Climate Scores

Does the stream protect itself and people against flooding, dirty air, and heat?

“We have to address these problems ranging from climate change to building more impermeable surface…It requires a big change in our way of thinking about everything from living in single family houses on quarter acre, or five acre lots for that matter, and driving internal combustion engine vehicles, and heating our houses with natural gas instead of electricity, which can be sometimes generated in a more sustainable way.”

– Sarah L., speaking along the Anacostia River below the Northwest Branch.

Our streams need more trees & wetlands

Each indicator is scored from 0-100, and then an average Climate score is calculated for each stream. Learn more about the scores in the Story Map below and in our methodology document.

Our report found that the Climate scores were the lowest of all four categories, across all three streams. A particular driver of the low scores is that every stream scored a 0.0 for Wetlands – which means they have lost wetland area over the past decades, despite national, state, and regional policy goals to achieve “no net loss” of wetlands. We must urgently protect and restore our wetlands. Scores were also only Fair – Moderately Poor for Tree Canopy, and even worse for Forest Buffer. We must plant more trees and protect and restore existing forest buffers.

More tree canopy cools cities and protects the people who live in them from extreme heat. But trees are especially valuable for streams when they are planted in thickly forested buffers along the edges of rivers and their tributaries. Forested floodplain buffers and wetlands provide critical protection from another impact of climate change: more floods caused by extreme rain events. Wetlands soak up water and help moderate flooding.

Our streams need cleaner air

Air Quality scores were Fair and Poor across all three streams. Most of the bad air quality in our region comes from burning fossil fuels for transportation. We must change our land use and driving patterns to get people out of cars and into public transit, walking, and biking both to clean up the air we breathe and to fight climate change.

View Larger Climate Scores Story Map