Can your state handle a Hurricane Sandy? A raging wildfire? A severe heat wave?
Climate change has been linked to a number of natural phenomena, and we must take the necessary steps to protect ourselves and our home. However, some states are more prepared than others.
A new online tool from Georgetown Climate Center (a D.C.-based policy research group) is tracking what each state is doing.
The interactive tool, called the State Adaptation Progress Tracker, allows anyone to check if their state is preparing or making progress in combating climate change impacts such as storms and rising seas, says Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center.
The research group found that only 14 states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington) have adaptation plans and specific goals to protect itself — such as cutting emissions, increasing the resiliency of infrastructure, preparing for a rise in sea level, or improving conservation efforts.
Eight other states (Delaware, Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin) and Washington, D.C. have some level of planning underway.
“This research shows that a number of states have started implementing changes that will actually make their communities more resilient. That’s good news. Nearly half of all U.S. states also have at least some planning underway to prepare for climate change,” Arroyo adds. “Unfortunately, the research also shows that many states are still not treating this issue with the urgency that is called for.”
According to the data, it seems like the country as a whole could be doing a lot more work to safeguard itself from climate change. However, as Mother Jones reports, the idea behind the State Adaptation Progress is to foster healthy interstate competition, as well as help lawmakers from unprepared states learn from states that are leading the way.
“We hope that transparency will inspire more progress,” Arroyo says. “[States] are right there on the front lines. So it’s their policies that will be making the difference.”