When Discussing extreme flooding or other impacts of climate change, headlines seem to be shifting from talking about ‘one in- a-hundred year events’ to ‘one-in-1,000-year events’.
Even those people who don’t have to deal with the consequences of these crises on a regular basis could be forgiven for wondering how these one-in-100 or 1,000-year events appear to be occurring with increasing frequency.
CRJ readers know that the effects of climate change – storms, landslides, mudslides, flooding, wildfires, heat waves and drought – are linked to every aspect of our lives: National and economic security; health; food; critical infrastructure; water; and ecosystems. As Mostafa Mohaghegh says on p31, climate change has an asymmetric impact on disaster risk, magnifying its already disproportionate effect on rural and urban poor.
And now we are entering a new era: adaptation is taking its place alongside mitigation. But both must go hand-in-hand with disaster planning, because it is emergency responders and humanitarian agencies that are on the front line in dealing with the effects of climate change.
Certain elements of adaptation appear more financially palatable – crop diversification, early warning systems, public education. Others less so. Who wants to tell a community that economic analysis shows its protection is no longer financially sustainable, that relocation is the only option? Who wants to inform a nation that breathtaking amounts must be spent on improving urban infrastructure, drainage and critical infrastructure protection?
As numerous respected studies and experts have indicated, the benefits of strong and early action far outweigh the economic and societal costs of inaction. It is time that every decision – personal or institutional, local or national – is made with this premise in mind.