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How American communities are preparing for the impacts of climate change

A new investigation from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has found that many communities across the United States are addressing their own unique challenges associated with climate change. Some communities are also working to reduce their contribution to harmful emissions and global warming. 

The AAAS report “How We Respond” describes projects in 18 communities that are applying science-based solutions to minimize the impacts of climate change. The initiatives by local governments, nonprofits, and businesses represent a range of climate responses that could be adapted for other communities as well.

The local efforts involve various approaches, including: the use of wetlands to limit flooding and emissions; the modification of water, food, and waste systems; and the deployment of sea level sensors and monitoring.

In Dane County, Wisconsin, the goal is to capture methane and develop cleaner energy. Meanwhile, residents of Sheridan County, Kansas are working to improve water use and efficiency in farming. In Alaska, two communities are relocating buildings to protect them from shoreline erosion.

The report also summarizes the science on climate change, and reveals the impacts that are currently being experienced in different American communities. 

The researchers explain how scientific information can be used in multiple stages of community response, from understanding the risks and analyzing options to implementing a plan and monitoring progress. For example, many communities in the United States are working with scientists to conduct vulnerability assessments, which evaluate local climate risks and pinpoint changes to help mitigate these risks.

“We want to shine a light on how communities are taking action on climate change,” said Emily Therese Cloyd, director of the AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology. “We hope How We Respond gives communities ideas for how they can respond to climate change locally and ways that scientists and community members can work together to build stronger, more resilient communities.”

For more information, the full report can be accessed here.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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Image Credit: Impact Media Lab / AAAS

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