facebook twitter rss feeds

Town Hall Meeting: Risk Mitigation for Climate Adaptation & Natural Hazards

Conference Program
View by day or program, includes author index and personal scheduler

Wednesday, 26 January 2012, 12:15–1:15 p.m.; Room 238

For years, communities around the U.S. have been actively undertaking planning efforts and implementing actions that would be classified as hazard mitigation. At its core, hazard mitigation is about taking efforts to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters on built, social, and natural systems. Traditionally based on historic information, hazard mitigation allows communities to look at historic issues (i.e. flooding, tornadoes, earthquakes), analyze the impacts associated with those historic events, and devise strategies to reduce the likely impacts that would occur should that event repeat itself. Fundamentally, hazard mitigation is about using the past to prepare for the future. Greatly enhanced by support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), hazard mitigation planning has become mainstream for the vast majority of local communities.

Another important area of local community action is around climate adaptation planning and implementation. Climate adaptation centers on looking at how future changes in climate and weather could impact built, natural, and social systems within communities and devising strategies to lessen those impacts. While still nascent, climate adaptation is becoming more of a mainstream concern for local communities – especially in light of the record economic damage associated with the various 2011 weather events.

Contrasting hazard mitigation and climate adaptation, one can quickly deduce that the primary difference between these two concepts is the timescale of information used for planning. Hazard mitigation looks at historic hazards as the foundation for future hazards. Climate adaptation looks at likely future hazards as the foundation for future planning. While seemingly in conflict, hazard mitigation and climate adaptation are fundamentally similar concepts. In fact, to be successful, climate adaptation must draw upon the successes learned in the hazard mitigation field. Additionally, the traditional hazard mitigation field will create a false sense of security for local communities and citizens if it does not take into consideration how potential changes in weather and climate could impact disasters.

Given the urgent need for stakeholders of all sizes to reduce their vulnerability to changes in weather and climate, it is critical that climate adaptation become a core component of local, state, regional, and national-level decision-making. Given the existing interest in hazard mitigation, one logical way to rapidly scale-up climate adaptation is by integrating future climate considerations into the hazard mitigation planning process. By doing so, existing hazard mitigation planning processes will be enhanced by ensuring that communities are prepared for historic as well as future threats. The end result will be communities that are more economically, socially, and environmentally robust and vibrant.

Please note that the first 75 attendees to be seated will enjoy a lunch courtesy of CSC.

For additional information, please contact Tom Fahy (e-mail: tfahy@capitolgr.com).