Today’s Senate hearing  isn’t just about the science of climate change. It’s also about the actions that need to be taken now to adapt to the reality of a changing climate. Businesses and governments each have a critical role to play in building resilient communities and economies.
Business-as-usual is already being interrupted by extreme heat , historic drought, record-setting wildfires, and flooding. Events from water shortages to floods are disrupting the supply chains for such companies as Honda, Toyota , Kraft, Nestle and MillerCoors . By the end of 2011, the United States had recorded more billion-dollar disasters than it did during all of the 1980s, totaling about $55 billion in losses.
Actions taken today to make our nation more resilient to extreme weather will pay substantial near-term dividends and produce even greater long-term benefits. Failure to begin adapting now will mean the future costs of climate change in terms of damaged infrastructure, lost productivity, and loss of life will be even greater.
Fortunately, some business and government leaders are starting to address today’s impacts and anticipate the effects of tomorrow’s climatic changes. The federal government, more than a dozen states  and many more localities are planning for building greater climate resilience into their programs and communities. For example:
Faced with immediate and material impacts from a changing climate, businesses are already developing a number of responses. Following our 2008 study on business approaches  to assessing physical climate risks, C2ES is again undertaking an in-depth examination of strategies companies are developing to understand risks and opportunities from a changing climate. Among the cases we’re examining are:
Adaptation planning can limit the damage caused by climate change and reduce the long-term costs of climate-related impacts that are expected to grow in number and intensity in the decades to come. Building greater resilience into our economy to minimize losses from extreme weather requires concerted efforts from government, industry and community leaders.
These examples are a good start, but as today’s hearing is likely to show, much more needs to be done.
Meg Crawford is Markets & Business Strategy Fellow at C2ES