Making climate change impacts tangible and actionable for all of America’s communities
Most of America’s communities are unaware of the climate risks already hitting them. They face difficult and costly decisions as climate changes and becomes more damaging to critical local infrastructure and human health. Invest and adapt now, or fix and repair later? The stakes are high—with hundreds of billions of dollars to be gained or lost over the next 20 years and even more after that—but unfortunately for decision makers, actionable information is scarce and costly. Because of this, only the largest US cities (and a few companies) have made the investment to understand their options.
Incipient is a $6.35 million, two-year, philanthropically-funded project that will democratize climate adaptation information. We will bring detailed, actionable, verifiable information on climate risks to every county and city in America. Should they wait and repair the coming damage to their roads, bridges, and buildings, or will targeted, proactive, right-timed improvements cost less? What risks can they expect from rising seas or flooding, wildfire, extreme heat, or insect-born illness? What communities and populations have the most risk from climate hazards? What is the financial and human cost of waiting?
Often the communities that are hit hardest by climate events are those that already are the most vulnerable, have the least funds, and are least able to recover. Advance information and planning can save valuable time and money, but more than that, it can also save communities, it can save homes and businesses, and it can save lives.
Incipient will give all communities information so they can mobilize. Moreover, it can help prevent an approaching system failure—where those with information and means are able to advocate far earlier to protect their interests over those who might be even more vulnerable to the hardships of climate change.
Benefits of the Project
This project will:
1. give every community an actionable starting point for climate adaptation,
2. enable communities to save hundreds of billions of dollars,
3. highlight communities most at risk (including local economic and demographics), and
4. shape local, state, and national conversations on climate change.
Incipient will help decision-makers and communities understand and prepare for the fast-approaching risks and costs from climate change. It will identify where targeted, proactive investments save money and mitigate damage versus trying to fix things when they are damaged or destroyed, when people are displaced or sick, when drinking water is contaminated, and when roads and bridges are broken.
Decision makers will be able to begin to answer essential questions:
· What no-regrets moves should be started now?
· What adaptive measures can wait?
· How do expected costs compare to local budgets?
· Where is the expected climate burden highest, and how will it impact disadvantaged populations?
· Where will funding come from, and are new funding models required?
· Do some communities need to retreat, and if so, who decides?
Aggregated across America, the financial costs of climate adaptation will easily exceed trillions of dollars over the next 20 years—even if communities make prudent adaptive decisions. But proactive planning will still be hundreds of billions of dollars cheaper than a passive approach of reacting to losses as they occur.
This project will assess costs and options using a broad set of climate risk factors (e.g., sea level, heat, precipitation, wildfire, illness). For example, a report Resilient Analytics co-authored with the Center for Climate Integrity showed that it will cost $400 billion “just” to protect against rising seas over the next 20 years. Some communities already are wrestling with whether retreat is the only viable option.
Decision-makers will have the ability to understand what is coming and minimize the adaptation burden by making the best possible planning decisions. They will be able to confront the impact of climate change on America’s infrastructure and our people and further engage in conversation about the role of both adaptation and mitigation to ensure that more extreme results are avoided.
How it Works
Resilient Analytics has a highly advanced climate, engineering, and economics model. The model has been honed over 13 years and used on projects globally—from Africa (the World Bank) to Alaska (US EPA), and dozens of places in between.
The model accepts complex data inputs from recognized climate models, the risk levels to be analyzed (i.e., low to high climate change scenarios), standard engineering rules for local construction and maintenance, and detailed data on local infrastructure. It leverages its big data capabilities to provide faster, cheaper, more granular, and more accurate analyses than the manual approaches of the past.
Importantly, it considers impacts not only from single-event damage (i.e., a 50-year flood that hits hard) but also the more costly chronic damages from new climate patterns (i.e., daily impacts of heat, precipitation, and frost heaves on roadways, bridges, and buildings). Our work will focus on the next 20 years as this is a horizon that community planners must deal with today. We will analyze and publish information at the 1/16th grid level (i.e., an area 3 miles by 3 miles), and include granular overlays of local economics and demographics.
Our Approach and Structure
Over two years, IncipientTM will release climate impact analyses covering all counties, cities, and states in America. We plan to start with a pilot state (top candidate is Washington state, but we are evaluating several options) to hone our approach. The pilot will help us optimize how we do detailed analyses across a relatively wide area, summarize the information, and communicate it. Thereafter, we will plan and execute a national roll-out, likely in 4-5 phased groups of states.
We estimate this to be a $6.35 million project. To succeed, we will need a lean core team that supports analytics, general operations, and communications. Resilient Analytics will run the analyses, and we will grow the dedicated project team to support packaging local findings, dissemination of information, and engagement. We intend to identify and leverage regional communication partners to the extent possible so we can benefit from their local expertise and reach. While Resilient Analytics is the sponsor of this project today, the eventual home for this work will be within an independent nonprofit or as a project of a sponsoring non-profit organization.
Thank you for your time. We look forward to exploring how we might work together to democratize climate adaptation information, reshape the climate conversation, and empower communities for the future.
Interested in Participating?
We are currently soliciting interest from funders and partners. To learn more, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.