Americans Start Adapting to Climate Change. They’re Doing It Wrong / BloombergQuint

Americans Start Adapting to Climate Change. They’re Doing It Wrong

(Bloomberg) -- Americans took a long time to decide that adaptation to the changing climate was an idea worth exploring. It’s taken only a short time for them to start doing it wrong.

Decisions on projects and infrastructure are being made not on the basis of what’s effective or sensible in the long-run. And as is often the case, the poorest citizens are bearing the brunt of bungled policies. That’s the conclusion suggested by research published last week in the journal Ocean and Coastal Management.

North Carolina’s low-lying eastern flank, bounded by a thin line of barrier islands, is experiencing rising seas at a rate of close to four times faster than the global average. The coast is home to a combination of military and industrial areas along with federally protected lands. It has both cities and open country, along with a variety of income levels and demographics. The mix makes it a useful bellwether for coastal adaptation.

Even as the pace of climate change accelerates, planners and emergency managers across the country still have time to make well-considered decisions. “Ideally, you’d want a leader to sit down and say, ‘Should we build a wall? Should we retreat? Consider all of the options,’” said A.R. Siders, assistant professor at University of Delaware’s Disaster Research Center and lead author of the study on how North Carolina has dealt with the issue. “But that’s not really what happens.”

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