#SummerScienceFriday | What do Climate Resilient Communities Look Like?

June 16, 2018

This week's post and the next two #SummerScienceFridays will aim to answer the question: what do resilient communities look like?

 

Since there are many different ways to address this question and many different answers, this week we will start by focusing on what community resilience means, especially in the face of a changing climate, and by identifying the specific threats that climate change poses to our Southern California communities. Next week, we’ll discuss community-level resilience strategies in urban environments and the potential for these strategies to improve the quality of life and health of residents, making entire communities more resilient. Lastly, in part three, we will cover what resilience can look like on a regional scale.

 

What is resilience, and why is it important?

Community resilience is the ability of a community to adapt to changes, mitigate impacts and anticipate risks. Communities, like individuals, can become stronger by learning from past experiences and preparing for the future. However, when it comes to climate change, the science is telling us that the planet is experiencing something entirely unprecedented. Due to human activity, i.e. the burning of fossil fuels, global climate is changing at an unprecedented rate, causing global temperatures to become warmer on average.

 

So why are these fast global warming trends so concerning? Well, increased average temperatures have caused increased water scarcity, drought, more frequent fires, altered habitat, and higher persistence of invasive species. We are already witnessing these effects today, some of which present health risks, especially for children and the elderly. In Southern California, some of the effects that will impact communities include hotter temperatures, especially in urban environments, and water scarcity. The city of Los Angeles in particular is expected to become hotter, suffer from more frequent and intense rainstorms, and consequently have more disastrous flood events. Scientists and decision makers are using environmental models to begin to understand climate change and prepare our communities for its worst effects. CWH understands how important it is for Angelenos to consider these changes and envision what healthier and more resilient communities can look like.