Growing Returns

First-of-its-kind insurance report confronts climate risk

As many of us are witnessing across the globe this summer, the impacts of climate change are already upon us: the increasing severity of wildfires, more frequent and widespread extreme heat events, and the looming risk of floods and sea level rise even during a drought.

This is especially true for California, where wildfires fueled by a historic drought have already scorched three times as much land as they did in the same period of last year’s record-breaking season.

These climate impacts are not evenly distributed. They fall disproportionately on people with lower incomes, people of color, older adults, children and people with chronic health conditions.

wildfire

Building community resilience to fire and heat is an immediate imperative. Read more: Heat, fire, smoke and blackouts: How to live with our new reality.

As the destruction wrought by climate change continues to accelerate, state leaders and the insurance industry are exploring ways to make communities more resilient, especially the residents who are most vulnerable to climate impacts. Read More »

Posted in Climate Resilience / Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

Sea level rise threatens Miami’s future. Here’s how the Army Corps can help keep Florida, Florida.

Florida residents are on the frontlines of climate change, already facing sea level rise and increasing storm intensity. 

This is especially evident in Miami, due to its low-lying topography, porous limestone, dense coastal development and encroaching seas.  

To address these threats, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) produced the Miami-Dade Back Bay Coastal Storm Risk Management study. This multibillion-dollar proposal contains traditional, hardened infrastructure projects, including a massive seawall that would extend across Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami, reaching up to 20 feet in some places.

The proposal has received significant pushback from the public and stakeholders who are concerned about negative impacts to the environment, economy and quality of life.  

As the Corps seeks to address flood vulnerability in Miami and elsewhere, here are three ways the agency can reduce risk while also preserving the natural beauty of Florida’s coastal communities.

Read More »

Posted in Coasts / Tagged , | Comments are closed

10 ways policymakers can support climate resilience in the West

It seems every day I come across a heartbreaking headline about how extreme heat, wildfires and ongoing drought are plaguing the West.

Indeed, the climate crisis has hit home in the Colorado River Basin and is threatening everything from agriculture to water supplies. The basin’s two main reservoirs­ — Lakes Powell and Mead — are at record low water levels, threatening the water security essential to communities, wildlife, recreation and agricultural production across the Southwest.

To help policymakers address these pressing climate challenges, EDF contributed to a recent report, Ten Strategies for Climate Resilience in the Colorado River Basin, authored by Martin & McCoy and Culp & Kelly, LLP, that analyzed multiple approaches to building climate resilience and identified the top 10 priorities. Read More »

Posted in western water / Tagged , , | Comments are closed

This landmark water conservation agreement is good news for Arizona. We need more like it.

Water scarcity in the Colorado River is becoming more urgent by the day. As temperatures soar to record levels — 122 degrees in Phoenix last month — Lake Mead has plummeted to 37% of its capacity, the lowest level since the nation’s largest reservoir was filled in 1935.

Amid this dire picture comes one significant piece of good news: In the largest ever multisector response to drought, final funding has been committed to enable the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) to conserve nearly 49 billion gallons of water (or 150,000 acre-feet) in Lake Mead over three years.

This project is the largest single conservation effort to date, both in dollars and volume of water, in the Colorado River Basin. It is a harbinger of the unprecedented collaboration that will be required going forward to build resilience to climate change and water scarcity in the West.

Read More »

Posted in western water / Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments are closed

Hurricane season is here. We need a national plan to protect our coastal communities.

The Atlantic hurricane season is underway as many coastal areas still recover from an endless barrage of storms last year that culminated in the most active hurricane season on record. With climate change, we can expect to see more intense hurricanes, leaving many communities at risk. 

In fact, a new report indicates that as many as 32 million U.S. homes and $8.5 trillion in assets are vulnerable to hurricane damage. 

Read More »

Posted in Coasts / Tagged , , , , | Comments are closed

To meet sustainability goals, food companies need to slash methane

As the recent surge in corporate net zero commitments suggests, the risks associated with climate change are top of mind for today’s leading businesses and investors.

For companies that produce, process or sell beef, pork and/or dairy, there’s an often overlooked, invisible source of climate pollution lurking in the supply chain: methane.

An extremely potent greenhouse gas, methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide in the short term. This means cutting methane emissions is one of the fastest ways for businesses to make progress toward their sustainability targets, meet growing stakeholder demands for bold climate action and be more resilient.

The opportunity for leadership is especially urgent in the livestock sector, which is responsible for roughly one-third of all human-caused methane emissions globally.

While some food and agricultural companies are making progress on methane, there’s still a long way to go. Here’s what these companies need to know.

Read More »

Posted in sustainable agriculture / Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

Texas leaders made a big mistake ignoring water this session. But not all hope is lost.

Last weekend I paddled on the Blanco River with my family. We swam in spring-fed swimming holes, fly fished and lounged in shallow sections of the river, which was flowing nicely thanks to recent rains that ended drought conditions across Texas.

But it’s hard to ignore that Texas is sitting in the shadow of one of the worst droughts in history — one that’s crippling the rest of the West.

As temperatures rise and groundwater levels remain low with little rain in the forecast, it is imperative that we develop solutions to manage our water supplies more sustainably.

Unfortunately, state leaders put water on the back burner this legislative session, failing to take action on several water bills — even a benign bill to study groundwater and surface water interactions. But just because state leaders haven’t taken action doesn’t mean we can’t.

Here are three steps that all Texans can take now to build momentum behind protecting our rivers, streams and groundwater. Read More »

Posted in western water / Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

3 recent USDA wins and what the department should do next

Over the past several weeks, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has made important progress in advancing climate-smart agriculture and creating equitable opportunities for producers to be part of the climate solution.

Here are three recent examples of progress you may have missed in the news, plus next steps for the agency to continue this momentum. Read More »

Posted in sustainable agriculture / Tagged , , , , | Comments are closed

What does the executive order on climate-related risk mean for agricultural finance?

The recent federal executive order on climate-related financial risk institutes a whole-of-government approach to assessing and mitigating climate-related financial risk, with the goal of bolstering the resilience of financial institutions and the communities they serve.

As a sector dependent on natural resources and predictable weather conditions, agriculture is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Maintaining U.S. agriculture’s position as a global leader long into the future will require the sector to address climate risk head-on, and soon, with innovative financial solutions that move beyond managing risk and move toward financing resilience.

Here are some of the implications of the executive order for agricultural finance institutions, and opportunities for these institutions for support a more resilient and prosperous food system. Read More »

Posted in sustainable agriculture / Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

How a data-driven approach makes profitable on-farm conservation possible

New data and insights are now available from Precision Conservation Management, a partnership organization that connects 280 Illinois and Kentucky farmers with conservation specialists from local soil and water conservation districts to provide actionable data on conservation financials.

Over the last five years, PCM gathered field-level farm management data — including the number of passes across the field, the rate of inputs into those fields, tillage passes and cover crop use — integrating that management data with cost tables created by the University of Illinois to provide farmers with the financial outcomes of different conservation practices.

Here are the top three insights from five years of farm data. Read More »

Posted in sustainable agriculture / Tagged , , | Comments are closed