Managed Retreat in the Face of Climate Change, Part 2

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In the second episode of a two-part podcast interview for CleanTech Talk, Michael Barnard, Chief Strategist of TFIE Strategy Inc. and CleanTechnica contributor, and A.R. Siders, core faculty at the University of Delaware’s Disaster Research Center, continue their talk about A.R.’s work as a preeminent U.S. researcher in managing retreat in the face of climate change.

You can listen to the full conversation in the embedded player below. Below that embedded SoundCloud player is a brief summary of the topics covered, but tune into the podcast to follow the full discussion.

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A.R. and Mike launch the second half of this episode by discussing case studies of communities dealing with climate change impacts and managed retreat. Managed retreat has been controversial in the past because news coverage has disproportionately paid attention to those who are starkly opposed and feel forced to move. In Mike’s opinion, however, many people support these efforts, especially those who feel stuck in risky areas.

Mike brings up the ways in which communication can play a factor in whether or not people buy into the plans to retreat. A.R. has been looking into the ways in which cognitive scientists understand this topic and perceive managed retreat to be deeply intertwined with emotion and psychology. She is particularly interested in including people who not only understand the planning and science side of managed retreat, but also the social and behavioral scientists that can help persuade people of the benefit of retreat. 

Both Mike and A.R. then talk about the messaging used surrounding managed retreat and the importance of framing conversations. The two agree that it is important to frame the solutions in a way that people still feel they have some choice in the matter. One of the central questions in communication surrounding managed retreat is how to create the right narratives that resonate with the people living in high-risk areas. This could be related to the experience of homeowners and risk awareness. Ultimately, A.R. and Mike agree that communicating these topics are complex and difficult to do well. 

As they bring the second half of this episode to a close, Mike and A.R. touch briefly on COVID-19 and how it relates to disaster recovery and planning for compounding disasters. A.R. sees the challenges that COVID-19 has brought to be an opportunity to think more about the way communities are designed and the ways in which communities could be designed in the future in more risk-avoidant ways.

To hear more on these topics, as well as more on climate change adaptation and the upcoming election, listen to the show!

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