A big concern that communities have when faced with climate change-related disasters is the displacement of people, said Marissa Ramirez, who works as the project manager for SPARCC, an organization currently working to help six communities prepare for climate change.
Displacement, Ramirez said, whether it’s “temporary or permanent, forced or voluntary is rooted in inequity and exacerbated by climate change.”
Key for resilience and reducing displacement, Ramirez said, is to focus on the needs of the most vulnerable groups, often populations of people of color, who will be most heavily affected by events like floods, fires, hurricanes and heat waves.
Some solutions, Ramirez said, include increasing affordable housing and community engagement. Resilient communities prioritize long-term affordability.
The thinking that goes into resilient solutions is complex. Ramirez used the example of air conditioning. As heat waves become longer, hotter and more frequent, people will need access to air conditioners and electricity to power them. Yet consuming electricity currently contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
“We need to provide air conditioning now, but we need to think about is that maladaptive for our future, where our climate will continue to change?” she said.
One solution is to start constructing buildings that will stay cooler and designing communities to prepare for future warming.
“We can’t keep designing communities for today, because it’s going to be hotter tomorrow, it might be wetter tomorrow, it might be drier,” she said. “The homes that we have right now may not shelter us safely in the future.”
Here’s more from Ramirez on community resilience.