Resilience at the Water’s Edge

It’s sticky hot and humid here in North Carolina right now – the kind of days that don’t really cool down all that much at night. And even though those of us who grew up or have lived here for a long time are well used to it, it’s going to keep getting hotter. Already temperatures in the southeast have risen an average of 2oF since the 1970s and predicted to rise another 4-8 degrees by the end of the century. These changes have real impacts on all of us – Raleigh made the top 10 list for cities with the largest increase in 90 degree-plus days and Florida leads the way for increase in health-related heat risk.

On the flip side, while a visiting friend from the Bay Area was all too happy to see a real life downpour, the intensity of storms in our region has also increased causing flooding in some places and often disproportionately affecting those most at risk.

Our current issue of River Voices, Resilience at the Water’s Edge, highlights some of these climate impacts on rivers and people, as well as what steps communities are taking to prepare for and adapt to climate change with an eye to resilient approaches that consider equity and justice:

  • Jainey Bavishi with the Council on Environmental Quality writes about Princeville, North Carolina, where historic flooding has plagued a historically African-American community and how the federal government is coordinating and planning for smarter approaches across agencies and with states and tribes;
  • Charles Allen of New Orleans describes the City’s cutting edge efforts to establish resilience districts using green infrastructure and other approaches to create a community that can “live with water.”

Lois DeBacker and Adam Whelchel add to the conversation with advice on “asking the climate question,” and emphasizing the importance of engaging a wide and diverse range of community and watershed groups as part of building toward resilience.

Rebecca Wodder, Vice Chair of our Board writes:  “To survive and thrive in the face of these complex and multiplying challenges, we need to build the capacity to work together within  our communities and across watersheds.”

We couldn’t have said it better.

Read this issue and listen to people here in North Carolina tell their own climate story – then start to ask the climate question for the policies and practices in your own work and working with others.