Adapting to climate change, our next global challenge

The coronavirus pandemic is challenging human resiliency like nothing else in our lifetimes. And when we come out on the other side of this crisis, we’ll have to address another existential challenge: adapting to climate change.

Some adaptations are already happening. In the last few years, people have responded to climate change–driven fires, floods and hurricanes by rethinking how and where to live. The city of Boston’s Climate Ready Boston initiative has created a master plan to help residents cope with increasingly common storm surges and rising sea levels (SN: 8/17/19, p. 16). California is trying to figure out how to harden its power grid to reduce the risk of wildfires (SN: 2/15/20, p. 22). Most Americans say they see signs of climate change where they live (SN Online: 11/25/19).

In this issue, we delve into the science behind key questions in adapting to climate change. Does it make sense to stay in place and develop mitigation measures, as Boston is doing? Freelance writer Mary Caperton Morton examines how data can help people learn the risks in their neighborhood and reviews practical fixes to help protect homes. Science News earth and climate writer Carolyn Gramling traveled to Orlando, Fla., as it prepares for its new role as a “destination city” for people driven from hurricane- and flood-ravaged coasts. And freelance writer Christie Aschwanden digs into the data to find out which personal actions make the most impact in reducing carbon emissions. As she points out, it’s OK to start small.

This is our spring double issue. Along with the special coverage on climate resiliency, subscribers will find a little treat from us to you: our Science News poster celebrating the periodic table. Enjoy! The next issue of the magazine will be in your mailbox in early June.

And of course, you can always find the latest news on our website,, including our in-depth coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Stay safe and stay in touch; we’re always happy to hear from you. Write to us at

Nancy Shute is editor in chief of Science News Media Group. Previously, she was an editor at NPR and US News & World Report, and a contributor to National Geographic and Scientific American. She is a past president of the National Association of Science Writers.