Living in a warmer world - why we'll all have to adapt

ITV News Correspondent Robert Moore reports on the devastating impact of climate change and extreme weather events on communities across the US and what locals are doing to withstand it.

Words by ITV News US Editor Alex Chandler

As the Glasgow climate conference, COP26, enters its second week with little sign yet that leaders will be able to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, Monday's focus on adaptation and resilience is especially timely.

If we are to live in a warmer world, we will have to mitigate some of climate change's most destructive effects.

In the United States where some of the clearest impacts of increased temperatures are already being felt, people have realised that adaptation is a priority.

Three years ago today, the northern Californian town of Paradise was razed by a wildfire - the deadliest in American history - at least 85 people were killed.

For the survivors, there was a stark choice: leave and find a place to live less vulnerable to the increasingly intense and destructive fires that climate change is fuelling, or build back while trying to reduce the risk to homes and lives.

Doug Teeter had a near escape on the day of the fire, his house, his mother's house and several others in the family were all burned to the ground.

Now he's building a new home and trying to design out the risks by some simple but effective measures - increasing the space between houses, getting rid of gutters so dead leaves don't collect in them and using roof vents that don't allow sparks to get into the house.

Doug Teeter said changing the way homes are built may be one answer to reducing the risk

The town is also using design to reduce the risk of a repeat fire, the Mayor took us to see how the overhead power cables are all disappearing, buried beneath the ground and no longer vulnerable to falling trees or lightning strikes.

Paradise Mayor, Steve Crowder, remained positive, saying rebuilding efforts in his town are going at a "tremendous pace".

"We're doing about 500 homes a year, which prior to the fire we did about 25 new homes a year", he explained.

Mayor Steve Crowder said in just three years his town has made "tremendous progress"

On the other side of the country, it's not fire but water that is forcing people to change.

The waters of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, are both rising and warming, fiercer storms cause damaging flooding.

For those that live and work on the bay the search for solutions to hold back the waters is a priority.

One solution could be oyster reefs which can dissipate wave action, decreasing erosion of the shoreline, and grow upwards with the rising sea.

Oyster farmer Jason Wilford said oysters are "one of the biggest benefactors to the bay, to providing habitat for other oysters, for cleaning the water, (and) structurally with the reefs - that's something I learned today".

Jason Wilford said oyster reefs can help adapt to changing water levels

In the end the scientists who are studying the Chesapeake bay and developing coastal defences say adaptation is not a solution to climate change in itself.

Rather, adaptation allows a little breathing space for meaningful cuts in carbon emissions to take effect.

Without emissions falling our attempts to mitigate the reality of rising temperatures won't be a long term answer.

Marine Biologist Lexy McCarty explains how oysters can be an adaptive solution