Michael started the presentation with the idea that there is “no free lunch”. The development of the country in the past 100 year has brought about changes both good and bad. Our rapid growth and use of resources is now something that we have to live and pay for right now. Climate is changing and it is changing at a faster rate than before. Predictions that were made in the last 10 years are no longer valid. Climate is changing at such a fast rate that we can no longer predict using traditional methods. In the Northeast, precipitation has increase more than 70% just in the last few years.
How do we go about with the change? How can we deal with climate change? The US EPA is on a mission to perform and protect the health and environment of the public. Collaborating with the local government, the US EPA is investing into planning and policy to help cities and local regions adopt to the future. A report published in 2008 shows that health related issues, such as allergies, is on the rise and this can be attributed to an increase in temperature due to climate change.
To partner with cities and locals, EPA published a Climate Change Adaptation Plan. The plan includes the latest research on climate change. Plans to measure and evaluate performances, plans to provide details to public. Given the wide topics on climate change, each specific cities and locals will work directly with regional EPA and develop site specific plans.
Michael provided an example. Flooding from storms and inundation due to SLR. He first listed the various problems that may occur including the obvious such as property damage, molding, health related issues to that most people would not think of such as damaging wetlands, spreading of contaminated sites, destruction of natural ecologies, and hazardous debris cleanup. Tools such as Energy Star and Water Sense are part of the tools that EPA is providing to help locals. Policies such as the wetland protection in climate ready estuaries are other tools that are region specific but can be adopted in various regions. Other programs such as Weathering Change are providing locals to pledge on thinking about climate change.
US EPA also work with policy makers to push and influence climate change adaptation through the power of regulations. One example is Land Use where local policies can influence what type of buildings are built on what type of land. Smart Growth planning can provide not only benefits currently, but also help in times of need.
For more information, please visit the US EPA Website at www.epa.gov/climatechange