While there has been a lot of generalized talk about what to do to combat climate change, there isn't much talk about what is actually being done to address these concerns. However, a new study has just taken stock of what some at-risk cities are doing in order to find out what still needs to be achieved.
The study was conducted by Sabrina McCormick and Kathleen Carlson of George Washington University, with the results published in the journal Global Environmental Change. The pair interviewed 65 local leaders in six U.S. cities — Tucson, Ariz., Portland, Ore., Tampa, Fla., Los Angeles, Boston, and Raleigh, N.C. — that will be heavily hit by this changing climate in order to see what processes are in place to deal with these inevitable obstacles.
"This research is critical to moving cities forward in addressing climate impacts so that economic risk can be reduced and human health can be protected," McCormick explained in a statement.
In terms of being ready to adapt along with climate change, Portland came out on top. Tampa, which will be heavily affected in the coming years, was ranked last.
"Tampa is vulnerable to climate change and associated extreme weather," McCormick continued. "Despite this risk, Florida's political representatives remain largely unconcerned about climate change."
In fact, the study found that political orientation had a lot to do with how ready a city was to address the effects of climate change. Citizens of Portland are more liberal, which also correlates with a higher trust of climate scientists who are trying to convey the risks and taking more immediate action. Cities with a more conservative voter base, like Tampa, tend to downplay the risks of climate change and leave them more ill-prepared.
Climate change affects everyone, and politics shouldn't be a factor. Failing to adapt because of political convictions — rather than the facts — is going to be a very costly mistake.
This study hopefully represents the first of many of its kind. Asking local leaders, who will ultimately be making the decisions when cities need to adjust to the changing environment, about the plans of respective cities is crucial to identifying strengths and weaknesses in their strategies. As this study has suggested, one crucial aspect to a city's readiness is the acceptance of local citizens and politicians to acknowledge the problem and take the matter seriously.
Want to make sure your city is ready to adapt to climate change? Contact your local politicians and ask them what they're doing to address this serious and imminent problem.
(Cover image: iStockphoto)