The Climate Explorer tool shows projections for maximum temperature (and seven other climate variables) from 2010 through 2100 for every county in the contiguous United States. Here, the display shows projected maximum temperature in New York County from 2020 through 2060, for a scenario in which emissions of heat-trapping gases continue increasing.
Step 1: Explore Climate Threats
Establish a team
Engage stakeholders and decide how you'll work together.
There’s a saying: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, bring others.” In almost every case, projects that build climate resilience require going far (linked terms in these Steps to Resilience pages provide access definitions and examples).
To ensure you have the broad support necessary to implement a resilience-building project, start by recruiting a comprehensive group of stakeholders. All the individuals and organizations that could be affected by the problem you hope to address—or its solution—are potential stakeholders for your project. To move a project forward most efficiently, focus on involving the groups and individuals who are willing to accept responsibility and assign resources to address the issues at hand.
Each "Take a step" instruction below encourages you to document your progress through this framework. You may want to download our prepared spreadsheet that you can use to capture your input.
Take a step: Make a list of the groups that could have a stake in your efforts.
Think about who has the ability to make decisions for groups you listed. Attempt to engage at least one person who is willing to represent each group’s interests in your effort. When inviting individuals to participate, keep your primary focus on the common values and shared interests of all potential stakeholders.
Take a step: List names and contact information for candidate representatives.
Investigate your regional climate
Consult authoritative information on your climate trends and hazards.
Understanding the hazards posed by weather events and climate conditions is an essential step in protecting yourself and the things you care about from them.
Members of your group who are new to the topic of climate can learn by reading Topic narratives on this site. For a slightly deeper dive, they may want to refer to relevant portions of the U.S. National Climate Assessment.
Access the National Climate Assessment:
Some members of your group may also want to explore one or more tools to visualize climate projections for the future. These tools describe results from global climate models and the conditions they project for the future.
Identify key assets and hazards
List the things you want to protect and the climate hazards that could impact them.
With a common understanding of current climate trends and potential future conditions, give serious consideration to how the things you value could be affected by climate and weather. Ask stakeholders to identify the people, places, and services—collectively referred to as assets—they feel are most important to protect. Giving all stakeholders the opportunity to describe what they value, and why, can be very useful in building a team with a shared vision.
Take a step: Make a comprehensive list of your group’s assets of concern.
For every key asset on your spreadsheet, consider the range of climate- or weather-related events or situations that could pose a threat to it. These are climate hazards.
Take a step: List weather- and climate-related hazards that could affect each asset you listed.
Assets that could be impacted by weather or climate have some level of “exposure.” Exposure is simply the presence of assets in places where they could be adversely affected.
For each asset-hazard pair in your table, describe the potential damage or consequences you could see if the hazard occurs. Consequences from historical events are also useful as benchmarks. These are the situations you want to avoid; the descriptions can be useful in later steps for gauging the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of any interventions you implement.
Take a step: Describe the potential and/or historical consequences that could result if the hazards you listed occur.
Define the scope of your project
Decide what your group is agreeing to work on.
As stakeholders learn more about climate and consider specific assets that may be threatened, individual visions of your broad goals may diverge. To keep the scope of your effort manageable, continue returning the focus to the group’s shared interests.
With the goal of reaching consensus on the project’s scope, invite all stakeholders to describe their view of the larger group’s problem or opportunity. Based on the input, work to delineate the scope of the problem that your active stakeholders are willing to tackle. Iterate as necessary to define the problem you hope to solve, including acknowledging other problems or issues you agree not to address. In most cases, the more clearly you define the problem, the easier it will be to find a solution to match it.
Take a step: Record stakeholders’ comments and develop a clear statement of the problem this group intends to address.
Do weather and climate represent a hazard to assets you value?
If the results of your explorations suggest that assets or resources your group values are threatened by climate and weather, CONTINUE TO STEP 2. If the answer is no, make plans to consider the question again at some point in the future, and develop your answer within the context of any circumstances that have changed.
Instructions on these pages encourage you to gather specific types of information. You may find it convenient to download this prepared spreadsheet and use it to record input as you move through the steps.
Access the Steps to Resilience Glossary for definitions and examples of words related to resilience.