President Obama met with farmers today in Fresno, California. He’s promised to help them deal with the drought that plagues the region. Short of making it rain, though, there’s not a whole lot the federal government can do to help farmers who don’t have enough water.
What Obama is promising is money. Some is for disaster relief, but the big-ticket proposal is a $1 billion Climate Resilience Fund, which he has included in his 2015 budget.
So what is “climate resilience”?
When floods devastated much of Northern Colorado this past fall, several waste water treatment plants were closed. Just how quickly they were able to get back online is a perfect example of climate resilience. It’s a community’s ability to recover from a natural disaster.
“Drought in California, hurricanes on the eastern seaboard, wildfires in the Rocky Mountain region,” all of these disasters, says Elizabeth Albright, an assistant professor of environmental policy at Duke, will intensify in the future. The president’s proposed climate resilience fund would provide money to help regions bounce back quicker from these disasters.
The fund would also support research.
“One of the most important things we can do is try to get a better understanding of the magnitude of floods, hurricanes and droughts that we might face,” says Glen MacDonald, director of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA.
One of the keys to creating resilience is being able to accurately predict just how bad a disaster will be. For example, scientists are coming up with new ways to study aquifers — natural underground reservoirs — to better predict the severity of future droughts.
“We can actually measure the loss of ground water through satellites,” says Dr. Juliet Christian Smith, with the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Using satellites, scientists looked at the Ogallala aquifer in the Midwest. They found that depletion of the aquifer is changing the gravitational pull of the earth, “because we are extracting ground water at such a great rate,” says Christian-Smith.
In addition to research and disaster preparedness, the proposed $1 billion would also fund new technologies to build more climate resilient infrastructure.
If you’re a member of your local public radio station, we thank you — because your support helps those stations keep programs like Marketplace on the air. But for Marketplace to continue to grow, we need additional investment from those who care most about what we do: superfans like you.
Your donation — as little as $5 — helps us create more content that matters to you and your community, and to reach more people where they are – whether that’s radio, podcasts or online.
When you contribute directly to Marketplace, you become a partner in that mission: someone who understands that when we all get smarter, everybody wins.
make public service
Thank you for doing your part!