What do Resiliency, Adaptation, and Emergency Management Have to Do With The Ithaca Green New Deal?
Resiliency, adaptation, and emergency management all sound like good things, but what do they even mean? And how in the world are they connected to carbon neutrality? Well, for the Ithaca Green New Deal to be a success we have to be brutally honest about one thing: we are in a climate emergency right now. Unfortunately, even if we were to totally reverse course today and stop pollution entirely, we would still see the consequences of decades of carbon emissions. As we transition to a carbon-free world, we need to also think about the consequences of climate change, especially how those consequences will transform our most vulnerable populations and communities.
Resiliency refers to strengthening both our communities and natural ecology against the devastating effects of climate change. In places that are prone to hurricanes, this means strengthening barriers against floods, in places that are prone to droughts, this means securing new sources of water, in Ithaca, this means preparing our infrastructure for heavy snow and rain storms (and potential flooding), as well as intense summer heat.
As the climate changes, so will weather patterns, and that can have serious consequences for the Ithaca area. One of the worst parts about climate change is that it makes these weather patterns more erratic – essentially meaning that we can’t predict whether the coming year will be full of downpours or ridden with drought. These changes will have disastrous effects for the region’s economy, and adjusting to the new normal is going to take investment and planning. Having flexible systems capable of responding to unpredictable weather is going to be key to ensuring the long-term success of our community, especially for local farmers.
We all know to call 911 when there is a fire, a crime, or a medical emergency, but who do we call when the climate is in crisis? As we mentioned, weather in the Ithaca area will become more erratic, leading to flash flooding, extreme heat waves, and intense blizzards which can pose a serious public health risk. While we want to continue responding effectively to emergencies, preparation and mitigation are key components of emergency management and must be our highest priority in this climate emergency. This means beefing up our infrastructure to handle floods and blizzards, as well as installing energy efficient cooling and heating options in our buildings to protect ourselves from intense heat and cold without overburdening the grid.