Climate Adaptation Moves Toward Center Stage

There’s an increasing bipartisan move to fund climate resilience.

The big news today is the deal with Manchin to  provide billions of dollars of funding for clean energy. Manchin’s vote will be needed because no Republican Senator will vote for the bill.  In contrast, funding for climate resilience has drawing power even for Republicans.

It seems to be true that, in Bob Dylan’s words “you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”  You don’t even need a climate modeler. The need for adaptation has becoming unmistakable as cascading floods, heatwaves, storms, wildfires, and drought assault the nation — the plenty of examples in just the past few weeks.

Climate adaptation is moving into the limelight, with major funding on adaptation from Congress and state governments.  Notably, this funding is coming with bipartisan support.

The 2021 infrastructure bill, which required bipartisan support in both Houses to pass,  contained $47 billion for climate resilience. For instance, the Army Corps of Engineers received four times the amount it got last year for flood control related construction. The Bureau of Reclamation got $250 million for desalinization and a billion for water recycling and reuse. NOAA will get half a billion to map and model flooding, and the Agriculture Department got a similar amount for wildfire defense grants to at risk communities. Other funding went to funding for Indian tribes for resilience, including funds to relocate some communities from high-risk areas; funding to move highways out of high risk area; and relocating water infrastructure.

Notably, Republicans like Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy helped write the resilience provisions of the bill. His remarks make clear the broad appeal of resilience spending. “There’s people living in Livingston Parish, for example, flooded in 2016, whose lives — everything in their life was destroyed,” he said. “The pictures of their children, the wedding dress in which they married, the home in which they lived, which had never flooded before — the fact that we are helping our fellow Americans avoid that gives me an incredible sense of satisfaction.”

Only a couple of months earlier than that, California Governor Newsom signed a package of bills providing billions of dollars for climate adaptation. The bill includes $1.5 billion for forest and wildfire resilience; $5.2 billion for drought response and water resilience; and $3.7 billion to help communities deal with risks from heat waves, sea-level rise, and flooding.

At other end of the country and the political spectrum, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill providing $640 billion to fund coastal resilience efforts.  He did not, of course, mention the word climate change. But his speech endorsing the measure left no doubt about his awareness of a changing world:

“Since day one, the resiliency of our state has been a top priority for my administration. This legislation will allow us to build on historic investments and progress by ensuring communities have the resources they need for resilience planning and project implementation as well as creating a framework for a cohesive, coordinated approach to address the impacts of sea level rise, intensified storms, and localized flooding.”

There’s always been concern that talking about climate adaptation might mislead people into thinking that cutting carbon emissions isn’t urgent. For that reason, there was a long-time reluctance on the part of climate advocates to focus on adaptation.  It’s possible, of course, that understanding the scope of climate impacts and the cost of adaptation might have the opposite effect of dramatizing the seriousness of climate change.

That debate over voter psychology is no longer relevant. We’re past the time when climate adaptation was a optional topic for discussion. Serious climate effects are crashing into us, and we have no choice but to invest in adaptation. Even if we manage to curb carbon emissions by midcentury, the need for adaptation will only escalate. What’s been done so far is only a down-payment on a much larger adaptation bill.

 

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Reader Comments

8 Replies to “Climate Adaptation Moves Toward Center Stage”

  1. thanks for this helpful, article, Dan. I work in the field of carbon dioxide removal. Your final comment, for better or worse, is redolent of the situation we face with CDR also, i.e. while many help back discussing it as a distraction from emissions reductions, our indolence now necessitates both. Wil

  2. Dan, I hope and pray this is the ultimate plan to save an acceptable quality of life for our newest and all future generations.

    You and your colleagues must unite with Us and Them today to save our civilization.

    Things are going wrong so unexpectedly fast that we don’t have a clue on how much time we have left.

    You and your colleagues MUST educate and inform the public today to make the right things happen today.

    1. THREE MUSTS TO CONTROL GLOBAL WARMING:

      FOCUS ON IMMEDIATE IMPLEMENTATION TO MAKE THE RIGHT THINGS HAPPEN TODAY.

      ALWAYS CONSIDER SAVING THE FUTURE FOR OUR NEWEST AND FUTURE GENERATIONS AS OUR HIGHEST PRIORITY.

      IT’S ONE THING TO COME UP WITH A PLAN, BUT YOU MUST ALSO INCLUDE IMPLEMENTATION BECAUSE WE DON’T HAVE TIME LEFT TO WAIT AROUND FOR PLANS THAT MAY BE IMPOSSIBLE DREAMS.

        1. More, continuous proof we have lost absolute, total and complete control of global warming, mainly due to the Power of Money:

          Extreme heat, flash drought and more flash flooding are all on tap this weekend. See if you’re affected

          https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/29/weather/weekend-forecast-heat-drought-floods/index.html

          The Durants’ are still right and we have again failed to learn from the lessons of history, at our increasingly out of control peril.

          God Help our newest and future generations!

          1. Dan, I never cease to be amazed when Legal Planet Powers That Be threaten those of us that you consider to be “Impure” with:

            “Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.”

            Could it be that we keep exposing the truth about your worst case cultural failure:

            In 1961 Ike gave his Farewell Address that included the statement: “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.”

            It’s really a shame that you and your colleagues must continuously hide behind Hofstadter’s 1963 exposure that academics do not want to communicate with the “Impure” public (also as referenced by Dirks in a 2013 CALMAG)” using your Pure/Impure Dichotomy against the public.

            I continuously find it most amazing that your culture refuses to understand that these cultural failures are the gravest threat to the survival of the human race from global warming today. The gravest fact of life is that academics are really no better than politicians when it comes to cultural domination by the Power of Money.

            You still refuse to admit the consequences that the Durants’ Lessons of History warned us about when politicians and intellectuals fail to meet the challenges of change, the consequence is the decline and fall of civilizations.

            Yes, I know:

            “Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.”

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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