environment | July 08, 2013

Be Proactive, Not Reactive: Lavin Speakers Discuss Extreme Weather

Last week, The Adaptation to Climate Change Action Team at Simon Fraser University released a sobering message about extreme weather. Think adaptively, not reactively, their report suggested. That, or expect your local economy to take a massive hit. Going Solo author Eric Klinenberg agrees. He and Erwann Michel-Kerjan, a catastrophic risk management speaker, have both argued in favor of increasing preliminary planning to better deal with severe storms. The extreme weather patterns experienced across North America as of late are increasing both in severity and frequency. That's why it's critical we re-evaluate our disaster management strategies—starting with strengthening our prevention plan.

"There's a big difference between adaptation and reaction," the lead author of the SFU study tells The Vancouver Sun. "Adaptation requires sober planning, purposeful management and creating tools to try to mitigate the impact of these events in advance rather than waiting for something to happen and then mopping up afterward." Planetary futurist Alex Steffen uses Hurricane Katrina as an example of poor-preventative measures. Had levees in the city been built up to the standards suggested by scientists before the storm hit, the loss of life and cost of repair would have been exponentially decreased, argues the Carbon Neutral author. The problem is that governments are often reluctant to invest money into preparing for an event that has yet to happen.

The budget for disaster clean-up at least doubles the money invested in disaster prevention, Klinenberg adds. While it's good news that nations are pouring funds into disaster relief measures, it is often less expensive to be pragmatic than reactive. "If the U.S. continues simply to rebuild, rather than building in anticipation of the punishing weather that’s coming," Klinenberg warns, "communities everywhere will remain vulnerable, and the government will keep spending billions more than it has to." Mitchell Joachim, the Co-President of Terreform ONE, has been busy developing sustainable solutions that can make our infrastructure more resistant to weather. He says we know the implications of climate change and have the technology to employ better solutions—we just need to act on it. These four speakers are leading voices on the rapid changes taking place in our world. On stage, they shed light on how weather patterns are affecting our way of life, and, how to prepare for them and ensure our cities remain sustainable and prosperous.

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environment | July 07, 2013