Living With Climate Change


One of the first items I bought upon moving to Los Angeles was an earthquake survival kit.

There hasn’t been a major quake since I arrived, but there have been devastating fires followed by incredible storms. A four-year drought was followed by an extremely wet season, which replenished its aquifers in a single year.

There was a silver lining to the heavy rainfall, but this is not a balance we can depend on, so California officials, in partnership with environmental organizations, have initiated “rewilding” of large swaths of land in preparation of further extreme weather patterns. One company, River Partners, has been purchasing farmland to plant thousands of acres of flood-tolerant trees in order to protect other farmland and cities from the impending floods that will result from unreliable rain patterns. With an estimated 2 billion people moving to urban areas in the next two decades, states like California need to be ready for this population flood, as well.

Getting safe


Our world is going to change dramatically in the coming decades, and we might as well get ready to act—and some of those actions just require a simple change to our daily choices.

For example, knowing your environment and educating yourself about potential problems where you live can help you be ready when and if a major storm—or, in my case, an earthquake—hits.

First, there are the one-and-done decisions. Your choice of footwear in the office might be supplemented by an extra pair of sneakers in your car or under your desk. Stock up on emergency items—whether in a kit of your own making or an emergency backpack like mine, which includes two survival blankets (for warmth and protection), two ponchos, a first-aid kit, light sticks, face masks, emergency food rations and drinking water.

Given that the perishable items have a shelf life, checking and replacing them becomes a matter of habit. Make sure you’re up to date on the expiration. Experts recommend having a week’s worth of food and water on hand; I’ll be upgrading my three-day kit for this reason.

Getting around


Then there are some changes in habit that require some effort—but they’ll pay off. Many people offload navigation around their neighborhood and city (and their spatial awareness) to their phone. On normal days, this works out fine, but in an emergency, this can prove disastrous. If your only understanding of your area is in your phone and the networks are down, navigation will prove impossible.

Which is why not turning on Waze to get around your neighborhood is essential. Sure, beat the traffic when you need to, but on occasion, try to navigate without any apps. I often take varied routes home while mentally landmarking buildings and streets, which is initially challenging in a non-grid city like Los Angeles. I also randomly turn down streets to see where they lead when I’m not in a rush. While this is a personal practice to help my memory system, it could prove especially important should an emergency happen. Know your terrain.

Getting goods


This isn’t to say technology doesn’t play an important role in emergency situations. In fact, storing your information in the cloud is another critical step for protecting your information (along with complex passcodes that are written down and safely stored somewhere you can always access). You want to be able to access bank and insurance records and other necessary contracts from anywhere you might end up.

One of today’s most contentious ideas is cryptocurrency. Though many treat bitcoin, Ethereum and others like stocks, that is not their purpose nor was it even considered in their design. While the tokenization of companies is fast becoming a reality, we’re still a few years away from mass engagement with cryptocurrencies—but that day is coming.

This can best be understood by looking at initiatives being conducted inside of refugee camps, which themselves are emergency centers. Microsoft recently teamed up with the United Nations to initiate the process of a blockchain-based identification system so that the world’s 1.1 billion undocumented citizens have a way of verifying their identities and safely storing their assets. (Blockchain is a model that is used as the basis for cryptocurrency transactions and can be used for any other type of information exchange.) Since many currencies are tied up with national governments, and many citizens who live in war-torn regions only have cash, flight from a sudden attack brings a chance that they cannot get to their life’s savings. And if their assets are stored in centralized banks, the controlling entity might not let them have their money.

Securing assets in a cryptocurrency means that you have access to your money anywhere on the planet. The volatility of markets makes this risky, but that will change as organizations figure out ways to stabilize their own market-based ecosystems. As more companies and governments maintain records on a blockchain—IBM recently signed a lucrative deal with the Delaware government for just this reason—using cryptocurrency to purchase products and necessities will become easier. This might prove essential in the case of an emergency.

Of course, there’s Money 1.0 to consider, as well: Always have cash on hand. I’ve become so invested in Apple Pay that this is one measure at which I fail miserably. Writing this article is a good reminder that I should always keep $100 in my wallet just in case. The future might be coming, but everyone takes cash.

Getting ahead


Climate change is affecting most of us at a relatively glacial pace. Every year, it will get a bit rainier or a bit drier. More super storms will wreak havoc; coastal residents need to reconsider their real estate decisions. For many of us, home improvements will prove to be the most effective strategy for dealing with a new climate reality. Will your roofing handle increased rainfall? Is it fireproof? You might think hard about your home’s insulation and windows, planting drought- and/or flood-tolerant flora, and harvesting rainwater.

Perhaps most important, though many aspects of climate change are considered irreversible, we can mitigate damage through our actions. Keep track of your own resources and waste management. Consider the impact of corporate interests’ use of natural resources and how you might support business or policy changes in the interest of the health of the planet. And remember those trees I mentioned that are being planted on farmland to protect other farmland and cities? Supporting nonprofits working to save ecosystems and forests is a great use of your resources.

Video credit: Eduard Muzhevskyi, ShutterstockPhoto credit: photka, Thinkstock; Jean-Paul Pelissier, Adobe Stock; Vitaly Taranov, Unsplash; mokee81, Adobe Stock