Strategies that will assist the natural world and human communities in adapting to the impacts of climate change must be implemented and supported through policies and funding at all levels of government.
Planning for the Future
Funding for state and federal natural resource planning, management and protection of land and waters will be critical to improving the resiliency of natural places to the impacts of climate change.
Similarly, the U.S. should support efforts to protect communities in developing countries that face the most severe impacts from climate change using natural strategies where possible. Providing dedicated funding for this purpose is not just good conservation, it will also be critical to obtaining an international climate agreement that gains the support of all major emitting countries.
Using natural adaptation strategies will be critical bolstering human and natural communities’ resilience to climate change and to improving land and water protection. These strategies will require dedicated funding and should be an integral part of both U.S. domestic climate policy and international development assistance strategies. Similarly, it is essential that natural resource management and conservation programs be required to consider climate change adaptation in their planning.
Climate Change is Happening Now
Climate change is not a vague future threat — it is already upon us, and already damaging ecosystems that provide vital services to human populations. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that past emissions will lead to unavoidable warming of at least 1.3ºF by the end of the century even if atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases remain at 2000 levels.
Increasing the resilience of people and nature to withstand impacts of climate change is essential. In many cases, the most vulnerable places and communities will be the poorest, including in developing countries where collapse of existing ecosystems could lead to mass population dislocation.
Natural resource adaptation strategies can
- protect marshes, mangroves, coral reefs and oyster beds that shield low lying coastal areas from wind and wave damage in the U.S. and developing countries,
- protect critical corridors for the migration of threatened species.
- Mitigate the loss of critical areas by ensuring other key areas are protected.