We need to both mitigate climate change—reduce future warming by cutting greenhouse gas emissions—and adapt to it. Mitigation and adaptation are linked, and mitigation will make adaptation easier. By getting to zero or negative emissions we can reduce or even turn around the climate change impacts that we're experiencing now, leading to a future with fewer intense heat waves and heavy rainfalls instead of more of them. This will make it easier to focus our resources on adapting to a future with higher sea levels, which are expected to rise for hundreds of years and stay high for thousands.
Doing adaptation right means paying attention and listening to the voices of people who have been marginalized in our society, and uplifting those voices. They are often the most vulnerable to climate change, and they may have valuable knowledge about adaptation and resilience. Thoughtful adaptation efforts strive to make a better world for all, not just some.
General Adaptation Resources
The US Climate Resilience Toolkit provides a wealth of case studies, tools, maps, and other resources on adaptation to climate change.
The National Weather Service's Weather-Ready Nation program offers weather safety information for a variety of hazards, so you know what to do before, during, and after an extreme weather event.
Adapting to Sea Level Rise
Coastal Risk Reduction and Resilience: Using the Full Array of Measures: a report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that provides an overview of different approaches to making coastal areas more resilient to climate change impacts.
Rebuild by Design: After Hurricane Sandy, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development launched a design competition called Rebuild by Design to find innovative ways to rebuild coasts that would make them more resilient to future storms. The website contains information about the winning designs and the future of the Rebuild by
An Introduction to Living Shorelines: a video that explains the concept and benefits of living shorelines
for protecting coasts, from Restore America’s Estuaries, a non-profit conservation organization.
NOAA Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer: A mapping tool that gives users the capability to visualize potential impacts from sea level rise, focusing on the continental United States, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and Saipan. A slider bar is used to show how various levels of sea level rise will impact coastal communities.
Adapting to Extreme Heat
Using Trees and Vegetation to Reduce Heat Islands: this US Environmental Protection Agency webpage provides a concise overview of the ways in which plants can help keep cities cooler.
Talking Trees: An Urban Forestry Toolkit for Local Governments: a document that provides overviews, details, and case studies on the benefits of planting trees in cities. Although it is intended for local governments, it contains fact sheets and other sections that could be useful for educators and students.
Many cities and counties have plans for extreme heat, including warning systems, information on how to avoid heat illness, maps of cooling center locations, and information about water and power conservation. Some examples:
- Summer Heat Safety (City of Phoenix, AZ)
- Cooling Centers in the St. Louis Area (City of St. Louis, MO)
- Keeping Cool in the Heat (City of Boston, MA)
Adapting to Heavy Rainfalls
National Weather Service River Flood Observations: A mapping tool showing current flood status of rivers across the United States. River flood forecasts are also available.
You will find many excellent online resources on how to design, install, and maintain a rain garden, including ones with a focus on school gardens. Some examples:
- Stormwater Management in your Schoolyard (Rutgers University)
- Rain Garden Manual of New Jersey (Rutgers University)
- Rain Gardens for Schools (12000RainGardens.org)
- Rain Gardens (University of Connecticut)
- Ask Mr. Smarty Plants (Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center) is an ask-the-export tool where you might get answers about rain garden plants appropriate for your region.
Green Infrastructure: a website from the U.S. EPA with information on suing green infrastructure to manage stormwater.
Green Roofs: a web page from the University of Idaho with information about the benefits, history, and technical details of green roofs.
Rethinking Culverts: a video from The Nature Conservancy on the role of well-designed culverts in adapting to climate change,for protecting both fish and human communities.
MyTree from iTree: with this tool you enter the address of a specific tree, provide some basic information about the tree (size, proximity to buildings, etc.), and then it calculates the benefits of that tree in terms of carbon dioxide uptake, stormwater mitigation, air pollution removal, energy usage reduction, and avoided energy emissions.
Adapting to Drought
WaterSense: a website from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with practical information about water conservation. The site includes information on water-saving products, sections for educators and children, State Water Facts, information on outdoor and indoor water conservation, resources for homes and commercial buildings, and more.
Adapting to Extreme Storms
Ready.gov contains sections with information on what to do before, during, and after extreme weather events (and other disasters), and a Make a Plan section that guides you through disaster preparedness.
Storm Surge Inundation Map: a storymap that shows historical hurricane tracks, the frequency of hurricane strikes, and potential areas of coastal flooding and inundation from storms.
Equity and Climate Justice
What is 'climate justice'? from Yale Climate Connections
Code Red: Baltimore's Climate Divide: an investigative story with photos, text, maps, and data on inequity in exposure to extreme heat in Baltimore. The story explores factors of health, income, race, housing discrimination, and tree cover. Source: Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland, Capital News Service, National Public Radio, and Wide Angle Youth Media, and WMAR television.
EJScreen—Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool: EJScreen from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an environmental justice mapping and screening tool that provides EPA with a nationally consistent dataset and approach for combining environmental and demographic socioeconomic indicators. EJScreen users choose a geographic area; the tool then provides demographic socioeconomic and environmental information for that area. All of the EJScreen indicators are publicly-available data.
Social Vulnerability Index Interactive Map: a map of Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) for counties in the U.S. SVI is a measure of vulnerability based on fifteen factors including poverty, lack of vehicle access, and crowded housing.
Tree Equity Score: trees are an important tool for building climate resilience, but they are not equitably distributed in communities across the U.S. The Tree Equity Score website is a map-based tool for cities and towns in the U.S. that provides a tree equity score based on existing tree canopy, population density, income, employment, surface temperature, race, age, and health.