Combating climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century. To discuss this challenge, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory convened the America Resilient virtual climate conference on April 14, 2021. The conference report is now available for free download on the America Resilient website.
Everyone is feeling the increasing effects of climate change across the United States, from the record-breaking 2020 wildfire season to the Southern freeze of February 2021, which caused the electrical grid in Texas to collapse. Participants at Argonne’s conference focused on ways to mitigate likely human suffering, loss of biodiversity, and disruptions to critical societal systems and functions. Three key themes emerged: prioritizing environmental justice; addressing the need for high-accuracy, high-resolution climate models; and equipping decision-makers to plan for adaptation and resilience.
“While it’s critical that we decarbonize our economy as quickly as possible, the emissions we’ve produced have already baked in weather patterns that will unfold over years to come,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “These once-in-a-century storms are going to keep coming, but not all of them need to be crises.”
Currently, some communities encounter greater risks from climate change due to their location, demographics and access to resources and healthcare. “There are inequities that are baked into the energy system, and when you are trying to make your energy system more resilient, you need to make sure you’re not doing it in a way that’s going to further entrench these inequalities,” said Shalanda Baker, DOE Deputy Director for Energy Justice and the Secretary of Energy’s Advisor on Equity.
To build resilient communities, leaders and community members need science-based information about the impacts climate change will have. “While it’s critical that we decarbonize our economy as quickly as possible, the emissions we’ve produced have already baked in weather patterns that will unfold over years to come,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “These once-in-a-century storms are going to keep coming, but not all of them need to be crises.”
High-accuracy, high-resolution climate models can help us avoid crises by projecting climate impacts down to regional and local scales and taking action to mitigate their effects.
These localized models allow communities to more effectively assess immediate and future climate-related risks.
At the conference, experts sought to increase climate-change-related education and training and to democratize access to climate data to support informed decision-making.
The America Resilient Climate Conference report summarizes key discussions from the panels and keynote speakers. This resource is available to coordinate research, industry, government and community efforts to enhance climate resilience in the United States, and potentially around the world.
Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science.