Climate change impacts-more heat, drought, extreme rainfall, and stronger storms-have already harmed communities around the globe. Even if the world could cut its carbon emissions to zero tomorrow, further significant global climate change is now inevitable. Although we cannot tell with certainty how much average global temperatures will rise, we do know that the warming we have experienced to date has caused significant losses, and that the failure to prepare for the consequences of further warming may prove to be staggering.
Building a Resilient Tomorrow: How to Prepare for the Coming Climate Disruption (Oxford University Press, 2019), edited by Alice C. Hill and Leonardo Martinez-Diaz, does not dwell on overhyped descriptions of apocalyptic climate scenarios, nor does it travel down well-trodden paths surrounding the politics of reducing carbon emissions. Instead, it starts with two central facts: climate impacts will continue to occur, and we can make changes now to mitigate their effects. While squarely confronting the scale of the risks we face, this pragmatic guide focuses on solutions-some gradual and some more revolutionary-currently being deployed around the globe. Each chapter presents a thematic lesson for decision-makers and engaged citizens to consider, outlining replicable successes and identifying provocative recommendations to strengthen climate resilience.
Between animated discussions of ideas as wide-ranging as managed retreat from coastal hot-zones to biological approaches for resurgent climate-related disease threats, Hill and Martinez-Diaz draw on their personal experiences as senior officials in the Obama Administration to tell behind-the-scenes stories of what it really takes to advance progress on these issues. The narrative is dotted with tales of on-the-ground citizenry, from small-town mayors and bankers to generals and engineers, who are chipping away at financial disincentives and bureaucratic hurdles to prepare for life on a warmer planet. For readers exhausted by today's paralyzing debates on yearly "fluke" storms or the existence of climate change, Building a Resilient Tomorrow offers better ways to manage the risks in a warming planet, even as we work to limit global temperature rise.
Beth Windisch is a national security practitioner. You can tweet her @bethwindisch.
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