Residents play dominos at the Riverview Senior Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, a designated cooling center for people seeking relief from the hot weather, on June 9, 2011. SOURCE: AP/Elise Amendola
Washington, D.C. —(ENEWSPF)–May 12, 2015. Major extreme weather events caused by climate change continue to show the need for major improvements to the roads, bridges, and other infrastructure upon which Americans rely. However, as a recent Center for American Progress report shows, combating the effects of climate change goes beyond redesigning hard infrastructure and lowering carbon pollution. The soft infrastructure of community and social networks—also known as social cohesion—can make communities more resilient to extreme weather events.
“Weather is often called the ‘great equalizer,’ but communities with the tools to work together fare far better than those that do not. This is especially important for low-income communities, which are uniquely disadvantaged against extreme weather,” said Danielle Baussan, CAP Managing Director of Energy Policy. “As climate change creates more and more instances of extreme weather, the role of the community in working to mitigate its effects will become even more important and could significantly affect how well communities cope. While it is critical that the United States invest in carbon reduction and infrastructure designed to withstand these extreme weather events, the soft infrastructure found in communities that share this social cohesion should not be ignored.”
The CAP report shows that during an instance of extreme weather, communities that practice better social cohesion are less dramatically affected before, during, and after these events.
Before an extreme weather event: Mapping low-income, climate-vulnerable communities can target weatherization, energy-efficiency measures, and other resources to prevent the worst impacts of extreme weather. Identifying these communities can also assist government efforts to foster social cohesiveness within those areas in order to improve climate resilience during and after extreme weather.
During an extreme weather event: Residents and organizations in more connected communities can assist with supplies and help prevent displacement while identifying local needs for government officials.
After an extreme weather event: Cohesive communities may have a shorter duration of climate displacement. Cohesive communities participating in voluntary coastal buyback programs may receive greater compensation than individual residents.