Even if greenhouse gas emissions were to stop tomorrow, the gases already in the atmosphere would continue to contribute to climate change. We can prepare for inevitable changes by adapting proactively—taking steps now to prepare for and reduce future climate change impacts.
Holding Back the Water
Flood gates, seawalls, and other structures play an important role in protecting people and property. Many flood protection systems will need to be retrofitted to prepare for predicted sea level rise and changing development patterns.
Planning for Heat Emergencies
Heat wave early warning systems and cooling centers can help reduce illnesses and deaths associated with heat waves. Philadelphia was the first U.S. city to implement an early warning program for heat waves. Several cities offer cooling centers.
Changing Agricultural Practices
Scientists and farmers are developing growing methods that are better suited to anticipated changes in temperature, weather, and water availability. For example, rice farmers are increasing yields using a planting system called rice intensification that aims to produce healthy, deep-rooted plants that can better resist drought, water-logging, and wind damage.
Helping Habitats Resist and Recover
Scientists are working to strengthen the resiliency of vulnerable habitats, which are often challenged by multiple stressors such as climate change, pollution, unsustainable fishing or hunting, or damaging patterns of land and water use.
Removing Salt from Seawater
Securing stable sources of freshwater is increasingly important as the availability of freshwater in some regions becomes limited. Desalinization plants, which remove salt from seawater, are being constructed to supplement freshwater supplies. Although these plants are energy-intensive, researchers are working to reduce the amount of energy needed or use renewable energy sources for desalinization.
Relocating Vulnerable Communities
Coastal erosion, increased storms, sea ice retreat, and permafrost melt are putting some coastal communities at risk. In some cases, for example in Alaska, communities are being relocated.