, or email. Remember to include the Who What Where: Who took the photo? What is the adaptation technique? Where is the adaptation technique located?
The Chicago Climate Action Plan has several great images of adaptation.
A green roof isn’t painted green. It is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium planted over a waterproofing membrane. In addition to beautifying the building, green roofs serve practical functions such as absorbing rainwater, providing insulation, creating a habitat for wildlife, and helping to lower urban air temperatures and mitigate the heat island effect. The Chicago City Hall green roof, for example, greatly decreases heat; on a sunny Chicago day, the green roof is a balmy 74°F, while the black asphalt roof next door is a blistering 150°F. Green roofs are also an excellent example of mitigation; cooler roofs help reduce air conditioning needs and consequent energy usage.