What is Climate Resilience?

Climate Resiliency in its simplest form is adapting to climate change. This is such a vague definition, though, that I think bringing this term closer to home helps me, at least, think about what climate resilience can look like.

Michigan, a place that a lot of us Wolverines call home and know well, specializes in variable temperatures and weather conditions. I don’t know one person that doesn’t look at their weather app or ask Alexa what the temperature is going to be when they leave the house in the morning—or at least doesn’t regret it if they don’t. No one knows whether our winters are going to be super mild or if there will be massive blizzards and sub-zero temperatures. But Michigan’s temperamental climate, while possibly annoying, is actually a superpower. The variability of Michigan’s climate necessitates being able to adapt to change. That makes Michigan resilient and a term we call a Climate Haven. 

Weather in Michigan: 7am winter, 10am spring, 1pm summer, 5pm fall.

Climate Haven?

As the world’s climate continues to warm and become less predictable, Michigan is going to become a place that people will want to live in as they flee areas like Florida that will experience much more catastrophic changes in their weather patterns. This is why we call Michigan a Climate Haven. It will be a space for climate refugees (people fleeing an area due to climate change) to find safe living. 

It’s amazing that the place we call home has this inherent climate superpower, but unfortunately Michigan isn’t invincible. Michigan is likely to experience more severe thunderstorms, colder and snowier winters, and hotter summers. With these increasing weather conditions, Michigan’s power systems are most likely to be susceptible to failure. Increasing power outages are already being recorded throughout the state. The work that is being done here in Ann Arbor surrounding climate resiliency focuses on this issue. 

Climate Resilience in Ann Arbor

Currently in Ann Arbor, there are 2 active climate resiliency hubs. These are areas that house resources that people might need to ensure their safety when they lose power. That could include food, shelter, flash lights, heat or even information on how to prepare for more power outages. These two hubs are the Bryant Community Center and Resiliency Hub, and the North Side Community Center. The city has plans to develop two more hubs. 

On campus, there are not currently any established resiliency hubs, but there is research going into the effort of creating one. Everything is in really early developmental stages, but it’s exciting to think about the possibilities that come with having a designated space for climate resiliency efforts on campus. To learn more about these efforts, check out the PBSL podcast on Climate resiliency.

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