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Recovery, Resilience, Readiness: Contending with natural disasters

London 1 July – A prominent US climate researcher has said that planning for natural disasters is being distorted by global warming concerns.

Professor Judith Curry, former head of the climatology department at Georgia Institute of Technology, gives the example of claims linking recent wildfires in the US to climate change. These are counterproductive, she says, because they deflect attention from the real causes of the problem, particularly management policies for state- and federal-owned forests. According to Professor Curry, these have been far more vulnerable to fires than privately-owned lands.

Similarly, hurricane activity is frequently linked to global warming. However, with little evidence of any worsening trend and with large natural variability, Professor Curry says there are no sound climate-change-based arguments for effective policy responses. Since no level of decarbonisation will prevent hurricanes or wildfires from hitting towns and cities, only a pragmatic policy of preparedness and adaptation will make communities saver and more resilient, as Professor Curry explains:

“Many regions of the US are not well adapted to the current weather and climate variability or to the extremes that were seen earlier in the 20th century. We can do much to improve our resilience to extreme weather regardless of climate change”.

Judith Curry: Recovery, Resilience, Readiness: Contending with natural disasters (PDF)

Prof Judith Curry