Did you know that close to 30% of respondents to a recent DOEE's survey related to climate change "have experienced distress or complications due to climate change impacts"? One person wrote "The 2012 Derecho left my family without power for over 5 days in nearly 100 degree heat." Or did you know that Watts Branch in Ward 7 is one of DOEE's five priority planning areas in the Climate Ready DC Plan? Or that DC government has a wide range of resources to support residents and businesses in their effort to become more resilient?
As part of the city’s ongoing outreach efforts, DOEE's Kate Johnson recently shared these and other facts with the more than 40 people who participated in the February 3 APACC meeting on climate change. Events like this are important to keep communities East of the River informed about the likely threats posed by climate change as well as include them in plans for what can be done to improve the resiliency of this region.
Below is a video with highlights from the event as well as five questions and answers about climate change that every organization, policymakers, and residents in Ward 7 & 8 should know.
What do nonprofits which are typically not engaged in environmental issues need to know?
Many nonprofits in Wards 7 and 8, their clients, and other residents #eotr do not know that the District has identified them as being the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. We need to change how we are getting information out so more people and organizations are aware of the threat. We need to do outreach and engagement in a way that offers solutions and assistance, not just identifies problems. We need to better understand what the District is doing and be part of the answer to developing and implementing resiliency strategies.
Is climate change an environmental or economic issue?
Both. Extreme heat waves and flooding are predicted by the Department of Energy and Environment. They will have the greatest impact on older, sick, and poor residents. If you have less money, you have fewer options to respond to an emergency and the everyday demands of climate change. We need strategies that create job opportunities if we want people to be in a better position to respond.
How will these changes impact residents of Ward 7 & 8?
Here’s one example. Heat emergency days are expected to increase from 11 per year to 18-20 per year by 2020s, 30-45 per year by 2050s, and 40-75 per year by 2080s. Many households are already struggling to pay utilities and this increase in heat emergency days will only make it harder. The burden of these changes will therefor fall hardest on those who are most in need.Additionally, if you’re overweight or suffer from asthma, a heat wave will hit you harder. That is why we need strategies that improve public health outcomes if we want people to be in a better position to respond to climate change.
Many residents of communities east of the river live in areas of the city that are identified as at risk to flooding. What can be done about this?
According to a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists released last year, DC will lead the east coast in tidal floods by 2045, due to rising sea levels. The District government is responding to such predictions by developing a number of strategies to better understand the risks and mitigate the impact on residents as well as the environment. Many programs exist to help private landowners minimize the impact of flood events through stormwater management or through making buildings more resilient to flood events. Here’s more information for those who live east of the river and would like to participate in the programs that are offered by DOEE: https://doee.dc.gov/service/resources-residents
What can we do help build resiliency to climate change across the District?
The District talks about creating Community Resilience Hubs. The mayor’s office needs to engage us in the 100 Resilient Cities effort so we can develop realistic solutions that will help our neighbors who are most at risk. There are resources are available for those who are interesting in participating in the selection and preparation of the Hubs. Additionally, the city is doing a lot to increase the use of renewable energy sources, particularly solar. This will make energy more affordable as well as efficient. There are programs to help residents access renewable sources of energy and more information can be found here: https://doee.dc.gov/node/16802
Here are some additional materials for those who are interested: