Climate change – take it or leave it?

Doroti KissPlanet

flood proof houses

Neverending discussion

In the last fifteen years, “climate change” was one of the most over-used expression that dominated the world media and our every days. We’ve had thousands of discussions, forums, agreements on how we can fight global warming.

But we seem to forget the other very important side of the question:

how can we adapt to climate change? how can we reduce its effects and risks?

In order to create a secure world for future generations, our communities need to find adequate adaptation strategies for the challenges that climate change expose on us.

Clearly, not all countries are affected equally by these issues, and they are certainly not paying the same price for coping with climate change.

Global organizations estimate that adaptation costs could reach up to $150 billion by 2025/2030. We could buy some burgers out of this money, right?

Besides funding issues, countries have to arm themselves with the proper knowledge and supporting technologies – especially developing countries and those in coastal areas. Moving on from the facts and figures…let’s learn what actual steps communities can take to adapt to climate change!

Coastal areas

A great percentage – up to 44% – of Earth’s population lives in coastal zones, and they are the most likely to be exposed to storms and raising sea levels.

According to UNFCCC, the most effective way for protection can be the creation of dunes and coastal wetlands or investing in afforestation. Building floating farms and growing salt-resistant crops can help adapting to the floods that would destroy normal land cultures. Bangladesh has already implemented floating gardens that actually produces more crops than traditional lands. Floating rafts consist of layers of water hyacinths, bamboo, compost & dirt, and of course – the crop itself.

Agriculture

Weather changes such as storms and droughts can result in the decrease of grain yields, thus causing problems in food production.

To ensure food security, farmers can grow different varieties of crops or change the timing of farm activities. It is also important to improve water usage and maintain grass waterways to secure the hydration of the crops. Farmers in Mexico have developed sustainable irrigation systems to preserve decreasing water supplies in the region. These systems use less water than normal irrigation and by applying them farmers could restore the water level to normal.

Water safety

We know that heat leads to a growing thirst – it’s true for every living creature. It’s easy to understand that temperature rise will eventually increase our water needs as well.

To create a sustainable future it’s necessary that we manage our water resources consciously.

The good news is that everyone can take part in reserving our water supply.

Countries can expand reservoir capacities or enforce non-water-based sanitation, meanwhile industrial firms can use lower-grade water for cooling systems.

We can also utilize rain or storm water instead of transfering it from distant places, or exploit “green water” in our agriculture. Mauritania and Guyana have already implemented progressive actions: they’ve builded better hydrological monitoring systems, involved communities in water management and improved storm water drainage.

People

And after all, one of the most important questions is:

how can we, individuals, adapt to the effects of climate change?

For starters, before moving to a potentially affected zone, people should consult flood maps and forecasts to measure the risks. When building a home, it’s very important to plan it for an elevated level.

For those, who are currently living in a risky area, migration can be an option. If it’s not a viable way, people need to consider relocating vulnerable items to higher positions within the house, such as water heaters, electric panels, furnaces, etc.

We can also reduce our risks by buying premium hazard insurances that cover all the possible effects climate change can “offer us”.

The most important step is to take action: educate ourselves, create communities, organize forums and to convince our governments on the importance of taking the necessary actions.

If you want to start a community-driven adaptation initiative, this handy guide describes each and every step how to plan and execute the whole process. Oxfam America, a non-profit organization is striving to help regions that are affected by climate change. Their efforts seems to be paying off, since developed countries has pledged $9.3 billion to support their Green Climate Fund initiative. Learn more on creating a sustainable future by subscribing to our newsletter!

Photo credits:

Floating gardens: Thomas Schoch, 2010, http://tiny.cc/5lftay

Grass waterways: Natural Resources Conservation Service, 2004, http://tiny.cc/foftay

Rain barrels: Jan Tik, 2005, http://tiny.cc/mpftay

High built houses: Wikipedia, http://tiny.cc/wrftay