Subscribe
The Monitor's View

Obama's plan for climate-change 'resilience'

At the UN climate summit, President Obama announced US plans to help other countries prepare for climate change. The US effort on global resilience may help fight the fatalism on efforts to curb carbon emissions.

  • close
    IMB has opened a Cloud Resiliency Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Mark Dean (left) project manager, reviews with cloud specialist Michael Flaig the plan to protect financial institutions from losing data in the event of a natural disaster.
    Jared Lazarus/Feature Photo Service for IBM
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

One enduring consensus in the climate-change debate has been the need for endurance, or the ability of people to absorb the impact of erratic storms, severe droughts, or rising seas. On Tuesday, President Obama made that point strongly, not only for the United States but for the world.

At the United Nations climate summit in New York, he announced a US plan to strengthen “global resilience” to climate change. Other countries will soon receive US help in forecasting weather risk, anticipating floods, and developing techniques to adapt to global warming. All US foreign-aid projects will now be screened for how well they help poor countries in weather adaptation.

The plan is just as ambitious as the effort to head off a rise in atmospheric temperatures. But it may be that building up resilience is much more doable and agreeable. And perhaps if global unity can be achieved in protecting individual countries from global warming, then it might be easier to achieve unity in cutting carbon emissions.

Many places have recently experienced “weird weather,” such as superstorm Sandy, which struck the Eastern seaboard  in 2012. Such experiences have persuaded more leaders to jump on the resilience bandwagon. On Monday, for example, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York signed the Community Risk and Resiliency Act to assist local communities in preparing for severe weather or sea level rise.

Two years ago, Obama kicked off a climate-resilience campaign for the US. His latest effort, announced in July, is a $1 billion competition for states and localities to come up with innovative ways to prepare for natural disasters – and to recover from them.

Yet as many disaster-hit communities have discovered, material preparations are not enough. Dikes can be built, dams reinforced, electric grids made solid, and storm shelters put on every block. Yet, according to a recent report called “Toolkit for Resilient Cities,” “Changing social, political and economic conventions is as fundamental to the success of city resilience initiatives as is upgrading physical assets.”

The best preparation is strong community ties, the kind that compel people to respond to others during a weather crisis and to restore a city or town after a storm – often making it better than it was.

Resiliency campaigns may be the best way to fight the popular fatalism toward climate change. Knowing that a community can bounce back from erratic weather could provide people with  the confidence needed to join others in a global push against greenhouse gases. Endurance in one effort is often transferable to another.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK