More Resources on Climate Adaptation

Climate adaptation plans are getting mixed results across the U.S.

Ever wonder how state adaptation plans adopted across the country are actually being implemented on the ground? There’s now a website that tells you, and the results are mixed.
The Georgetown Climate Center is launching an expansive online database analyzing progress on the plans, which provide guidance on adapting to floods, fires and other climate-related problems. The tool reveals whether a state has an adaptation plan at all, and if so, which programs, laws or regulations may have resulted from goals or guidelines within it.

The center found that 14 states have finalized plans, meaning they have gone through an official state process with a task force or subset of officials and have sent the plans back to the governor or legislature. Additionally, eight more states and Washington, D.C., are moving toward a finalized climate plan via their internal planning process. However, less than half of the states have completed plans, even if their localities sometimes are taking action.
In total, the 14 states that have finished plans are mainly coastal: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington. In those states, the rate of completion of the adaptation plans — meaning goals outlined in them have resulted in some sort of tangible outcome, like a regulation or program — ranges from a single digit to about 14 percent. When “progress” on the goals is included, the percentage rises to as high as 86 percent, said Aaron Ray, institute associate at the center.

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Ebola – some legal and ethics aspects

From the CRS, The Ebola Outbreak: Select Legal Issues; 2 page brief.

From SARS to Ebola: Legal and Ethical Considerations for Modern Quarantine, by Mark A. Rothstein. University of Louisville – Institute for Bioethics, Health Policy, and Law; University of Louisville – Louis D. Brandeis School of Law. Indiana Health Law Review, vol.12, no.1, 2015 Forthcoming. Full paper, which is available for download, is 44 pp. Abstract follows:

Quarantine remains an important part of the strategy for containing infectious diseases, especially when there is no vaccine or effective treatment. Recent experiences with SARS and Ebola indicate that large-scale quarantine is fraught with ethical challenges. In the United States, legislation authorizing quarantine has been enacted in every state, and these laws have been upheld by the Supreme Court. The following ethical principles should guide public health officials in deciding whether and how to impose a quarantine: (1) necessity, effectiveness, and scientific rationale; (2) proportionality and least infringement; (3) humane supportive services; and (4) public justification.

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Why Don’t We Have a National Health Response Plan?

My former colleague Bill Cumming reminded me of this time line chart we completed in 2002. At that time there was no national health response plan, and from all indications there still is not one today. But for those people who are thinking about creating one, here is some of the history of Federal Civil Response Planning in the U.S.

The chart is a bit dated. But anyone interested in having us update it, and providing the modest financial support to do so, please contact the Diva.

Update: In the Washington Post, on Oct. 21, I found this article on the need for a national plan - mainly dealing with hospitals and public health matters.

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Two Years After Hurricane Sandy – 5 views

From National Geographic, see: Two Years After Hurricane Sandy Hit the U.S., What Lessons Can We Learn From the Deadly Storm? In an era of extreme weather, we have to keep the risk of weather disasters in the front of our minds, author says. An excerpt from the author of the book:

I think Sandy’s message to us is that we cannot know how big the risk is. We just have to assume it’s huge—and that when a storm is coming and people are telling us to evacuate, we have to listen.

From the New Yorker, see: Retreat from the Water’s Edge

Nearly two years after Hurricane Sandy, New York has begun a “managed retreat” from some low-lying areas that are vulnerable to flooding and storm surges. Many residents of the Oakwood Beach section of Staten Island have opted into a program that allows them to sell their homes at pre-Sandy value, to the State of New York, which intends to return hundreds of parcels of land to nature. The cleared neighborhood will then serve as a buffer zone to protect other parts of the island. The program has been extended to other areas of Staten Island and Long Island that are at continued risk of flooding in the face of climate-change-related events. In this video, residents describe their experiences with the buyout program, and urban planners explain why communities along the East Coast need to consider moving away from the water’s edge.

From the Washington Post, two book reviews: “Storm Surge” and “Superstorm.”

Report of a recent meeting of  experts on Sandy and resilience.

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A bit of humor re Washington, DC

This graphic was a segment of a Drawing Board cartoon published in the Washington Post over the weekend in connection with the Ebola threat.

The three branches of the federal government:

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New MOOC Coming: Disaster and Ecosystems: Resilience in a Changing Climate

Announcing “Disasters and Ecosystems: Resilience in a Changing Climate”, a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to be launched in January, 2015

This exciting new online training course is being launched in January, 2015.  It was developed jointly by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Center for Natural Resources and Development and the Cologne University of Applied Sciences, Germany.  This is UNEP’s first MOOC, developed in the context of its engagement with universities worldwide, or the Global Universities Partnership on Environment for Sustainability (GUPES).

The course covers a broad range of topics from disaster management, climate change, ecosystem management and community resilience. How these issues are linked and how well-managed ecosystems could be a bulwark against natural disasters and climate change impacts is the core theme of the course. The course is designed at two levels: the leadership track, with the first 6 units providing general introduction to the fundamental concepts, which is suitable for people from all backgrounds who wish to have a basic undertaking of the topic.  The second level, or expert track comprises 15 units with more in depth learning on the various tools of ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

The course is delivered by a global array of scientists and practitioners. In addition there are guest lectures from universities and international organizations.

The course is invaluable for universities around the world, where faculty members can use it to update their curriculum and use the lectures and teaching materials for blended learning for their own courses. Those who successfully complete the course will be provided with a certificate of completion, free of charge.

For pre-enrollment, course schedule and for FAQs, visit:      

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New Report on Adaptation to Climate Change

The full report, which is 342 page, is titled Water/Wastewater Utilities and  Extreme Climate and Weather Events: Case Studies on Community Response, Lessons Learned,  Adaptation, and Planning Needs for the Future.

Also on the same website are six fact sheets and full case studies and syntheses.

This is the first posting on the topic of adaptation to climate change. If you are working on something related, please let the Diva know.

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