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Climate Change

Published on August 26th, 2019 | by Jennifer Sensiba

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Climate Change Is Teaching Us How To Cope With Climate Change

August 26th, 2019 by  


In most respects, climate change is a horror show. As the temperature rises, the conditions in which most of human civilization grew in fade away. The shorelines humans have almost always known are changing. Places we prefer to be wet are drying out, and some places we know to be dry are greening up a bit. Storms are getting more severe in some places, and they’re going away in others.

There is a silver lining, though. Because the effects aren’t all hitting us at once in full force, we have a chance to do some learning along the way. The small lessons climate change is teaching us along the way might be what saves our species. As important as clean technology is, how we use that technology — what tactics we employ — can make all the difference.

Housing For The Displaced

Lightning destroys an electrical transformer. Photo by Jennifer Sensiba

In Ohio, we are getting a small dose of dealing with displaced people. Emergency Management reported last week that the record-breaking rash of Memorial Day tornadoes left 1,100 households displaced, and hundreds are still struggling to find a place to live again.

“We know that Dayton lost a lot of rental property during this tornado. I’m astonished by how many hundreds of units are now offline,” said Susan Jensen, a senior emergency management specialist with FEMA. “There are hundreds and hundreds of families … who have maybe moved on and are living with family and friends who don’t have a current long-term permanent housing solution,” she said.

Not only are people struggling to find any available housing, but applying to rent anything costs $30 or more. People who just lost everything, in a country where many people can’t come up with $400 for an emergency, leaves people struggling to even apply for an apartment or trailer, let alone come up with money for deposits and required rent. On top of that, the lack of available rental units has driven up prices to more than people were paying before the storms.

There are programs that can assist people in these situations, but they are often inadequate. Additionally, getting people to go through the application processes for these programs while they’re struggling to find a place to sleep that night can be difficult, leaving people unable to get the applications in before the deadlines.

As we learn how to deal with these sorts of situations, we learn the small lessons we need to learn to deal with the much larger coming displacements that climate change threatens to bring in the future.

How Do People Decide On Evacuation?

Last month, the Corpus Christi Caller Times reported that Texas A&M researchers sent out 6,000 surveys to gulf coast residents to learn more about how people decide on evacuation. During every hurricane, some people leave while others stay and ride out the storm. Knowing what factors into these decisions can help emergency personnel and disaster planners in a variety of ways.

One of the obvious ways this helps is with evacuation plans. If more people evacuate than expected, evacuation routes can become logjammed with traffic, leaving people stranded on roadways while storms roll in. Knowing more about how this works can help prevent the horror stories we hear about past hurricanes, such as people going only a couple miles in a day, and running out of gas on the sides or roads or overheating engines during a botched evacuation.

As electric vehicle adoption increases, the automotive industry and disaster planners are going to need to come together to ensure that people can evacuate successfully with electric vehicles, or have other evacuation resources as needed.

Another problem the author discussed was unrealistic expectations that could result from past storms. Corpus Christi wasn’t hit as hard by Hurricane Harvey as other areas were, with much of the evacuation of low-lying areas being optional. Had the worst of the storm hit that area, though, the evacuation would have been much more difficult for all involved. With these types of studies, we can get an idea of what people’s expectations are, and how realistic they are.

If people think they survived a past hurricane without evacuation, but really only got the edges of that storm, future evacuations can be much more difficult.

Lessons To Keep Learning

As these smaller-scale disasters continue to mount, we need to keep an eye out for what they can teach us. By knowing how people decide to stay or leave, or how to deal with displaced people, we can get ideas on how to better prepare our whole civilization for the bigger things coming.

For example, having a society where too many people are on the edge of survival under normal circumstances leaves us far more vulnerable to disaster than we otherwise would be. Another problem we need to think about is unrealistic expectations. If the smaller disasters leave people believing they’re invulnerable to the bigger ones, we might find ourselves woefully unprepared for climate change’s whoppers (and not the candy or the hamburger).

We need to learn as much as we can now, while the challenges are smaller, so we will be prepared later on. 
 
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About the Author

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to explore the Southwest US with her partner, kids, and animals.



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