The occurrence of a heat wave during the pandemic may be the clearest example of an overlapping disaster in the near term, but we'll likely see more and more overlapping disasters brought about by a changing climate.
The Hampton Roads area in Virginia is home to more than 1.7 million people, a major port, and more military installations than anywhere else in the United States. Its rising sea levels and floods brought together civilian and military officials on a project to mitigate damage and foster resiliency.
Few people foresaw how quickly fentanyl would displace heroin, doubling or tripling opioid overdose deaths in some pockets of the United States from 2013 to 2017. But we could have been warned—if only we'd checked our wastewater.
When a hurricane comes ashore or a wildfire ignites, most of a community's vulnerability to disaster is already set. Emergency managers including FEMA, states, and localities could do much more to identify statewide risks and build community resilience before an event makes headlines.
RAND researcher Robert Lempert was evacuated from the path of a wildfire. This experience emphasized for him the challenges of adapting to climate change, not merely because it is hard, but because it makes the familiar become unfamiliar in unexpected ways.
While the U.S. government has announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, most presidential candidates and many states have proposed climate plans of their own. How might voters determine if any of these plans can seriously address climate change?
Intentionally shutting off power may be a practical way to prevent power lines from sparking wildfires. But is it worth the risks? Until more thoughtful and comprehensive decisions are made, planned power outages need to be planned better.
Fires in Indonesia, if left unchecked, could cause an average of 36,000 premature deaths annually across Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Researchers built a tool that models the effect of the fires on public health.
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.
How can science help cities respond to the challenges of climate change? Jordan Fischbach, co-director of the RAND Climate Resilience Center, spoke to Public Source for this article on how Pittsburgh researchers are addressing critical questions about our uncertain climate future.
Forest and land-use fires are ravaging Indonesia's Sumatra and Kalimantan islands. Haze from these fires is life-threatening; inhaling smoke can cause heart and respiratory diseases, leading to premature deaths. We developed a new tool to provide decisionmakers with information to protect people who live downwind.
Imagine a scene from the near-future: You get dropped off downtown by a driverless car. You slam the door and head into your office or appointment. But then where does the autonomous vehicle go? It's a question that cities would be wise to consider now. Self-driving cars may be on the roads within the next decade or two.
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.
Wildfires in California have caused and will likely continue to cause substantial losses for residents, businesses, and government agencies. It is important to distribute these losses in a manner that provides incentives to reduce their magnitude over time.
California's Human Right to Water Bill declares that “every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water.” One clear barrier to reaching this target is the sheer number of small water utilities that pose service sustainability and public health risks to their customers.
As drought and population growth place increasing pressure on water supply, the need to save and efficiently manage Southern California's water resources becomes increasingly critical. A single information and communication technology platform could go a long way toward moving water utilities from reactive to proactive maintenance practices.
With climate change already generating storms, heat waves, and droughts beyond historical norms, local governments need to do more to prepare. A decisionmaking framework developed by RAND allows communities to stress-test ideas, weigh the trade-offs, and plan for a range of possible futures.
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.
Nearly one in three American households in 2015 reported difficulty paying their energy bills or sustaining adequate home heating and cooling. Emerging models of energy services and financing show promise, and could identify creative ways to increase access to funding that could preserve and improve home affordability for millions of Americans.
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.
Despite years of dire forecasts, the international community has been unable to halt the steady climb in global temperatures, and it is the world's poorest who are paying the heaviest toll. As heat-related risks intensify, those living on the margins—in India and elsewhere—will need help to cope effectively.
The EPA's interest in including a systematic retrospective review element in new regulation has the potential to provide a transparent and well-structured method for assessing which decisions worked well and which didn't. If successful, it could serve as a role model for other regulatory agencies.
Studies suggest that the heat of the future will exceed humans' capacity to cope. But taking advantage of smart technology, inexpensive traditional methods of cooling that require little energy use, and innovative energy-efficient technologies could provide a sustainable path forward in heat-challenged regions.