No Longer Lost: A Roadmap for State Climate Change Preparedness

If you’re lost in the wilderness, stumbling on a map that someone dropped could be a life-saver. Unfortunately, when it comes to preparing for the impacts of climate change, most states in the US are lost.

So today we released a map of best climate preparedness practices that states can employ to get themselves ready for the changing weather patterns that we’re already experiencing and will most likely experience more of in the future.

Getting Climate Smart guide, a joint effort with American Rivers, combines practical advice such as a six step process that states can use to create a plan to address the coming impacts of a changing climate (read my colleague and report lead author Ben Chou’s blog here). The report is focused on the water-related impacts of climate change-- drought, extreme precipitation, changes and precipitation patterns, rising seas--and contains numerous real world case studies. The main audience for the report is state officials, water managers and related stakeholders.But regular folks can learn a lot too.


Getting Climate Smart is a much needed document as the majority of states in the US have either no or insufficient climate preparedness plans. You can see how your state ranks here.

As the spate of billion dollar disasters over the last few years makes clear, doing nothing to prepare for the impacts of climate change is irresponsible and unacceptable. Sometimes even the best prepared cities in the United States prove how ill-equipped they are to deal with climate impacts. Take Chicago for example. The city received more than five inches of rain in a 24 hour period recently and had to discharge tens of thousands of gallons of raw sewage into the main source of drinking water for the areas 7 million residents: Lake Michigan. That's because the ciies' storm and wastewater systems got overwhelmed, even though Chicago has a massive storage system for this kind of event.

But building billion dollar infrastructure projects--like Chicago's water and wastewater storage facilites--isn't exactly the easiest the way to prepare.

Fortunately Getting Climate Smart identifies 10 'No Regrets' strategies that states can adopt to deal the impacts of a changing climate.


State officials and water managers can read the report to find examples of other localities that have implemented, or are implementing, these no regret strategies to help protect the well-being of residents, communities, the economy and natural resources.

It's important to note that climate impacts will vary by region, and of course the strategies and resources available to deal with those impacts will be shaped by existing state laws, policies and resources.

That's why Getting Climate Smart helpfully divides the process for developing a state climate preparedness plan into three different tracks: Basic, Moderate and Robust. States can chose a full menu or pick a la carte to create the program that best suits their needs.

Chosing to do nothing is not an option, as scientists predict distrutive weather patterns are only likely to get worse if we sit on our hands.

So let's hope state's begin to take (more) action now, and get Climate Smart.

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