Understanding our responses to environmental change

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How can we build resilience to extreme weather?

resilience-report-coverThe Royal Society Report ‘Resilience to Extreme Weather’ was launched today – you can access the report and summaries and some interactive maps from the Royal Society website  here

I’ve been working on the report for past year alongside distinguished international scientists chaired by the highly esteemed Professor Georgina Mace FRS.

Key findings of the report are:

We are not resilient to current extreme events, but the impacts are likely to get more severe over time, due to the synergistic effects of climate change and population changes. This means that more people will be exposed to greater risk s – because of more extreme weather and because more people will live in riskier places across the globe, such as coastal cities. In addition, aging populations tend to be more vulnerable to extremes, such as heat waves.

We evaluated different options for addressing these challenges, and strategies in which governments could work together with communities, civil society groups and the private sector. Although conventional engineering approaches – sea wall and dams, are effective, they are costly and may not be best option to deal with changes in future. We need to develop a portfolio of options to address a range of hazards, and include investment in social resilience, and in ecosystem based approaches.

A more adaptive approach – where effectiveness is monitored and updated as new knowledge becomes available – is vital. We also suggest ways in which the financial system can address possible risks, including companies making these risks much more explicit in their reporting procedures, so that they are accounted for in investments and planning.

Even if emissions of GHGs are reduced, societies will still need to adapt to climate change. The report underscores the urgent need to build resilience through both adaptation and mitigation.

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