Building resillience to extreme weather
Between 1980 and 2004, extreme weather cost the world an estimated US$1.4 trillion and much loss of life. Climate change is expected to exacerbate flooding, drought, and other weather hazards. Population growth in regions expected to be hard hit by extreme weather will expose more people to risk.
Communities can take steps to build resiliency, say scientists in a Royal Society report released Thursday, November 26, 2014. Mitigating future weather events can be achieved through cooperation at local, state, and international scales. Resiliency means preparing for the unexpected as well as specific disasters, focusing on reducing consequences of infrastructure failure rather than attempting to achieve and rely on perfect protection. The report recommends that planners address systems comprehensively, looking all hazards together.
Recommendations include financial system changes and ecological, ‘ecosystem-based adaptations as well as large infrastructure projects.
“We need to make sure that large-scale engineering isn’t making us too complacent,” said former ESA President Nancy Grimm, a member of the report’s working group and a professor at Arizona State University.
“In the developed world we have been heavily reliant on some key large scale pieces of engineering, which have been pushed to their limits during recent events. By using a combination of engineering and more natural approaches we can make sure that we accept occasional small ‘failures’ while limiting the detrimental impact of a large, catastrophic event. We call this a safe-to-fail approach.”