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Emergency Managers Confront Climate Change

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Abstract

Emergency managers will have to deal with the impending, uncertain, and possibly extreme effects of climate change. Yet, many emergency managers are not aware of the full range of possible effects, and they are unsure of their place in the effort to plan for, adapt to, and cope with those effects. This may partly reflect emergency mangers’ reluctance to get caught up in the rancorous—and politically-charged—debate about climate change, but it mostly is due to the worldview shared by most emergency managers. We focus on: extreme events; acute vs. chronic hazards (floods vs. droughts); a shorter event horizon (5 years vs. 75–100 years); and a shorter planning and operational cycle. This paper explores the important intersection of emergency management, environmental management, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. It examines the different definitions of terms common to all three fields, the overlapping strategies used in all three fields, and the best means of collaboration and mutual re-enforcement among the three to confront and solve the many possible futures that we may face in the climate change world.

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