2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)
Paper No. 253-3
Presentation Time: 2:05 PM
THE INTERSECTION OF CLIMATE CHANGE, GEOSCIENCE, AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
RUBIN, Jeffrey, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, 11945 SW 70th Ave, Tigard, OR 97223, email@example.com
The myriad impacts of climate change span geographic, jurisdictional, and disciplinary boundaries. The political and social controversy surrounding climate change does not have to be a barrier to planning for its effects; the priorities and strategies issued by the US Department of Defense and related advisory groups serve as prime examples. In July 2015, the USA Council of the International Association of Emergency Managers issued a position statement encapsulating the relevant issues, integrating “comprehensive mitigation and adaptation strategies” with ongoing hazard and land-use planning processes, and emphasizing the role of emergency management in implementation. The statement specifically avoids the political controversy surrounding the topic, focusing on “the potential effects and the need to address them now, using objective assessment, strategic planning, and policy development,” and emphasizes that climate change “drives a range of effects, from discrete events like extreme weather to longer-term impacts that vary by location, such as drought, sea-level rise, regional energy vulnerabilities, increased wildfires, habitat modification, and emerging diseases.” Recent US federal policy requiring consideration of climate change in state mitigation plans may mandate attention at that level of government, but the issue is relevant for emergency managers at all levels and in the public and private sectors.
Preparing for the effects of climate change largely come down to three constraints (other than politics): knowledge, capacity, and capability. Knowledge refers to transmission and uptake of information, as well as analysis, e.g., recognizing that climate change is more than hazardous weather, which emergency managers already deal with. Capacity is driven by volume: with finite resources, not all needs can be addressed; the most immediate needs tend to receive the most attention, typically deferring longer-term concerns like climate change. Capability relates to specific skills and/or other attributes: even with knowledge and capacity, the ability to apply them may be the defining limitation. Geoscience can meaningfully contribute to knowledge and capability; ideally this should be the basis of gainful collaboration among geoscientists, emergency managers, and other practitioners.