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individuals do to prepare for climate change?
Whether we know it or not, we constantly make decisions
that both contribute to climate change and that will be
influenced by climate change. Successfully adapting to
future climate change will require an understanding of
its causes and likely impacts and, through this, of the
ways to protect one’s self and one’s family
through specific actions. As individuals, we can have an
impact on policymakers’ decisions that relate to
climate change by becoming informed and engaged in the
The Role of the Individual
As residents of the New York metropolitan area, we all
make decisions that contribute to future climate change.
We depend on large-scale public energy and transportation
systems that contribute to climate change through their
greenhouse gas emissions. We may contribute to climate
change through personal decisions about where to live and
how to get to work, through our choice of appliances and
patterns of water use. But we also must understand how
we are likely to be affected by climate change, how an
increase in the frequency of storms, a rising propensity
for floods, and a metropolitan transportation system that
is dangerously close to the coastline could affect our
lives in the future.
The first step in taking action is to be informed. Just as public agencies cannot devise new policies without an understanding of the phenomena they want to change, so too we cannot make decisions without knowing what conditions are expected and what choices we have. Many websites produced by state governments and others provide information about the causes, impacts, and responses to climate change. See the Resources section of this website for more information.
Become Engaged in Your Community
Being informed can lead to taking action. Residents of
the tri-state area have specific concerns about climate
impacts, some of which are common to many urban areas and
some of which are unique to the New York metropolitan area.
There may be increases in the cost of electricity or homeowners’ insurance
rates. Many homes and businesses are located in areas that
will be prone to floods in the future. How will increased
summer heat affect poor and elderly urban populations?
There is often little that individuals can do in response
to these projected impacts, but they can demand that urban
policy makers take a long term view and recognize the need
to plan ahead so that cities, counties, and states are
prepared to meet the challenges posed by climate change.
Individuals can inform others about climate impacts through
conversations, letter writing, attending Community Board
meetings, and voting. What each of us does as an individual
becomes amplified when we engage others in the discussion
and persuade them that there is a need for a careful, reasoned
response to the impacts of current and future climate change
and variability. We can use our own understanding of the
issue to promote appropriate policies in government, public
utilities, and the private sector, all of which have an
important role to play in how well the tri-state area responds
to climate change.
Climate Change and Personal Responsibility. http://www.climnet.org/publicawareness/intro.htm.
Harriet Bulkeley and Michele M. Betsill,
"Cities and Climate Change: Urban Sustainability and Global
London: Routledge, 2003
Rosenthal, J., P. Kinney, K. Knowlton,
and J. Freeman, Eds. 2004. "Assessing Potential Public Health
of Changing Climate and Land Use in Metropolitan New
York." A Study by the New York Climate and Health Project.
Safe Climate.org. http://www.safeclimate.net/action
Print version (factsheet pdf)
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