Adapting to Climate Change

Hurricane Katrina #1604
Photo credit: FEMA/John Fleck. Aerial photo of destroyed Mississippi gulf coast Highway I-90 as a result of winds and tidal surge from Hurricane Katrina.

People around the world are trying to tackle climate change in two main ways – mitigation and adaptation…

What is the difference between climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation?

Climate change mitigation is trying to slow down climate change so the earth stops warming. This is done by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that are in the air. Since carbon dioxide is the most important greenhouse gas, reducing carbon pollution is necessary to keep climate change from getting worse. We can all take actions to reduce our carbon pollution. Ride a bike or take a train instead of driving. Drive a fuel efficient car. Insulate your home so you use less energy for heating and cooling.

Climate change adaptation is adjusting to the changes that have already happened – are going to continue happening – because of climate change. We know that heat waves are more severe and more common than in the past. Since we know this, we can plan ahead so that the impacts are reduced. Flooding is another type of extreme weather event for which we can plan ahead. One way you can plan ahead is by creating a family emergency plan and emergency kit.


New I-90 bridge_FEMA_Tim Burkitt
Photo credit: FEMA/Tim Burkitt. The new I-90 bridge was built to withstand hurricane force winds and waves similar to Hurricane Katrina. It was also built higher up from the water.


Another way to help reduce the impact of a flood is by building a rain garden. Rain gardens can help capture storm water and reduce flooding in the streets. Here is more information on how to build one.

Cities can plan ahead by improving sewer systems so they can handle more storm water than before. This reduces the chances that sewage will get into lakes and rivers that provide us with drinking water.