Thursday, September 13, 2007

A new guidebook for preparing for climate change

Longtime environmental writer Ted Wolf turned me on to a very useful new book produced through a collaboration between a county government and a university. I immediately alerted my local supervisor in Marin County who will (according to his grateful aide) take the book with him into the upcoming meetings to update the Countywide Plan.

Preparing for Climate Change: a Guidebook for Local, Regional and State Governments was written by a collaboration the Center for Science in the Earth System (Climate Impacts Group of King County, Washington) and the Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean at the University of Washington. The Guidebook is being distributed to 250 member cities, towns and counties of the ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability. As it turns out, Marin County is a member of this organization and will be receiving a copy through that route as well.

As the Web site describes it:

Within a handful of decades, climate in many parts of the United States is expected to be significantly warmer than even the warmest years of the 20th century, increasing the risk of drought, flooding, forest fires, disease, and other impacts across many regions.

Public decision makers have a critical opportunity – and a need – to start preparing today for the impacts of climate change. Preparing for climate change is not a “one size fits all” process, however. Just as the impacts of climate change will vary from place to place, the combination of institutions and legal and political tools available to public decision-makers are unique from region to region. Preparedness actions will need to be tailored to the circumstances of different communities.

The Guidebook is full of recommendations for motivating and mobilizing the local community, for conducting risk assessment, for preparing for identified risks, and for building resilience into local planning. This is a wonderful addition to the local planning toolkit. It remains to be seen how many of its recommendations will be put into action here, but I'll certainly be involved in promoting it.

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