Adapting to Climate Change on the Coast: Changing Values, Behavior, and Policies

Coasts are experiencing the effects of climate change at the same time that coastal populations are growing.  Even if we reduce carbon emissions, we will have to make some adaptations to the effects of climate change.  Climate models, geological studies, and measures of sea levels show that waters are rising faster along coastlines in the northeastern United States than along other coastlines.  The northeast can become a global leader in coastal adaptation by reducing harms from storm surge, wind, and flooding, while protecting vulnerable people and affirming local values for coastal living.  Industry, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and social groups all need to act.  Priorities should be to reduce development along hazardous shorelines and to use adaptive building practices throughout coastal watersheds.  This paper was prepared for the ICCAP conference The Shore’s Future: Living with Storms & Sea Level Rise, Nov. 20-21, 2015.