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In Hottest Year on Record, a Wake Up Call for Cities and Counties

by Don Knapp

It’s official: Today NOAA announced that 2012 was the hottest year on record for the continental United States, and the second most extreme year on record in terms of severe weather events. Nearly two dozen U.S. cities broke or tied their maximum temperature records.


A powerful way to make sense of this historic year and what it means for our nation and our future is to zoom in and examine the impacts of extreme weather at the community level, where we can see first-hand how a warming world is affecting our safety, our health, and our economic well-being. It's also where we find immediate solutions. As Sandy taught us, local governments are the first responders after storms destroy infrastructure—or heat waves roast apartment buildings, or floodwaters inundate main street. And they are responsible not just for emergency response but proactive planning to create more prepared, resilient communities.

 

Fact Sheet on Local Governments, Extreme Weather and Climate Change 2012

ICLEI has developed a fact sheet detailing how 20 leading cities and counties have experienced extreme weather in 2012—as well as the past several years—and what actions they are taking to protect their community members, infrastructure, and economic assets. Click to view examples from Norfolk and Broward County to Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Eugene, OR.

Get the Fact Sheet (pdf)

 

Cities and Counties Taking the Lead...Again

"2012 has been a wake-up call for local governments,” says Michael Schmitz, ICLEI USA’s Executive Director. “While it’s been easy for some members of Congress to pretend like this isn’t happening, America’s city and county governments don’t have that luxury.  Today's news underscores the need for local government to prepare for the new reality of more frequent extreme weather.

“We need to build more resilient communities that can withstand the impacts of climate change. The good news, as our fact sheet shows, is that cities and counties continue to take the lead on climate and energy issues,” adds Schmitz. “They’re reducing greenhouse gas emissions, developing climate adaptation initiatives, scaling clean energy, and strengthening their local economies in the process.”

 

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