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Coastal cities prepare for the impact of climate change

Recent storms and flooding have caused significant damage in cities across the South, East Coast, and West Coast of the United States. From Louisiana to New Jersey, these storms have brought heavy rainfall and flooding. The West Coast has experienced overlapping atmospheric rivers, which have contributed to the heavy rains. While Californians have not seen the same level of weather-related disasters as last winter, the threat of flooding and storms still remains.

Judson Jones, The Times’s meteorologist, explains that storms are a natural part of the water cycle, replenishing water supplies for the upcoming dry months. However, climate change has made these storms more intense and frequent. Warmer air holds more moisture, leading to wetter and stronger storms worldwide.

Coastal areas are particularly vulnerable to climate change due to rising sea levels and erosion. This puts a large portion of the world’s population, including one-fifth of Americans, at risk. However, there are solutions available to address these issues. Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank focused on coastal cities, has developed a framework with numerous solutions that governments and communities can implement to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, co-founder of Urban Ocean Lab, emphasizes that there are already existing solutions that can be implemented. It is not always necessary to wait for technological advancements or large amounts of funding. Cities can develop workforce programs for renewable energy projects, redesign waterfronts to be resilient to climate change, and protect and restore coastal ecosystems. These strategies not only help combat climate change but also strengthen local economies.

Many coastal cities in the United States already have climate plans in place, but implementation has been slow. It is crucial for cities to understand the transformative impact of climate change and take action accordingly. The Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden’s climate bill, provides coastal cities with $21.7 billion to prepare for global warming.

Several cities have already made progress in addressing climate change. Hoboken, New Jersey, has implemented measures such as elevating power lines and building cisterns and new sewers to cope with rising seas. New York City is working on a significant environmental restoration project in Jamaica Bay to protect the ecosystem and the city. Baltimore has established resilience hubs, which provide resources and support to communities during disasters.

Individuals can also play a role in addressing climate change. Community organizations can advocate for change at the local level and influence policy and resource allocation. It is essential for governments to include communities in the decision-making process. Climate change can be addressed through organized efforts and citizen power.

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson emphasizes that the impact of extreme weather events depends on infrastructure, the built environment, and how people live. Taking action to protect cities and communities from climate change can prevent extreme weather events from becoming disasters.

In terms of international climate policy, the recent appointment of John Podesta as President Biden’s adviser on international climate policy raises questions about the future of the U.S.-China relationship. The U.S. and China are the world’s two largest economies and polluters. The speed at which they agree to reduce emissions sets the tone for global climate action. Podesta has a history of dealing with China and has played a key role in climate agreements. However, there may also be potential sources of tension, particularly regarding the competition between the U.S. and China in renewable energy.

While another major climate deal between the U.S. and China is unlikely this year, Podesta’s appointment reassures the international community that the United States remains committed to global climate action. However, the possibility of former President Donald Trump regaining the White House could impact the U.S.’s climate policy in the future.

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