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Posts tagged "risk"

Leadership fail.

Leaders failed (and continue to fail) to address well known and documented hurricane and flood risks to New Orleans.

Now reading: "Risk Savvy: How to make good decisions." It’s about how we frequently we make terrible choices based on misinterpreted information. 

I’m starting to develop an interest in behavior economics as it relates to risk in government decision making, but I’m still very very skeptical. I’m certainly not known for hopping on the bandwagon of fashionable trends. And it’s well known that the increasing public interest in learning more about “behavior economics” is likely a result of exploitative media hype. Still, I’m giving this book a shot. Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out how to change some of the projects I manage for USAID from top-down approach, to something more like user driven - which is somewhere in the middle of user driven change behavior and bottom up style advocacy. 

Basically, American businesses are not overly concerned by impacts from climate change. There’s good reason for this: government hand outs. Flood, fire, and natural disaster insurance is subsidized by the US taxpayer. And, whenever there’s a major disaster from, say, a snow storm, hurricane, or tornado, both state and federal governments clean up the mess - often rebuilding in the same exact spots where the damage can occur in perpetuity. Businesses, to say the least, have little incentive to be worried about natural and human-made hazards… 

Good read of the day. Skip to the first four paragraphs though.

Huffington Post (yes, HuffPo) published an excellent article on how U.S. cities are not even closely prepared for hurricanes, sea-level rise, or strong storms.

They point out that these vulnerabilities are our own doing. NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg admits to assisting businesses and people build in harms way.

Bloomberg has in general been skeptical about actually limiting development on the water. “People like to live in low-lying areas, on the beach; it’s attractive,” he told a reporter after Sandy. “People pay more, generally, to be closer to the water, even though you could argue they should pay less because it’s more dangerous. But people are willing to run the risk.”

The city’s progress on adapting to storm surge risk has so far consisted mainly of smaller steps, like working with private and public players to harden the electrical grid and seal off the subway system against the threat of flooding.

In other words, city officials are too scared, too weak, or just too ignorant to warn citizens that their lives, investments, or families are at high risk from obliteration. This is not an exaggeration. Even local officials shrug their shoulders when it comes to developing along risky ocean fronts:

Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, argued that development along the Jersey Shore has been ongoing for decades, even before there was a coastal permitting program. He said it is not the state’s role to dictate how redevelopment should occur.

“People who live along the shore always live with a risk, and they know that. That’s understood,” he said. “We at the state are not going to tell these towns you can or cannot rebuild, but we will work with them to make sure that whatever comes back will be done in as smart or protective a fashion as possible.”


What’s worse is that these cities and towns claim they are “vital” pieces of the U.S. economy. Yet, they’re not willing (or capable) to pay for clean up and rebuilding after a storm hits - that’s forced upon the American tax payer…

A rare, great read at HuffPo: Hurricane Sandy Damage Amplified By Breakneck Development Of Coast


Advanced commentary weaves Aussie politics and climate risk together. And it gets better, via The Conversation

Good read at MoJo.

Insurance industry is leaving home and business owners (and cities) in the dust by pulling out of high-storm areas.


“Our climate is changing, the weather is becoming more intense…It’s going to cost a lot of money and a lot of lives…The big issue (is) how do we adapt…because it doesn’t look like the people who are in charge are going to do what it takes to really slow down this climate change, so we are going to have to adapt. And adapting is going to be very, very expensive.” 

California Governor Jerry Brown

…in an airplane hangar filled with trucks, airplanes and helicopters used by the state to fight fires.

Great built environment news from the Middle East. They’re getting into disaster management (and a bit of climate adaptation). The conference was held last month in Aqaba, Jordan. And you can view and download a boatload of power point presentations by the speakers, here.

Not sure how long the resources will be online, so get them while they last! 

The conference will provide a forum for Arab politicians, policy makers, planners, academia and development experts to discuss issues and challenges facing the region with regard to disaster risk reduction. This session is being co-organized by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and the League of Arab States (LAS).