Community and business leaders can take immediate action to both save money and better prepare for climate change impacts, according to a study released this month by the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.
“Everyone thinks that climate change adaptation is expensive,” said Manomet Senior Program Leader Eric Walberg. “The truth is, it will cost a lot more in the long run if you don’t prepare for climate change.”
Among the Manomet recommendations:
Plan for resilient coastlines by including sea level rise and storm surge projections in decisions on the location and character of new development. Climate smart decisions in the coastal zone will protect health and safety of citizens, limit future tax burden and protect the health of costal ecosystems.
Keep existing green infrastructure in place to minimize flood threat and protect water quality. Maintaining forested riparian buffers and protecting headwater streams is among the most cost effective flood control measures. Attempting to replace these services with gray infrastructure is costly and often ineffective. In the case of the Sebago Lake Watershed in Maine the green infrastructure network provides filtration savings of $70 million.
Size new storm water infrastructure to handle increased precipitation intensity. “Much of the existing infrastructure was designed for the climate we used to have, not the one we have now and certainly not the one we’ll have in the future,” Walberg said.
“The decisions we make now are going to have ramifications for many years in terms of cost, health and safety and ecosystem function,” Walberg said. “We identified several clear ways that communities can save taxpayer dollars and become more resilient to climate change.”
The Manomet climate change adaptation work supports many of the adaptation goals that President Obama articulated in his speech on June 25th.
Specifically, the White House plan will "support climate-resilient investments," "maintain agricultural productivity" and “provide tools for climate resilience” – all priorities that are identified in the Manomet reports.
“The president’s speech brought much needed attention to climate change adaptation,” said Manomet Senior Program Leader Eric Walberg, who headed up the research. “We need to be making smart decisions now and hopefully more communities will pay attention to the critical issue.”
For more than 40 years, the Manomet Center has used science and partnerships to build a more sustainable world. The Center is a non-profit research organization headquartered in Massachusetts with scientists working across North and South America.
For more information about the climate change adaptation reports, contact Manomet Center Communications Director David McGlinchey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-224-6521.