Climate Change Challenge: Planning and Policies

I read a blog post last week declaring “climate change is finally here” because 2012 was the warmest year on record for the U.S. News flash: Climate change has always been here.

That’s an important fact to know when formulating plans and policies regarding climate change, which every business, government agency and charitable organization out to have in place.

Weather is extremely fickle but, when taken over a period of years, it establishes a pattern we call “climate”. Climate can change for a variety of reasons ranging from natural change to human influences such as farming, forestry, construction – the causes are seemingly endless. Some are major contributors to climate change (such as the plowing of the Great Plains grasslands in the 1800s) while others are more subtle, such as large expanses of concrete – parking lots and highways.

Pollution is also a contributor to the changing climate and one on which most people want to take action – with the notable exception of the third world countries that still have horrible smog and water pollution problems. Of course, you have to be at least 45 years old to have any memory of oil slicks on vast stretches of our nation’s waterways, thick smog, PCB and phosphate pollution.

But I digress. The real point of this post is the formulation of climate change planning and policy.

My assumption was that hurricane Katrina, like the tornado outbreak of April 1973 and hurricane hurricane Andrew before it, was a turning point in disaster planning. Unfortunately, Katrina and the relief failures were still major talking points during the 2008 presidential election. Some of the relief money is still unaccounted for.

And then superstorm Sandy came along to show how poorly we are preparing for major storms. There’s not much we can do to prepare for a drought except to make sure we have enough water and food in storage, and enough savings in the bank to get through it. But there is plenty we can do to prepare for hurricanes, tornadoes, cold waves, heat waves, blizzards and floods.

Preparing and formulating policies and procedures is not difficult. The cost of not preparing is very expensive – both in actual monetary loss and loss of reputation. Face it, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, along with the power companies in the New York City area have a huge credibility problem in the wake of Sandy. The main reason for that credibility crisis is because nothing was done implement plans and policy after hurricane Katrina.

Climate change is real and has been going on for thousands of years.

Not planning ahead – believing extreme weather will not happen – is utter foolishness.

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