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Stephen Flynn, founding director of the Global Resilience Institute at Northeastern, is hopeful that the current crisis will inspire new technologies and techniques that can mitigate the changes already felt around the world from climate change.

“This is clearly an opportunity for innovation in dealing with this risk, and an opportunity for us to rethink our relationship between the built and natural environment in ways that could spawn better quality of life or better outcomes,” he says.

For example, better urban planning and development can help cool down cities and protect against floods or wildfires. And humans are ingenious at adapting to changes in their environments, Flynn says.

Even calling it a “climate crisis” reveals an opportunity, Flynn says. The word is borrowed from a Greek word meaning “turning point.”

“This could be a turning point for the better or for the worse, and frankly neither one feels comfortable,” he says. “Human nature is such that we crave predictability, but the reality is that what inspires innovation and a willingness to take on challenges is a sense of crisis or a sense of need.”