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10 ways Oregon can adapt to climate change

To do to prepare for climate change: Make maps, conduct research, improve emergency response systems ... and buy a crystal ball?

To do to prepare for climate change: Make maps, conduct research, improve emergency response systems … and buy a crystal ball?

Lest we get too depressed following the release of a 400-page report on the threats of climate change to Oregon, the state has also released a framework for adapting to the most likely changes.

I’ve outlined the top 10 risks and adaptation strategies provided in the “framework” below. But I’ll give you the highlights in my own words first:

  • Hotter temperatures? Get ready to respond to more heat waves and smoke emergencies.
  • Uncertain water supplies? More droughts? Find better ways to store, conserve and recycle the water you have.
  • More wildfire? Reduce the risks of damage to nearby houses. Restore forest habitats so they’re more fire-resistant.
  • Warmer, acidic ocean water? Start studying what that means for the critters we rely on.
  • Erosion and inundation on the coast? Better make a map of the most vulnerable areas and start planning for the damages.
  • More diseases, invasive species and pests? Keep an eye out for them. And find ways to fight them.
  • More major rain and flooding events? We’re going to need another map here. And probably some extra hands to help assess and repair the damage.
  • More landslides? Tell people who may be at risk what they can do about it.
  • Plants and animals losing their habitat? Surely we can find a way to brace them for the changes and manage what’s left.

Ok, here’s the extended version (did I oversimplify?):

  1. Very likely risk: Increasing temperatures and extreme heat events; Action: Boost public health system capacity to respond to heat waves and smoke emergencies – especially in isolated and vulnerable populations.
  2. Very likely risk: Reduced snow pack and changes in water supply; Actions: Help landowners restore wetlands, uplands and streams to increase natural water storage capacity. Improve real-time forecasting of water availability. Improve technical assistance and incentives to increase storage capacity, conservation, water reuse and efficiency.
  3. Likely risk: Increased wildfire; Actions: Plan to reduce vulnerability to natural hazards, restore ecosystems to withstand natural wildfire, improve standards for reducing exposure to fire risk in areas where forests and neighborhoods overlap, improve public health agencies abilities to respond to wildfire emergencies.
  4. Likely risk: Increase in ocean temperatures and acidity; Action: Increase research on the impacts of these changes on estuarine and near-shore marine habitats, including commercial and recreational fisheries.
  5. Likely risk: Increased incidence of drought; Action: Improve technical assistance and incentives to increase water storage capacity, conservation, reuse and efficiency.
  6. Likely risk: Increased coastal erosion and inundation from increasing sea levels, wave heights and storm surges. Action: Map at risk coastal shore lands and develop long-term adaptation plans.
  7. Likely risk: Changes in species distribution and abundance; Action: Identify ways to manage ecosystems to improve their resilience to habitat changes.
  8. Likely risk: More diseases, invasive species and pests; Actions: Increase monitoring, detection and control measures, increase surveillance for infectious diseases to humans, increase education, seek new resources for detecting and fighting diseases and invasives.
  9. Risk: More extreme precipitation events and bigger floods; Actions: Inventory past flood conditions and map future projections, and improve capabilities to assess and repair damaged transportation infrastructure.
  10. Risk: More landslides; Action: Develop public education and outreach on landslides and how to adapt to new risks.

Northwest climate change

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