Introduction to Climate Change
Climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time (i.e., decades to millions of years). Climate change may refer to a change in average weather conditions, or in the time variation of weather around longer-term average conditions (i.e., more or fewer extreme weather events). Climate change is caused by factors such as biotic processes, variations in solar radiation received by Earth, plate tectonics, and volcanic eruptions. Certain human activities have also been identified as significant causes of recent climate change, often referred to as "global warming".
Detroiters are seeing effects of climate change, such as extreme rain events that can cause major flooding. According to recent projections by the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences & Assessments (GLISA), dangerously high temperatures lie ahead for our city, as well as more frequent and severe flooding from extreme storms that can lead to water contamination and damage to infrastructure and property. People with lower incomes living in urban areas are especially at risk from exposure to extreme heat. Allergies and respiratory problems from air pollution are both intensified by a warming climate, a risk for many and especially for children, the elderly and those with asthma. All of the impacts from our changing climate bear a price tag that households, businesses, and municipalities can ill afford.
Detroit Green House Gas Inventory
This is a comprehensive inventory of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, which is the first of its kind for Detroit. It is a significant milestone for DCAC and a key step toward our city’s efforts to find opportunities to mitigate climate change, to increase energy efficiency, and to increase our resilience to the impacts of climate change. This inventory provides the city with a baseline from which to track emission reductions and energy use—both citywide and within the City of Detroit municipal government.
Detroit is considered to be the second most impacted of the top 40 U.S. cities. Although Detroit is not threatened by global sea level rise it faces some major impacts. As you will read in the report Detroit has already has experienced a measurable increase in average temperature directly linked to climate change. The increase has mainly come from over night temperatures during heat events. Heat events also trigger asthma attacks. Detroit has three times the asthma as national average. In August 2014 Detroit experienced flooding which again overwhelmed storm water systems in the city and suburbs alike. The costs were astronomical. To make matters worse 100-year, 500-year, and 1000-year floods are increasing at an alarming rate.
The Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Detroit
Detroit Climate Change Vulnerability Report
Detroit faces many threats today that only compound if we continue to put off dealing with climate change right now. The costs to Detroit and it’s residents only climb higher as the clock inaction ticks away. More extreme weather events without addressing climate change means yet more expense and disruption to residents and businesses in the city. More high heat days means an increased number of health problems brought on by heat stress. As the polar weather systems continue warm and destabilizes sending polar weather systems further south, more of our most vulnerable neighbors are put at risk. Many of these vulnerable neighbors are put into an extreme financial hardship regardless if they experience health or safety issues...
The Detroit Climate Action Plan
A Strong Comeback For Our City and Communities. The Detroit Climate Action Plan (CAP), is an opportunity for Detroit to come back in a way that is built on good paying jobs going hand and hand with a clean Detroit, better health, strong services and lower costs for businesses and residents. As Detroit rebuilds, we have a opportunity to do so in ways that will help ensure our city and communities stay resilient and strong in the face of growing challenges from a changing climate. The steps we take to adapt for this era will create good jobs, improve our air, health and public safety, and bring down costs. That’s what the Detroit Climate Action Plan is all about – it’s part of a comeback path for our city in an era when success or struggle will in part hinge on actions now to prepare for more severe climate change impacts ahead. Because Detroit is rebuilding now, we have a special opportunity now to get this done. Involvement and expertise from the most diverse possible set of organizations, institutions, businesses and individuals in our city is critical in making it work. Preparedness action is cost-effective action and economy-building action. The kinds of action steps that Detroit businesses, community groups, municipal leaders, health experts and many others are coming together to discuss for the Detroit Climate Action Plan are also actions that will contribute to our city’s economic comeback. For example, steps to reduce air pollution such as increased energy efficiency and green energy create jobs, reduce bills and bring health care cost savings. Actions at the street and household level to reduce storm water runoff to counter flood risk can create jobs, spur economic activity and avert future disaster mitigation costs. Cooling centers to help residents cope with heat will support jobs and curb health costs. Increasing recycling rates rather than burning trash cuts GHG emissions, cleans the air of many respiratory illness ( like asthma) causing pollution all while increases the number of jobs in Detroit. The list goes on. Below are the working groups contributing to the creation of the Climate Action Plan or (CAP)
Business and Institution
Working Group for Businesses and Institutions Contributing to the (CAP)
Contributing to the Energy section of the CAP
Parks, Public Space and Water Infrastructure
Working group working on the Parks, Public Space and Water Infrastructure part of the CAP
Homes and Neighborhoods
Working group contributing to the Homes and Neighborhoods section of the CAP
Working group contributing on soild waste aspects of the CAP
Group working on health sections of the plan
DCAC has developed a survey to gauge Detroit resident’s interest in and impact of climate change in their lives. The information gathered from this survey will be used to help develop the city of Detroit’s first Climate Action Plan, which will be launched this year. Students will work with the DCAC Field/Community Organizer to distribute and analyze survey results. Distribution of the survey will include attending events, community meetings and going door to door. DCAC will be setting up tables at various events around the community. Please stop by we would love to hear from you. We will have information and help get you the resources you need to help your neighborhood address livability in the era of climate change. Talk to us about the Climate Action Plan. We want to hear your input. There are many ways many ways you can help. We would love to hear what you have chosen to do as a personal Climate Change Project. Maybe you what to see how you can get involved in helping us Detroiters build Detroit up as the global model of a vibrant urban center where all thrive in environmental, economic and social health.
Young people are who we are building our city for. The most extreme impacts of climate change will be burdened upon Detroit’s youth if we choose inaction today.
Personal Climate Change Project
All you have to do is take on something at a personal level that impacts your day-to-day life. The project would be simple, achievable, measurable and personal.
Achievements & Awards
- Convened several community meetings to inform residents about DCAC and receive input on Workgroup Frameworks
- Selected as one of 10 cities to host a Youth Climate Summit – partnered with U.S. Department of Energy, Michigan Science Center, Detroit Public School, Wayne-RESA, The Wild Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Association of Science-Technology Centers
- Selected as a project by the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment Master’s Project Team. The team conducted the city’s first municipal and community-level greenhouse gas inventory. The published results of the inventory were picked up by several media outlets.
- Partnered with Detroit Public Schools to host a Youth Climate Summit, which brought together over 200 youth to discuss the impact of climate change on their lives. Selected by the University of Michigan School of Public Health to create a community Toolkit addressing climate adaptation and mitigation.
- Hired a community/field organizer. Partnered with Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), Wayne RESA and two Detroit Public Schools—Gompers Elementary-Middle School and Cody DIT—to develop a climate change art project.
- Conducted five (5) focus groups: environmental leaders, City of Detroit departments, business leaders, and two (2) with residential leaders. The input from the focus groups will inform the development of the plan and ensure that Detroiters’ concerns are represented.
- In April 2013, DWEJ’s Director of Policy and one of DCAC’s founding members received national recognition as a Community Resilience Leader – White House Champion of Change.
- DCAC partnered with Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments (GLISA) to develop “The Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Detroit, Michigan,” which outlines expected climate impacts on temperature and precipitation and the implications for air quality, flooding and stormwater management, water quality and infrastructure.
- DCAC partnered with the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning to develop a comprehensive report defining climate change vulnerability in Detroit. They also developed a framework for our work groups, which provided guidance for developing innovative goals and action plans.
- DCAC established six (6) work groups to develop climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, including: Homes and Neighborhoods, Parks/ Public Space/ Water Infrastructure, Public Health, Solid Waste, Business/Institutions