Workshop: Billion Dollar Disasters & Climate Change

Dec 14, 2020

Increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather events are setting new records when it comes to disasters that cause at least $1 billion in damage. We gathered a panel of experts to discuss 2020's disasters and their impacts on vulnerable communities.

VIEW WORKSHOP RECORDING

Climate Central and the International Association of Emergency Managers held an online workshop on December 10, 2020 to discuss weather-related disasters that continue to intensify and devastate many of our communities. We also discussed reporting and focusing attention on long-term recovery efforts. Main points covered include:

  • 2020 is the sixth year in a row in which the United States has been impacted by 10 or more billion-dollar disaster events. Climate change is amplifying extreme weather events, while urban growth in dangerous areas and other factors are exacerbating their impacts. 
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed systemic vulnerabilities in American disaster response and health systems.
  • Physical and mental health, economic and housing stability, and social role adaptation are important factors to look at when measuring recovery in a community after a disaster. 
  • The worst mental health impacts from a disaster can occur three years after an event, long after federal support for recoveries has dried up.
  • Federal disaster recovery efforts are centered around homeownership, property and political capital, often leaving behind marginalized and lower income communities.
  • Acknowledging that systemic and historical structural racism plays a role in our current emergency management disaster response was suggested as a first step in moving equitably toward climate adaptation.
  • Advice for reporters included centering their reporting in a community, humanizing disaster events, paying for interpreters and continuing to report on the after-effects of a disaster long after the national news outlets have forgotten about it.

VIEW WORKSHOP RECORDING

Panelists 

  • Adam Smith, Applied Climatologist, Center for Weather and Climate, National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) 
  • Jessica Whitehead, Ph.D., Chief Resilience Officer, North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency 
  • Monica Sanders, J.D., LL.M, Associate Professor, Univ. Delaware, Faculty Georgetown Emergency Management Program Twitter: @Monica_DRRProf 
  • David Abramson, Ph.D., Clinical Associate Professor at NYU’s School of Global Public Health and the director of the research program on Population Impact, Recovery and Resilience (PiR2). david.abramson@nyu.edu 
  • A.R. Siders, JD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Disaster Research Center, Biden School of Public Policy, University of Delaware Twitter: @sidersadapts 
  • Victoria Bouloubasis, Journalist and filmmaker, North Carolina at Enlace Latino NC  Twitter: @thisfeedsme
  • Andrew Revkin, Director, Initiative on Communication and Sustainability, The Earth Institute, Columbia University. ar667@columbia.edu Twitter: @revkin

Climate Central Resources

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