In addition to pressing forward to reduce carbon emissions, the Obama administration is championing the cause of communities adapting to the existing realities of climate change. The White House led Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience published a report Monday focused on creating a path for US communities to adapt to the effects of climate change, which are already affecting parts of the country. The administration also announced a new effort to collaborate with communities to enhance resiliency planning on a local level, as well as a partnership between universities who have committed to train a generation of design and building professionals equipped to adapt society to the threats of climate change.
These announcements come as a part of the Obama administration’s larger effort to spearhead efforts to address climate change, as coastal communities have begun to face rising sea levels and extreme weather.
According to John Holdren, Obama’s chief science advisor, humans have three options in confronting climate change: reduce emissions, build resiliency, or suffer. “Society is already doing some of all three. What’s really up for grabs is the future mix, and if we want ― as all humans should ― to minimize human suffering,” he said.
The report was titled Opportunities to Enhance the Nation’s Resilience to Climate Change, and adds to Obama’s already considerable climate change legacy. The Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience was created with an executive order three years ago, and includes officials from multiple federal agencies. Over the course of the last decade, wildfires and extreme weather have cost the federal government 357 billion dollars, and the report predicts these costs will grow even larger in coming decades.
The report reads:
“We have come a long way in understanding the effects of climate change, organizing communities, strengthening infrastructure, protecting our natural and cultural resources, developing technology, and planning for the future. Climate change impacts will continue to manifest for a long time to come, and we have more work to do to ensure that we prepare, we adapt, and we respond and recover quickly.”
The report also highlights the administration’s actions to address climate change thus far, including nine executive actions.
Holdren explained that as people have started to experience the effects of climate change first hand, their willingness to accept the science involved, and to address the situation, has increased. Many communities in places such as Louisiana, Georgia, and Virginia have already begun to deal with flooding and extreme weather as a result of climate change.