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How to Live
With It
Humans do not lack for advice on how to live with our
circumstances. A Google search, that yardstick of ubiquity,
yields more than 55 million results for how to live with.
Make it how to live with climate change, and the results
dropto about 44,000. Thats a lot of ideas. Surely we can
find a few that will help us adapt to what we cant fix.
If its true that we learn by doing, then the learning
has begun. What we face is daunting: extreme heat and
weather; threats to water, crops, and health. But with tech-
nology and ingenuity, Earths custodians are finding new
ways to manage our changed reality. Patricia Edmonds

CONTRIBUTORS Text: Jeremy Berlin, Eve Conant, Karen de Seve, and

Daniel Stone. Graphics: Lawson Parker and Matthew Twombly


Warming Water
Whether its a liquid, solid, or gas, water is vital to our planet. We depend on it for drinking
and for sustaining our crops and animals, and countless species rely on freshwater eco- LAND ICE
systems to live. The oceans help modulate CO2 levels and maintain global temperatures The dynamic interactions between climate change and The freshwater that was once frozen in the Arctic,
while transporting nutrients and supporting marine ecosystems. As the climate changes, so freshwater resources on land are critically tied to the Greenland, Antarctica, and global alpine regions is
availability of good-quality water for human use. Today melting and spilling into the worlds oceans, streams,
will the freshwater and saltwater resources that form the foundations of our communities at least half the worlds population relies on groundwater and soil. As more ice melts, rivers and watersheds will
and economies. And as the climate changes, so willso mustour relationship to water. for safe drinking water. With projected urban growth fill at first. But as the ice dwindles, so will the runoff
expected to increase demand by 55 percent by 2050, and the available freshwater. If conservation doesnt
well have to manage future water use carefully. stem the problem, water-use restrictions loom.

Covering 71 percent of our blue-marbled planet, the seas now absorb so much
human-generated CO2 and energy from the sun that seawater chemistry and
temperatures are endangering many organisms. Changes in the marine environment
affect what thrives in the water and what we can harvest from it. Sea-level shifts are
altering coastlines and undermining buildings, posing risks to human life.

Keeping energy balanced Low snow Unfrozen Not-so-perma frost

Earth now takes in more heat from the sun than it releases. Springtime snow cover in The last ice of Bolivias Cha- When permafrost thaws,
The ocean stores 93 percent of that energy, which helps keep the Northern Hemisphere caltaya Glacier melted away in land changes. People in
the planet livable by moderating temperature extremes. will likely drop 10 to 30 2009, leaving mountain villagers the north rethink roads and
More moisture percent by 2100, making no choice but to move to cities, buildings, relocate cellars
Warm air holds more Ocean 93% comprehensive water which now must bolster water that store frozen game, and
moisture, increasing the management crucial. capture and storage. move from vulnerable areas.
humidity and heat. Ex- Melting ice 3
perts predict well adjust Warming continents and atmosphere 4
our outdoor activities to
reduce heat stress.
Dwindling freshwater
Water managers will need
a flexible mix of strategies.
Among them: harvesting
Sea salt Acidied oceans Rising seas rainwater, reusing water,
More precipitation and More CO2 makes the Reengineering coastal improving storage systems,
ice melt will change seas more acidic. That infrastructure and and diversifying crops.
ocean salinity, affecting thins the shells of crea- investing in water barriers
circulation and marine tures such as oysters and diversion systems
ecosystems. How well and scallops, and death can help protect against
adapt is uncertain. rates increase. storm surges and floods.

Warmer water Shrinking sea ice

As oceans continue to warm, As global temperatures rise,
marine ecosystems react. Arctic and Antarctic sea ice
Some species are able to will continue to shrink and
adapt by moving closer to thin. Less ice means less
the cooler Poles. energy reflected, and more
absorbed, by the ocean.

Thirteen large U.S. airports In New Orleans the Twin The atmosphere can River erosion, intensified by climate Mangrove restoration projects dot the planet: Vietnam, Djibouti,
have at least one runway at Span Bridge has been hold 7 percent more change, has destroyed part of Newtok, Brazil. These efforts not only protect coastal communities from
an elevation within 12 feet of rebuilt 21 feet higher, above water vapor for every rise Alaska. Water may reach the school, rising seas and storm surges but also help increase biodiversity
the current sea level. future storm surges. of one degree Celsius. the villages flood shelter, by 2017. and sustain livelihoods.


Crop Changes
Climate change may actually benet some plants by lengthening growing seasons and
increasing carbon dioxide. Yet other effects of a warmer world, such as more pests, CORN POTATOES RICE WHEAT
droughts, and ooding, will be less benign. How will the world adapt? Using an aggres- Climate change will open Potatoes tend to grow Unlike crops facing steep Virtually all climate
sive climate model known as HadGEM2, researchers at the International Food Policy new areas to corn (also best in cold tempera- reductions, ricewhich scenarios show reduced
known as maize) but will tures. In warmer climates, can grow in warm or wheat yields. Warmer
Research Institute project that by 2050, suitable croplands for four top commodities reduce production in cur- it may be possible to coldmay do well. weather globally is also
corn, potatoes, rice, and wheatwill shift, in some cases pushing farmers to plant rent areas. More farmers grow them farther north Researchers think Africas likely to spur more devas-
new crops. Some farmlands may benet from warming, but others wont, says IFPRIs in more places will grow it. or higher in mountains. output could double. tating crop diseases.
Ricky Robertson. Climate alone doesnt dictate yields; political shifts, global demand,
and agricultural practices will inuence how farms fare in the future. The winners, re-
searchers say, will be farmers who modernize their methods and diversify their elds.
Northern European potato Changes in Asia, with its
farmers will see longer growing large populations and land
seasons. Fields farther south area, will affect the most
will become increasingly dry. people. India and China will
Change in potential average yields for experience major losses of
corn, potatoes, rice, and wheat in 2050 arable land.
Gain greater than 5%
0-5% gain or loss NO R T H
Loss greater than 5%

Area that produced 75% AMERICA EUR O PE

of corn, potato, rice, and
wheat yields in 2015

Global production change
Millions of tons

2000 2050 No place grows more corn

900 than the midwestern United
States. Despite a 20 percent
drop in production, the region SOUTH
will remain a global supplier. AMERICA
-24% Corn
-3% Wheat
More pests will make mid-
-11% Rice
elevation potato-growing
-9% Potatoes areas in the Andes less A USTR A L I A
300 productive. New varieties
may help maintain yields.

Many crops will suffer in West Africas rich soil and Indonesias rice produc- New parts of Australia
Climate change is likely to be Brazil. Under the Had- abundant water may support tion will be largely spared will become arable, but
most forgiving of wheat, but GEM2 model, corn farm- more rice. Parts of East Africa by climate change, but droughts will require
not enough to offset losses ers will see crops decline are believed to have great po- corn will decline as much efficient farming if growing
from other major crops. by nearly 16 percent. tential to expand production. as 20 percent. wheat is to continue.

A group of Native Americans called Eighty percent of In a warmer world, fish catches To meet demand caused by population Women, if they had the same NASA satellite technology
the Haudenosaunee Confederacy global deforesta- may increase up to 70 percent in growth, annual world agricultural pro- access to resources as men, identifying California fields
is preparing for climate change tion is caused by some regions but drop 60 percent duction will need to increase by 60 could boost yields on their idled by drought can help
through seed banking. agriculture. in the tropics and Antarctica. to 70 percent by 2050. farms by up to 30 percent. with water allocation plans.

High Heat
The world will feel different in 2100, when average temperatures will have risen
by several degrees. Every kind of landscape that humans inhabit will be affected: HEAT HUSBANDRY TAMING THE FLAMES
urban, suburban, rural; mountains, plains, coasts. More of the developing world will Although adjustments will vary by Fire-adapted communities could
acquire life-changing modern comforts. Youll have near-universal saturation of air- region, more farmers will switch to dot at-risk landscapes. Ringed by fuel
raising heat-tolerant livestock. That breaks where flammable vegetation
conditioning in warm climes by 2100, says economist Lucas Davis of the University of means more sheep, pigs, and goats has been removed, these protected
California, Berkeley. By powering those devices, though, well be contributing to global replacing beef cattle and chickens. enclavespopulated by citizens
warming. If we cant nd ways to turn down the heat, well nd ways to adapt to it. Yields of crops like soybeans could educated in fire safetyhelp safeguard
increase as carbon dioxide levels rise, home and health. Wildfires are pre-
but many crops will be at risk from dicted to rise more than 60 percent
drought and extreme weather. in some medium and higher latitudes.
The annual mean air temperature of a city can be 4 to 11F warmer than surrounding
rural areas during the day, and 4 to 9F warmer at night. Vegetation-rich green roofs
can mitigate this urban heat-island effect, lowering thetemperature by more than
5F on the hottest days; plants alsohelp manage excess storm water.

Reflective cool
roofs can block
up to 65 percent of
the suns radiation.
The U.S. National Climate
Assessments worst-case
Heat- and drought-tolerant
seeds may help plants
Diversifying livestock and
crops increases farmers
scenario: Global temperatures reproduce and survive income opportunities while
rise more than 11F by 2100. despite extreme weather. lowering their risk.

Urban forestry helps: Shade

trees can lower surface
temperatures of walls and Jerse
Je sey
ey cows
cowws have
haave smaller
mal er
buildings by more than 23F. declines
ness in
n mi
k prod
duct on
Reflective and permeable when
w hen ex
he expose
xposeded to o hea
eat Re
R esea are exploring
pavements lower surface sstress
ss than
han Hols
te ns wayss to breed
ways b eed lives
bre livestock
v sto like
summer temperatures, Shade,
d fans
s and d sp
e rs chickens,
h ckens
kens turkeys
k ys a and
d pigs
which can reach 108F. also
o help
pp prod
duction to
etter w

Vegetation can lower If average tempera- To adapt to higher temperatures, developing coun- Indias potential Year-round benefit: Californians will endure an average
surface temperatures by tures rise 21F, half the tries must spend $75 billion to $100 billion annually demand for cooling Evergreens planted on the of 40 to 53 extreme heat days by
up to 40F, with shade population could face until 2050. Mitigation costs are projected to be $140 is 14 times as great north side of buildings block 2050, and 40 to 99 days by 2099.
and evapotranspiration. unlivable conditions. billion to $175 billion a year for the next 15 years. as the U.S. demand. winds, lower heating bills. The historical average is four a year.

Wild Weather
Torrential hurricanes, devastating droughts, crippling ice storms, and raging heat The price of natural catastrophes
Costly storm and flood damage to burgeoning coastal infrastructure is
wavesall are extreme weather phenomena that can claim lives and cause untold RISING SEAS, RISING CONCERNS growing. Innovations such as building floating villages and relocating
damage. Climate change inuences severe weather by causing longer droughts and Climate change may not cause a particular storm, vulnerable assets away from rising seas can reduce risk and losses.
higher temperatures in some regions and more intense deluges in others, say climate but rising sea levels can worsen its impact. In 2012 a
nine-foot storm surge from Hurricane Sandy hit New billion* Japan
experts. Among the most vulnerable are communities in exposed mountain and coastal York City at high tide, making the water 14 feet higher earthquake,
regions. In those settings worldwide, citizens are adjusting to new weather realities by than normal at the tip of Manhattan. Flooding destroyed 3 Katrina tsunami
strengthening warning, shelter, and protection systems. neighborhoods and beaches in outer boroughs. The
sea level in this area is rising by more than an inch each 2 Ivan Sandy
decadetwice as fast as the global averageand is Andrew
predicted to rise 11 to 21 inches by 2050. To prepare, 1
the city is implementing coastal resiliency measures: A
SURVIVING STORMS multiuse project will create more green spaces for city
A fierce cyclone hits Bangladesh about every three residents as well as a system of floodwalls, berms, and
1980 1990 2000 2010 14
years. In 1991 Cyclone Marian killed 140,000. In 2007 retractable barriers for enhanced storm protection.
*Values as of 2014 adjusted for inflation
Cyclone Sidr flattened 565,000 homes, but a warning
system and fortified shelters helped limit deaths to
Imagine the day we can
3,500. Today restoring coastal mangroves and hillside capture the energy of a 904
forests aims to stave off surging seas, landslides, and 91
floods during future storms. hurricane and use it to power 2014
a city that would otherwise
have been destroyed.
SUCCUMBING TO HEAT Neil deGrasse Tyson
The global average temperature in May 2015 was the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the
highest on record. In India some 2,200 people perished American Museum of Natural History
during a ten-day heat wave when reported highs hit
113F (45C). To cope, the city of Ahmadabad offered
potable water and cooling centers in high-risk areas
and trained health aides to treat heat-related illness. 413

Catastrophes on the rise

Meteorological records show a rise in
weather-related disasters since 1980. NUMBER OF
Climate change affects some weather, WORLDWIDE
but experts caution against blaming it CATASTROPHIC
for every extreme event. EVENTS


Extreme temperatures, 1980
drought, forest fire total 88 400
Flood, mass movement Earthquake, tsunami, volcanic activity
Though they can be extreme, geophysical events are not
174 directly associated with changes in climate and weather.

Tropical, extratropical,
convective, and local storms
1980 1990 1992 2000 2004 2005 2010 2011 2012 2014
Notable natural disasters: Hurricane Andrew Hurricane Ivan Hurricane Katrina Japan earthquake, tsunami Hurricane Sandy

In 2006 the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Insurance companies can adjust to climate change No more than 20 Promising sunny weddings, a An earlier arrival of spring will
Standards (PETS) Act was created in the U.S. by raising premiums on threatened properties. But if percent of farmers European company can set up lengthen the pollen season. By
to address the needs of animal companions property owners choose not to pay, the government in India are insured cloud seeding so rain falls some estimates, pollen levels
after a major disaster or emergency. may have to pick up the tab for damages. against crop loss. before the big day. could more than double by 2040.

Health Risks Trauma from floods, droughts,
and heat waves can lead to
mental health issues like anxi-
ety, depression, and suicide.
Climate change isnt just bad for the planets
healthits bad for peoples too. Effects will
More heat can mean longer
vary by age, gender, geography, and socio- allergy seasons and more
economic statusand so will remedies. respiratory disease. More
rain increases mold, fungi,
A recent international study in the Lancet and indoor air pollutants.
says that many more people will be exposed
to extreme weather events over the next cen-
tury than previously thoughta potentially
catastrophic risk to human health that
could undo 50 years of global health gains. Power outages in Mosquito-borne dengue
extreme weather fever has increased 30-
Beyond the direct impact of extreme could cripple hospitals fold in the past 50 years.
weather, climate change can affect a persons and transportation Three-quarters of those
systems when we exposed so far live in the
well-being in other, less direct ways, by need them most. Asia-Pacific region.
exposure to such things as air pollution, wa-
terborne diseases, famine, and malnutrition.
Solutions are in the works. In ood-prone Senior citizens and poor
Benin, the national health insurance policy childrenespecially those
already afflicted with malaria,
has been expanded to cover malaria and Crop declines could Poorr air quality
y can interfere malnutrition, and diarrhea
intestinal infectionswhich are likely to lead to undernutrition, with outdoor activities such as tend to be most vulnerable
hunger, and higher food biking and walking, proven to to heat-related illnesses.
increase as the world warms and sea levels
prices. More CO2 in the combat diabetes and obesity.
rise. In the steamy Philippines, programs air could make staple
are helping low-income neighborhoods crops like barley and
soy less nutritious. Drought and chronic water
residents manage weather-related risks shortages harm rural areas
with small-scale loans, hygiene education, and 150 million city dwellers.
and local waste and water control. If localities dont adjust
quickly, that number could
Meanwhile public health experts be nearly a billion by 2050.
everywhere are calling for far-reaching
improvements that will help people stay Occupational hazards such
as risk of heatstroke will rise,
healthy despite oods, droughts, and especially among farmers and
heat waves. Theyre backing greater construction workers. Labor
could shift to dawn and dusk,
access to clean water, sanitation systems, times when more disease-
vaccinations, and childhood health care. carrying insects are out.

Hotter days, more rain, and

higher humidity will produce
more ticks, which spread
infectious diseases like Lyme
disease. Ticks could be in much
of the eastern U.S. by 2080.
Soil degradation, fresh- Rising sea levels can threaten Extreme weather
water scarcity, population freshwater supplies for people usually affects older,
pressures, and other forces living in low-lying areas. More sedentary people more
related to climate change are severe storms can cause city than younger people
potential causes of conict. sewage systems to overflow. with greater mobility.

Wildre-sparked pollution Climate refugeespeople forced

can lead to respiratory prob- to move into crowded conditions
lems. And ozone also can be by extreme weather or rising seas
deadly: It may have caused typically face an increase in health
half the deaths in Europes risks such as undernutrition, food-
2003 heat wave. and waterborne illnesses, measles,
and respiratory infections.