Changing Climates: Equity and Adaptation in a Warming World
Virtual Meeting—July 10 to July 13, 2022
The 47th Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop will be organized around the theme of Changing Climates: Equity and Adaptation in a Warming World.
As the planet warms, the Earth’s complex ecosystems are threatened by everything from rising sea levels to persistent drought. Weather-related disasters that shatter previous annual records are now common in every region across the globe.
Of course, the physical climate is not the only thing changing. So, too, is public recognition of the risk of climate change and the staggering toll of environmental extremes. Scientists estimate that 85 percent of people worldwide have experienced disasters generated by vulnerability and intensified by human-caused climate change, and nearly one in three Americans live in a place recently hit by a wildfire, flood, severe storm, or another environmental disaster.
The consequences of climate-fueled disasters are mounting, but these burdens are not shared equally. Economically and socially marginalized groups—who are a majority of the world’s population—have already found their lives severely altered by climate change and rising inequality. When disaster strikes, they suffer disproportionate impacts and experience recoveries with no clear end.
The conversations at the 2022 Natural Hazards Workshop will focus on how the hazards and disaster field is grappling with and responding to the realities of a warming world. Members of this community have long recognized that climate change is not only an environmental problem, but also a social problem that emerges from and exacerbates vulnerability in all its forms. Even still, the enormity of the challenges posed by a rapidly changing climate are stretching the bounds of our scholarship, emergency management practice, and policy frameworks. For example, many of our traditional models continue to assume that disasters are concentrated in time and space, with clear beginnings and ends, and with quantifiable impacts. But as the world heats up, we are witnessing more compound and cascading extremes that defy these traditional understandings and call, perhaps, for a fundamental re-envisioning of our approach to hazards and disasters.
With these pressing concerns in mind, we will work together at this year’s meeting to examine topics such as:
- Who has the power and authority to drive climate mitigation and adaptation?
- What new data, metrics, and frameworks are necessary to better explain the cumulative toll of climate change?
- Are funds meant to diminish the impacts of disasters reaching those who need them?
- What coalitions and workforce development programs are advancing environmental and climate justice while reducing the harm from disasters?
- How can we keep our focus on other hazards, such as earthquakes and tsunamis, when addressing climate- and weather-related disasters demands ever more resources and attention?
Adapting to the changing climate calls for us to imagine and plan for a future that does not look like our past. Although more death, displacement, and environmental degradation is projected in coming years, we are at a pivotal moment where we could still prevent more human suffering.
The scope of the many interlocking crises that the hazards and disaster community now confronts requires our focus. On behalf of the entire Natural Hazards Center team, I hope you will join us in July and lend your voice to this conversation.
Please take care of yourself and others.
Lori Peek, Director
Natural Hazards Center
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