Preparing for Climate Change
Let’s face it – the weather has been unpredictable this year. It’s cold and stormy for a week, and then nice and balmy for the next ten days. As a Bay Area native, I’ve noticed that storms are much more intense than they were decades ago, and they seem to occur between long stretches of nice weather, even in winter. What’s the cause of this unusual trend? Experts say climate change.
Climate change can be daunting. Its impacts vary from long, sustained phenomena, including rising sea levels and increasing average temperatures, to intense single events such as floods. In fact, storms, floods and heatwaves are intensifying, and today these hazards, together with drought, are five times more frequent than they were in the 1970s. But are we powerless in the wake of climate of change? Actually, no, not at all.
Organizations, congregations, and individuals can prepare for the impacts of climate change in tangible ways that are similar to preparing for hazards that may be more familiar to us, such as earthquakes and fire. Let’s break it down.
Preparing for climate change can start with preparing for severe weather. Start with establishing protocols for:
- Power outages (for hours or days)
- Communication systems disruptions (such as downed phone lines or internet connections)
- Transportation disruptions (such as broken air conditioning on BART, or a flooded MUNI station, or unsafe driving conditions on a bridge due to strong winds)
- Facility-related challenges (no air conditioning or a flooded workspace)
- Medical emergencies (such as heat exhaustion)
Preparing your staff and facility for these types of situations is all a regular part of emergency preparedness. So, preparing for the single intense events caused by climate change goes hand-in-hand with actions you’re probably already taking.
On May 4th, the San Francisco Interfaith Council is hosting its Biannual Disaster Resilience Workshop for Congregations with the theme, “From Crisis to Resilience – Congregations Understanding and Responding to Climate Change Impacts.” The workshop’s takeaways include concrete steps that congregations can take to respond to climate change. Local faith leaders, interfaith climate change educators, environmental specialists, and disaster preparedness experts put together a solid program for all participants (it’s free to attend and we’d love to see you there!).
SF CARD also has severe weather preparedness training opportunities tailored to your needs, and there are resources abound in San Francisco and the wider Bay Area that are dedicated to positive climate action. If you’re ready to combat the longer term impacts of climate change, our friends at SF Environment have a wealth of practical information focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through realistic changes in our everyday lives.
Let’s remember that when potential disaster scenarios intimidate us, whether it’s climate change, an earthquake, or the zombie apocalypse, it’s knowledge and our own action that lead to empowerment.
How will your organization respond to climate change? Let us know in the comments!