Climate adaptation is an urgent policy priority. As local, state, and national governments confront the reality of a rapidly changing climate, they face the challenge of designing policy that balances many competing economic objectives.

The UCLA Climate Adaptation and Community Resiliency Initiative, housed in the Luskin Center for Innovation (LCI), seeks to advance the understanding of how climate change can affect vulnerable populations – including low-income households and workers exposed to climate-related occupational hazards – and inform actions to increase community-driven resiliency. The initiative focuses on research that can deliver data-driven insights in a rapidly evolving policy landscape. Current research includes assessments of heat-related risks faced by workers, low-income households, students, and expecting mothers. The research is linked through themes of:

  • Labor, Occupational Safety, and Human Capital
  • Public Health
  • Distributional Equity
  • Land Use and Urban Design

Labor, Occupational Safety, and Human Capital

Will We Adapt? Temperature, Labor and Adaptation to Climate Change (2018 working paper as part of broader ongoing study)
Authors: Jisung Park and Patrick Behrer

LCI Scholar Jisung Park and his collaborator Patrick Behrer are exploring heat-related labor impacts to understand the role of adaptation in response to climate change. This research is partially funded by the California Strategic Growth Council as part of its new Climate Change Research Program.

Heat and Learning (2018 National Bureau of Economic Research working paper)
Authors: Joshua Goodman, Michael Hurwitz, Jisung Park, and Jonathan Smith

LCI Scholar Jisung Park and collaborators provide the first evidence that cumulative heat exposure inhibits cognitive skill development and that school air conditioning can mitigate this effect.

Hot Temperature and High Stakes Cognitive Assessments (2018 working paper)
Author: Jisung Park

LCI Scholar Jisung Park provides the first estimates of the impact of hot temperatures on high-stakes exam performance and subsequent educational attainments. Hot days reduce performance by up to 15 percent and have persistent effects on high school graduate status, despite what appears to be compensatory responses by teachers.

Media coverage: The New York TimesBBC NewsThe 74 Million, Joongang Ilbo (Korean Daily) 

Public Health 

Maybe Next Month? Temperature Shocks and Dynamic Adjustments in Birth Rates (2018 journal article)
Author: Alan Barreca, Olivier Deschenes, and Melanie Guldi

LCI Scholar Alan Barreca and colleagues estimated the effects of temperature shocks on birth rates in the United States between 1931 and 2010. They found that global warming is making it more difficult for couples to conceive. Specifically, days with a mean temperature above 80 °F cause a large decline in birth rates eight to ten months later.

This study was published in the journal Demography as well as widely cited by the media, including CNNReuters, CityLab, and more.

Adapting to Climate Change: The Remarkable Decline in the US Temperature-Mortality Relationship over the Twentieth Century (2016 journal article)
Authors: Alan Barreca, Karen Clay, Olivier Deschenes, Michael Greenstone, and Joseph S. Shapiro

LCI Scholar Alan Barreca and colleagues examined the temperature-mortality relationship over the course of the 20thcentury. They found that the mortality impact of days exceeding 80 °F declined by 75 percent, that almost the entire decline occurred after 1960, and that this is explained by the diffusion of air conditioning.

The study was published in the Journal of Political Economy and also received coverage in popular media including The Washington Post.

Distributional Equity 

Measuring Climate Change Heat Impacts on Vulnerable Communities to Design and Target Protective Policies (current project)
Researchers: J.R. DeShazo, Gregory Pierce, Jisung Park, Alan Barreca, C.J. Gabbe, Lolly Lim, Rachel Connolly, and Colleen Callahan

A nearly $1.5 million grant from the Strategic Growth Council to LCI supports multiple studies of heat-related climate impacts, the factors that make populations and communities vulnerable, and opportunities to build resilience. Climate change could exacerbate inequalities, and this project will result in tools to empower communities and help government agencies target responses.

Equity Impacts of Urban Land Use Planning for Climate Adaptation (2016 journal article)
Authors: Isabelle Anguelovski,Linda Shi, Eric Chu, Daniel Gallagher,Kian Goh, Zachary Lamb, Kara Reeve, and Hannah Teicher

LCI Scholar Kian Goh and colleagues assess how the growing number climate of adaptation plans developed by cities affect the vulnerability of the urban poor. The paper, published by the Journal of Planning Education and Research, explains that land use planning for climate adaptation can exacerbate socio-spatial inequalities across diverse developmental and environmental conditions, and offer recommendations to advance equitable adaptation.

Roadmap towards Justice in Urban Climate Adaptation (2016 paper)
Authors: Linda Shi, Eric Chu, Isabelle Anguelovski, Alexander Aylett, Jessica Debats, Kian Goh, Todd Schenk, Karen C. Seto, David Dodman, Debra Roberts, J. Timmons Roberts, and Stacy D. VanDeveer

In this paper published by Nature Climate Change, LCI Scholar Kian Goh and colleagues present a roadmap to reorient urban climate adaptation around issues of equity and justice. Recommendations include: (1) broadening participation in adaptation planning; (2) expanding adaptation to rapidly growing cities and those with low financial or institutional capacity; (3) adopting a multilevel and multi-scalar approach to adaptation planning; and (4) integrating justice into infrastructure and urban design processes.

Forthcoming publications from Dr. Goh include articles on global-urban networks of climate change adaptation in Urban Studies and the politics of urban flooding in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.

Land Use and Urban Design  

Evaluation of the Transformative Climate Communities Program Investments (current project)
Researchers include: J.R. DeShazo, William Eisenstein, Jason Karpman, Colleen Callahan, Kelly Trumbull, Britta McOmber, and Emma French

The Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) Program may be the most innovative, comprehensive, and equitable experiment in community-scale climate action, ever. State funding via California Climate Investments, along with leveraged funding, supports community-led development and infrastructure projects in clean transportation, affordable housing, renewable energy, energy efficiency, urban greening, and more. TCC is a high profile program dedicated to empowering communities most impacted by poverty and pollution to choose their community vision, strategies, and projects to enact transformational change – all with data-driven milestones and measurable outcomes.

LCI developed the plan to assess the progress and results of investments in communities awarded TCC grants by the Strategic Growth Council. We are now implementing the evaluation plan in three TCC Round I communities — Fresno, Watts, and Ontario that collectively are receiving TCC grants of about $140 million — to assess change over time toward community-defined goals. These goals include reduced pollution, improved local resiliency to climate change, and an array of local public health, economic, and social benefits.

Addressing Climate Change through Design (2017 paper)
Authors: V. Kelly Turner and Christopher S. Galletti

LCI Scholar V. Kelly Turner and colleagues contributed to the research on how various forms of urban development have differing capacities to address climate change and its impacts. Researchers assessed the temperature regulating potential of Civano, a planned development that was designed and marketed as a sustainable community in Tucson, Arizona.

Also see the related article in The Professional Geographer.

Retreat: Moving to Higher Ground in a Climate-Changed City (articles from 2016 and 2017; forthcoming book)
Author: Liz Koslov
LIC scholar Liz Koslov’s book Retreat: Moving to Higher Ground in a Climate-Changed City, under advance contract with the University of Chicago Press, is an ethnographic account of community-organized retreat from the coast in New York City after Hurricane Sandy. Through this research, Dr. Koslov examined the social impacts of buyouts, a form of property acquisition in which houses and lots are purchased from willing sellers with future development prohibited.
See the related article The Case for Retreat in Public Culture, and A Toolbox: Planning Relocations to Protect People from Disasters and Environmental Change Dr. Koslov has spoken about this research in outlets that include The New Yorker, WWNO New Orleans Public Radio, and Scientific American.