Requirement for State Hazard Mitigation Plans to Include Consideration of Climate Change

FEMA has finalized this new requirement.

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2 Responses to Requirement for State Hazard Mitigation Plans to Include Consideration of Climate Change

  1. In principle, I have no problem with this requirement; in fact I welcome it, in principle. Unfortunately, we live in an unprincipled world. The problem is that there aren’t any really good options for going from the principle to practice. For example, the models that are being used to predict climate change are not intended to be used to predict local or even regional changes (and they aren’t doing so well on global tends, either!). Even a cursory reading of the IPCC’s documentation shows that, almost everywhere, model uncertainties at the local level are greater than the trends that they would be asked to project. Not a good basis for public policy, and a recipe for wasteful spending of dollars we don’t have.

    In most cases, I would say “Go look at the data.” Here, that doesn’t work very well, not least because there is no guarantee – and little likelihood – that future trends can be projected from past data. As we are slowly learning, the natural component to climate variability is determined by cycles that appear to be decades in length. Because these cycles are not synchronized, it may take as long as a century before we’ve seen all of the possible superpositions of the cycles we know about. Certainly the limited length of our weather records can’t make one comfortable that we can reliably predict our future from our known past.

    In effect, FEMA has punted the difficult part of this – how do you predict the future – to the states. For once, that’s a good thing – we’re likely to see several approaches taken and over time will find out which ones were most effective.

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