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Late summer 2020 is serving as yet another reminder that the 21st century will be profoundly shaped by complex and compounding emergencies. In the United States alone, the confluence of severe natural disasters with the COVID-19 pandemic is jarring even those of us who focus on such threats for a living. Multiple hurricanes and tropical storms are proceeding toward the East and Gulf Coasts. The wildfire season across the Western U.S. is creating apocalyptic conditions. As Robinson Meyer described in The Atlantic, “In 2018…I noted that six of the 10 largest wildfires in state history had happened since 2008. That list has since been completely rewritten. Today, six of California’s 10 largest wildfires have happened since 2018—and five of them have happened this year.” At the same time, as of mid-September the nation is still seeing around 39,000 new COVID-19 cases being reported each day as we near a staggering 200,000 deaths from this pandemic. These events are overlaid on the profound shifts resulting from decades of injustice and systemic racism in our society.(more…)
In case you missed it: On July 24, the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing on “FEMA’s Natural Preparedness and Response Efforts During the Coronavirus Pandemic.” The sole witness was Mr. Peter Gaynor, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security. The following is a citation to the witness’s written statement, and a verbatim transcript of an exchange between a Member and the witness. (more…)
Sherri Goodman, Senior Strategist with the Center for Climate and Security, recently spoke to TRT World about the effect of climate change on devastating storms such as Hurricane Dorian. She spoke about the the need to both prevent a future of more frequent and intense storms by reducing the scale and scope of climate change, and preparing for these changes through investments in climate resilience. Prevention and preparation will be key to saving more lives in the future, building resilient communities, and bolstering security. Watch the full interview here:
By Marc Kodack
As we begin to assess the full extent of the damage and lives lost caused by Hurricane Dorian, it is worth looking at recent assessments of community resilience commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security to help shape how we better prepare in the future. This includes making sure that the military communities that keep our bases operating are resilient to climate and non-climate related disasters. Military installations located across the U.S. have recently been affected by significant climate-influenced disaster events (and non-climate disasters) that presented serious risks to military communities, and have cost billions of dollars in facility and infrastructure repairs, and. These events include earthquakes in July 2019 at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California, that resulted in the installation being in a “mission unsustainable” state for multiple days sustaining an estimated $2.5 to $5 billion in damages; severe flooding on the Missouri River resulting from record melting snow upriver exacerbated by a bomb cyclone in March 2019 which effected a third of Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, with an estimated $650 million for “operations, maintenance, construction, and simulator costs;” and Hurricane Michael in October 2018 which struck Florida and Tyndall Air Force Base damaging every building on the installation resulting in $4.7 billion in damages (see also John Conger’s article on his eye-opening visit to Tyndall about 6 months after the hurricane hit). (more…)