Benjamin Preston, a senior policy researcher and director of RAND's Community Health and Environmental Policy Program, specializes in climate risk and adaptation, disaster recovery, and resilience. In this Q&A, he discusses common misperceptions about climate change and how to decarbonize the U.S. economy.
After Superstorm Sandy, residents of Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood cleaned up debris, pumped out basements, and teamed up with researchers to find out what was in the floodwater. They established safety protocols to help local businesses prevent their chemicals from escaping and wrote a guide to help other communities.
The government shutdown highlighted the lack of resilience many suffer from when they encounter unexpected economic events. The median American family has been losing ground for decades. Policy responses to address this situation will be complex and difficult, but are much needed.
There are many opportunities to manage climate risk around the world, but not everything can be saved. Delaying triage of climate damages could leave societies making ad hoc decisions instead of focusing on protecting the things they value most.
For Gulf Coast residents, dealing with the impact of the Deepwater Horizon disaster is challenging enough. With the Taylor Energy spill, they may face an even more daunting recovery, one that could take decades. Acknowledging the extent and complexity of recovery is the first step toward supporting coastal communities to build their resilience in the face of overlapping disasters.
Responding after a nuclear attack will require having planned and prepared for problems that are very different than those encountered after hurricanes and earthquakes. U.S. cities are inadequately prepared to handle a disaster of this magnitude.
For Flint to recover from this latest disaster, it will be critical for the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to invest in and implement strategies to build on existing community resilience and strengthen Flint's ability to bounce back.
Because climate change is largely irreversible, mitigation alone won't solve the problem. While mitigation will prevent even greater, future climatic changes, adaptation — efforts to adjust to climate change's effects — will prepare the world for a new set of living conditions, whatever they may be.
This weekend marks 10 years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. As the region struggled to cope and rebuild after the storm, RAND experts worked on solutions to the region's long-term challenges.
Wellbeing is about individuals having the skills and opportunity to live a meaningful life. There are countless things that cities do that either contribute or detract from that sense of meaning. Santa Monica's Wellbeing Project is working to fundamentally change how the government thinks about its citizens.
President Obama's executive order that directs federal agencies to plan and build for higher flood levels as they construct new projects in flood-prone regions will affect hundreds of billions of dollars of future public works projects. In an ideal world, planners would estimate the benefits and costs for each project, taking into account everything from the details of the local landscape to the potential for adaptive responses over time.
A new research group, the Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities, will assess and address the public health, social, and economic impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico region.
RAND has established a new Water and Climate Resilience Center to address one of the most significant policy challenges of our time: How do we plan, build, and organize our societal systems to become more resilient to the unavoidable impacts of climate change?
Crafting an effective, whole-community strategy to respond to Ebola could stop the spread of the disease now and lay groundwork for responses to future outbreaks and other emergencies. In the long run, this could make public preparedness and resilience valuable assets for the U.S.
To inform the debate on whether the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) should be continued or allowed to expire, RAND prepared policy briefs on three topics of central concern to policymakers: national security perspectives, the impact on federal spending, and the impact on workers' compensation markets.
With the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act set to expire this year, Congress is currently revisiting a crucial question: What is the appropriate government role in terrorism insurance markets? As the debate unfolds on Capitol Hill, policymakers should consider three key research findings.
The recovery from Sandy shows once again that how well communities bounce back from disasters depends not just on how they react after a crisis, but on how resilient they have made themselves beforehand. Building community resilience should be part and parcel of disaster preparedness.
As residents continue to recover from Superstorm Sandy, they are about to confront dramatic changes in the flood insurance landscape. Changes to federal floodplain maps will mean thousands of New Yorkers will suddenly be living in areas designated as high-risk flood, which will send their insurance rates soaring.
The philosophy and motivation surrounding community resilience has strongly resonated with community leaders but there remains a divide between how experts articulate resilience policy and how that policy translates to on-the-ground implementation. Building Community Resilience: An Online Training addresses that tension.
Ensuring the availability of needed mental health resources was critical in the immediate aftermath and recovery phase of the 2011 Joplin, Missouri tornado. Authorities in Oklahoma must ensure that such services are in place early so that Moore's residents can begin the long journey to recovery.
The toll of the tornado on school students in Moore, Oklahoma, cannot be overstated. To assist with recovery, RAND's CBITS program offers resources on psychological first aid for schools, as well as additional materials for educators and parents.
To celebrate our first 60 years, we created '60 Ways RAND Has Made a Difference,' an online book to illustrate our most notable contributions. On our 65th birthday, we provide five of the most recent ways in which we at RAND are proud to have made a difference.
The path to climate change preparedness should start at the intersection of resilience and robustness — that is, building resilient communities with the individuals and organizations within those communities making robust decisions, ones designed to work well over a wide range of ever-changing conditions.
With an event like this, With an event like this, 'recovery' doesn't mean a return to normal, because lives have been permanently altered. Recovery can only mean finding a new normal, a new path forward. And schools, those places of safety and healthy development, can help with that process, by providing a structure and community to support healing, writes Lisa Jaycox.
Recent global disasters vividly illustrate that recovery entails more than simply restoring physical infrastructure such as roads and buildings; it is also a long process of restoring the social infrastructure—the daily routines and networks that support the physical and mental health and well-being of the population, write Anita Chandra and Joie Acosta.
The massive damage and disruption caused by “Super Storm” Sandy has created a rare moment when New York City, New Jersey and surrounding areas are singularly focused on the infrastructure they need in a changing environment – not just the infrastructure they already have thanks to the vision and investments of past generations.
Just as public agencies across the country conducted terrorism risk assessments in the wake of 9/11, a comprehensive infrastructure assessment may be in order to understand natural hazard risks and the potential exacerbating effects of climate change, write Gary Cecchine, David Groves, and Jordan Fischbach.
If Hurricane Sandy causes extensive disruptions in public schools—particularly in hard-hit New York City—our research shows that choices made by parents and policymakers could significantly limit the negative short-term effects of changing schools under such difficult circumstances, writes John Pane.
Seven years after Hurricane Katrina, it's clear that New Orleans and other cities along the Gulf Coast are applying what they learned then in preparation for Hurricane Isaac, write Gary Cecchine and Jordan R. Fischbach.
Given the recent spate of highly publicized disasters, why don't more Americans pay attention to the advice of public health officials? The messages they are getting are largely based on unverified assumptions, not hard evidence. Equally concerning, these assumptions may inadvertently hinder preparedness.
Across the country, electronic medical records, designed first and foremost to make health care delivery safer and more efficient, are proving valuable when disaster strikes, write Mahshid Abir and Art Kellermann.
If the U.S. does not improve its ability to track federal spending and develop reliable measures of effectiveness, precious federal disaster aid will continue to be at risk of being squandered, writes Agnes Gereben Schaefer.
Previous efforts by the international community to stabilize Haiti have met with little or only short-term success. This time, following the earthquake, the U.S. response could actually leverage the response and recovery opportunities into a broader international plan, write Agnes Gereben Schaefer and Anita Chandra.
The federal government has spent about $140 billion responding to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the Gulf Coast now needs more money for hurricane and flood protection and for coastal restoration. But we still haven't properly evaluated whether our money was spent wisely.