Climate Change

Freshwater Future’s Climate Program focuses on how to recognize and incorporate climate change adaptation into the work you are already doing to protect water resources.  The need for climate change adaptation is based on the fact that no matter how much we attempt to mitigate greenhouse gases, it is evident that sufficient results cannot be achieved in the short term.  The Earth is committed to continuing climate change.  We cannot eliminate at this moment in time climate change impacts.  These impacts will play out everywhere – in cities, rural communities, inland lakes and rivers, forests and other areas.  The impacts will include more intense storms, increased precipitation, flooding of communities as well as drought and water supply shortages.  These impacts will cause property damage as well as damage to ecosystems. Thus, to protect both human and natural communities, we must develop climate adaptation strategies.

No matter where you live, changing weather patterns can have an impact on your community. From changes in rain and snow with stronger storms and increased flooding to longer droughts, these impacts will need to be addressed in our communities. If your community is working to address issues such as how to handle and treat stormwater, minimize flooding, prepare for droughts and heat waves, all while meeting your budget restrictions now and in the future, taking climate change impacts into account in your planning and decision-making could protect your community’s infrastructure and natural resources and may even save you money in the future.

What is Climate Change?

Climate change is a significant and lasting change in weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. Climate change is caused by both natural (e.g. volcanic eruptions or changes in solar activity) and human activities (e.g. burning fossil fuels or cutting down lots of forests).


The Earth’s climate is changing. Adapting to climate change means understanding what sorts of changes are happening already and may happen in the future. Changes happen both in the climate system itself and in the human and natural systems.

Read our Primer on Climate Change and Adaptation in the Great Lakes Region

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