Ever wonder what others are doing about the effects of climate change? Get a quick overview in The State of Adaptation in the United States!

By Lara Hansen

Unlike the weather, about which it has been complained that much is said but nothing ever done, there is action underway to address the effects of climate change in our communities and ecosystems across the country. The State of Adaptation in the United States, a synthesis commissioned and supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and undertaken by EcoAdapt, the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, the Georgetown Climate Center at Georgetown University, and the University of California-Davis, provides examples of societal responses to climate change in our planning and management of cities, agriculture and natural resources. These examples include regulatory measures, management strategies, and information sharing.

But we can’t rest on our laurels just yet!

The State of Adaptation in the United States also identifies the gaps that need to be filled to better prepare society for climate change, as well as actions that could fill those gaps.

Recommended next steps include:

  1. The Inaugural National Adaptation Forum: Action Today for a Better Tomorrow. Being held this week in Denver! It will serve as a capacity-building opportunity and has a meeting flow designed to increase cross-sectoral linkages among adaptation practitioners. Participants include >500 governmental, NGO, academic, and private sector representatives.
  2. The American Society of Adaptation Professionals (ASAP). Launching in 2013, this society aims to organize and support the needs of climate change adaptation professionals – in academia, public, and the private and non-profit sectors – working on adaptation from national to local scales and within or across multiple sectors. This group plans to use the National Adaptation Forum as an opportunity for its first public convening.
  3. Take stock of existing guidance: direct people to what is already available through websites such as the Adaptation Clearinghouse and the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange, assess the efficacy of the tools, and create what is still needed.
  4. Climate change adaptation marketing. Most people don’t know what adaptation is by name and many don’t know what it is even when you explain it. It needs to be made understandable, approachable, and embraceable.
  5. Kick-start adaptation implementation (especially at the state and local level). Provide incentives to implement more challenging or experimental approaches that include mechanisms for assessing efficacy through monitoring and evaluation.
  6. Identify Pathways for Success. This includes an analysis and synthesis of technical mechanisms (including project, process, and monitoring design), legal mechanisms, and metrics of success for effective adaptation. From this good replicable models of successful adaptation can be developed.
  7. Move the climate change agenda beyond its current perception as being an environmental issue. Make it central to good planning and management for social and economic sustainability and well-being. This includes efforts to broaden the scope of climate change adaptation to show cross-sectoral linkages and the synergies that evolve through multi-sectoral cooperation.