My Home is at Risk From Climate Change — Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Direct Impacts

Firstly, climate change can impact us in numerous ways — some of them can have DIRECT impacts on our home, for example a climate-driven storm can rip our roof off; water restrictions due to drought might prevent us from saving our garden and it all dies (‘shoulda got those rainwater tanks!’); or a heatwave might be so intense that we can’t stay at home because it’s too hot.

Adapt-Retreat Matrix (layer 1), by author

Indirect Impacts

The next layer of impacts can be indirect, and this is where the impacts get complex and numerous. An example might be the local power grid going down during a heat wave, so your local shops can no longer trade and their refrigerated food / stock spoils if backup generators aren’t in place. This indirectly affects you in that you can’t access their services, and also has a knock-on effect in your local community and economy.

Scale of Impact, or Who is Best Placed to Deal With It?

The next layer relates to scale. Some climate risks are very localised to your home, like the roof being ripped off example above. Other risks are at huge scale — for example an extended and brutal heat wave impacts an entire region, even multiple States. Or sea level rise impacts an entire city or economy — especially when airports and seaports are compromised.

Adapt-Retreat Matrix (layer2), by author

How Much Risk Can You Tolerate?

To avoid putting you to sleep I’m not going into the detail of how to work out how likely it is that a climate impact might happen or how severe the consequences are, and these diagrams don’t include those considerations (you can visit other posts of mine to explore these issues).

Adapt-Retreat Matrix (layer3), by author

Is Adaptation Viable?

The thing is, designing adaptations is the easy part (I can say that because that’s what I do). In pretty much every scenario we can determine what adaptations are necessary to address a climate risk, we can predict with some certainty how likely it is that various climate impacts will happen, and we can anticipate what their consequences might be.

  • Climate change impacts range from direct to indirect, and from localised scale to large scale
  • There may be direct impacts for your home that can only be addressed at larger scale — City or government
  • Climate adaptation is a team effort and requires collaboration between all levels of government — everyone has a part to play, and adaptation at home may be unviable without this.
  • The gap between what adaptations are necessary and what is affordable can be bridged — through innovative finance, re-allocation of capital, and re-prioritisation of infrastructure strategy



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Digby Hall

Digby Hall

Climate adaptation architect, striving to help tackle climate change through positive adaptation. Think. Move. Act.