4 regions around the world where you can see climate adaptation in real time

What are countries doing to handle the consequences of climate change?

Flooded cemetery in Jakarta
(Image credit: Afriadi Hikmal / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The consequences of climate change are rapidly becoming more prevalent worldwide, impacting millions of people. While the world is attempting to mitigate and curb further climate destruction, some regions are already experiencing the repercussions and adapting to a new normal.


Indonesia is one of the first countries to consider drastic measures to combat impending climate change. The country's capital, Jakarta, has been sinking with 40% of the capital lying below sea level, per The New York Times. Because of this, the city has faced severe flooding, especially as climate change is causing higher sea levels. "Over the years, Jakarta has grown uncontrollably into a megacity with no environmental support system," Hendricus Andy Simarmata, a lecturer at the University of Indonesia, told National Geographic.

So what does the government have planned? Moving and rebuilding the capital in its entirety. Indonesia wants to establish a new capital city on the island of Borneo called Nusantara. Jakarta Gov. Joko Widodo asserted the new city would be a "green metropolis run on renewable energy," according to the Times. "We want to build a new Indonesia," he said. "This is not physically moving the buildings. We want a new work ethic, new mindset, new green economy."

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While ambitious, there are numerous concerns, namely coming from current residents and environmental groups. Millions of people will still be left in the sinking Jakarta, especially those not wealthy enough to relocate. Environmental advocates are also concerned because the proposed location of the new capital is home to lots of wildlife, and new construction would require large-scale deforestation, according to The Associated Press.


Thousands of buildings across San Francisco are at a high earthquake risk, including several historic buildings and low-income housing, according to NBC News. Specifically, buildings made out of concrete are most susceptible to damage and collapse from earthquakes. "When they get damaged, they can get damaged to such a degree that they lose their vertical load-bearing capacity and they collapse," explained David Friedman, a retired structural engineer to NBC News. While there isn't a direct link between climate change and earthquakes, factors like drought and oil drilling may increase the likelihood of earthquakes.

In turn, the city has created a list of at-risk buildings and is deliberating the best process for rebuilding and fixing the buildings. "I think there's an overall acknowledgment that we need to do it," said Janan New, the executive director of the San Francisco Apartment Association. She added, however, that San Francisco is "in a very serious economic climate right now where there is not a lot of funding available for this work."

In some cases, fully knocking down the building and starting from scratch is a better option because of how costly it is to renovate buildings. "It's invasive and it's expensive, so you can imagine it would be a sensitive topic for building owners and occupants of the buildings," remarked Megan Stringer, the president of the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California, to NBC News. "You're talking about people potentially needing to be displaced while the retrofits are happening, and that's not something people want to hear."

The Bahamas

In the wake of climate change, the Bahamas have seen disproportionately severe impacts. As an island nation, the country is more susceptible to rising sea levels. "If we don't keep temperatures under 1.5 degrees, islands like the Bahamas might not exist," said Erecia Hepburn, the president of the Bahamas Agriculture & Marine Science Institute. "We will soon have to become climate refugees."

The Bahama Islands are one of the lowest-polluting countries on the planet yet bear the brunt of climate damage. The country has worked actively to decarbonize its energy system, as well as build storm-resistant infrastructure, according to The New York Times. "The Bahamas have made it a national priority that all of its citizens, regardless of what island they're on, regardless of their income, have access to power," Chris Burgess at the Rocky Mountain Institute told the Times. "They've been absolutely fantastic renewable energy and adaptation champions."

In addition, rising sea temperatures are wreaking havoc on coral reefs, prompting Coral Vita, a company dedicated to reef restoration, to set up there. "The Bahamas are a living climate laboratory where we can test these solutions that can benefit nature and can benefit people, too," said Sam Teicher, the company's co-founder. "We're on the front lines of the climate crisis."


Certain industries are also being impacted by climate change. For example, Australia's wine industry is being strained as the country's climate becomes drier with more drought and less rainfall. Australia is currently the fifth-largest wine exporter in the world, and its "industry is on the front line," according to the BBC. In addition, this year is expected to bring El Niño, which is likely to cause even warmer, drier weather.

"Climate change is already messing with flavor and quality" of wine, stated the BBC. "All of this means growing certain types of wine grapes in Australia — those suited to cooler climates like sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and pinot noir — will only get harder." In turn, many have opted to plant different grape varieties more suited to the changing climate. Others have opted to add cooling systems to make the climate suit the plants. "I think there is an opportunity to rebrand and make the industry really exciting — to use climate change as a positive rather than a negative," remarked Ashley Ratcliff, an Australian vineyard owner.

However, growing wine will likely not be the largest worry in a rapidly changing climate. "A three-degree shift of the average increases the frequency of extremely hot days by about tenfold, if not more," said researcher Tom Remenyi to the BBC. "If the whole globe warms more than three degrees, it's highly likely that we will not be worried about growing wine."

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Devika Rao

Devika Rao is a staff writer for The Week. She graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Environment and Sustainability and a minor in Climate Change. Previously, she worked as a Policy and Advocacy associate in the nonprofit space advocating for environmental action from the business perspective. She is passionate about the environment, books, and music.