Human actions are significantly impacting Earth's environment. Scientists have strengthened their ability to attribute certain changes, especially related to sea-level rise and extreme weather events, to global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions. The effects of climate change are more obviously beginning to influence communities around the world, and are expected to generate even more challenging consequences in the future. Even as governments and industry must work rapidly to cut emissions to prevent the worst effects of a warming climate, communities must also take actions now to begin adapting to the new realities that global warming will certainly bring. This is particularly urgent for people living in areas historically subject to extreme heat, semi-arid zones, coastal areas, small island nations, or communities that live in or near the Arctic Circle.
Our faculty and researchers deploy their expertise in natural sciences, engineering, and economics to model how global warming will influence sea level rise, coastal flooding, hurricanes, heat waves, and droughts, and the communities who experience them.
From a policy perspective, our researchers recommend policies and actions to both lessen climate change risks and also prepare for the impact that an already warming climate is having on communities.
Climate change is generally portrayed as an environmental and societal threat with entirely negative consequences. However, some sectors of the global economy may actually end up benefiting.
With coastal flooding events expected to become more frequent in coming decades due to climate change, climate adaptation public works, such as storm surge barriers and levees, could be a key element in protecting coastal communities from storm damages and sea-level rise. And yet, these kinds of large-scale projects have been slow to move from the drawing board to breaking ground.
In coming decades as coastal communities around the world are expected to encounter sea-level rise, the general expectation has been that people’s migration toward the coast will slow or reverse in many places.
Shuaizhang Feng is currently professor of economics and the Dean of the School of Economics, and the Dean of the Institute of Economic and Social Research at Jinan University in Guangzhou, China. From 2008-2010, he was a postdoctoral researcher in Prof. Michael Oppenheimer’s research group at C-PREE in the School of Public and International Affairs.
Cities only occupy about 3% of the Earth’s total land surface, but they bear the burden of the human-perceived effects of global climate change. Yet, current global climate models are set up mainly for big-picture analysis, leaving urban areas poorly represented.