The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

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In the past few years the world has experienced notable climate changes along with increasingly frequent natural disasters. The Earth’s climate system is creating what many people including Professor Burrell Montz call a “New Normal”. The New Normal is defined by the increasingly extreme weather events such as storms and droughts, as well as accelerating sea level rise all around the world. Patterns of change have become abundantly clear. For example the earth getting warmer, change in annual precipitation over land, and increase in sea level. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) project for more abnormally hot days and warm nights as well as heat waves, more heavy precipitation events, the proportion of total precipitation from heavy precipitation events to start to lean toward heavy precipitation events, and impacts from coastal erosion due to sea level rise. The higher the change the more people will be exposed. Exposure, risk, and vulnerability are the key factors that lead to loss.
The large populations living in the urban areas of the East Coast already face the new challenges presented from this loss due to the rising sea levels, change in climate, and increasingly severe storms. The east coast has long been seen positively for its great location, low/no income tax, low property tax, rapid job growth, tax deductions, and subsidized rates. The ridiculously inaccurate low estimates of risk made by insurance companies people underestimated the potential for injury or death when moving here. Along with the insurance companies the developers also did not care about making communities in risky locations because of the high margin business and comfort of knowing after sale they had nothing to lose. Finally, all government levels often overlook and never interfere with where a development is made, because high rewards are gained from new towns such as job creation and increased political influence.
It seems now however, the devastation and hardships caused by storms such has Hurricane Sandy and Irene, which also lead to a drought, are starting to wake people up. The populations that are most vulnerable usually lack knowledge prior to experience, are illiterate or lack language proficiency, are culturally different, or lack social integration. Thus why senior living developments, mobile homes, and snowbirds were hardest hit after hurricane Charley.
In order to aid the population in the effort of loss reduction and facing the challenges caused by disaster there are many viable options. In order to reduce vulnerability we can increase access to decision making, increase community/neighborhood security, and have plans set for people who themselves along with their home’s are in the most danger.

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To reduce our exposure we could incorporate current and future risk into planning, develop building codes for future conditions, balance engineering and environmental defenses, and provide incentives both individually and community wide. In favor of distributing the risk more evenly instead of having it all weigh on the population we could include future conditions in insurance premiums and foster development of social networks and social capital. To better prepare we should implement early warning and communication systems, develop local and regional evacuation plans, and progress response, support, and recovery mechanisms. The bottom line is we need to establish flexibility in decision making for those who might be affected, instill an adaptive approach and realize one size does not fit all. Everyone from the government all the way down to the citizen are all important in the production of this foundation in a new way of thinking.

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