"Climate change will increase risks significantly in many areas of society, and also will render far less measurable many risks that were previously calculable. If our society is to survive climate change without significant human costs, we must develop robust institutions and practices to manage these risks. The insurance industry is our society's primary financial risk manager, and needs to play a leading role in developing these institutions and practices. But climate change poses an unprecedented challenge to the insurance industry, because factors such as increasing uncertainty and the potential for highly correlated losses will make it difficult to insure against climate change-related risks and will strain capital markets' ability to compensate those who are affected. If the industry rises to the challenge, it stands to profit while facilitating our most successful responses to climate change-related threats around the world. If not, insurers will suffer along with everyone else. A report issued recently by a major financial firm identified climate change as the number one 'strategic threat' facing the insurance industry, noting that it is a 'long-term issue with broad-reaching implications that will significantly affect the industry.' To date, however, there has been relatively little effort to examine what supply- and demand-side barriers may be impeding development of insurance products that address climate change risk effectively. In this context, this Article examines the incentives that insurance products provide to influence the climate change-mitigating and adaptive capacity-building behavior of policyholders and other actors. It also looks at the reasons that insurers might or might not choose to provide those products and the reasons individuals and businesses may or may not choose to purchase those products. Finally, it examines the extent to which the insurance industry's products are likely to play a significant and effective role in affecting private actors' responses to climate change. The Article concludes that although it is not yet clear whether and how the insurance industry will be able to address climate change in a way that systematically creates solutions, the industry's future - and perhaps the rest of ours as well - may rest on the success or failure of its adaptation to a world with a changing climate." —Abstract.
"The argument against crafting federal regulations for problems stemming from development in disaster-prone areas (nation-on-edge problems) assumes that these types of problems are essentially local problems requiring unique local solutions. In this Article, Jeffrey G. Miller challenges this assumption, reasoning that a flexible framework of federal regulations would indeed be effective at remedying these problems. He suggests that such a framework could be modeled after the Clean Water Act's (CWA's) point source pollution control regime. A permitting system similar to that set out in the CWA would promote best management practices while still allowing local entities
the freedom to determine which particular practices are most effective for them. He recommends that we reexamine our conception of federalism before abandoning hope of federal solutions to nation-on-edge problems." —Executive Summary.
"Historically, regulatory approaches to natural disaster mitigation have been created in the aftermath of specific disasters. For instance, the world's first city building code was created in the wake of the Great Fire of
London, and the U.S. Congress enacted flood control rules for the Lower Mississippi after the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927. In this Article, Rutherford H. Platt discusses how natural disasters have informed society's
understanding of natural resource management and land use planning over the last several centuries. He examines the evolution of single use policies into multiple use management, deconstructs federal disaster policies, and advocates for ecological cities. He concludes with a reminder to address natural disaster
mitigation—indeed, all of modern urban planning—with comprehensive policies addressing the full range of urban needs."—Editors' Summary.
"The traditional link between disaster mitigation and local land use planning was highlighted by the Disaster Mitigation Act (DMA) of 2000, which emphasizes the need for mitigation coordination among state and local entities. In this Article, Patricia E. Salkin looks at the role of local governments in natural disaster mitigation, specifically, how local governments may use traditional land use powers, such as the police power, to protect against disasters. She cites DMA provisions that offer financial incentives to states that
work with local governments to plan for growth and disasters; she also sets forth case studies to illustrate how states can create vertical links among federal, state, and local entities to coordinate disaster mitigation strategies."—Editors' Summary.
This report "analyzes how Gulf Coast roads and highways, transit services, oil and gas pipelines, freight handling ports, transcontinental railroad networks, waterway systems, and airports are likely to be harmed by heat waves, extreme precipitation events, sea level rise, increased hurricane intensity, and storm surge damage associated with climate change. The report outlines why changes must be incorporated in transportation planning now in order to avoid serious future problems."—Docuticker Summary
"The term natural disaster is a misnomer. As Anna K. Schwab and David J. Brower note in this Article, disasters do not occur naturally,
they occur only where humans have placed themselves in the way of natural hazard events. Therefore, decisions about the way human environments are initially constructed can mitigate the effects of natural hazard events. They distinguish between resistance and resilience, explaining that attempts to resist forces of nature by trying to contain or control nature itself have largely been
unsuccessful. By contrast, resilience efforts, such as hazard avoidance, environmental
preservation, and education and outreach, reduce vulnerability to natural hazard events. The authors explain a range of resilience techniques and discuss hazard mitigation planning under the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000."—Executive Summary.
"The International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) welcomes this report as a concrete response to its call for work to promote understanding that: protection of vital ecosystem services is fundamental to reducing vulnerability to disasters and strengthening community resilience.
"Although there is a growing recognition that natural habitats can help to mitigate disasters caused by vulnerability to hazards, we still have a great deal to learn about how to maximise the potential benefits and about what this means in terms of landscape-scale management approaches. Clear evidence linking habitat degradation to a series of so-called 'natural' disasters have added urgency to the need for further research and monitoring efforts. These problems are likely to increase as a result of the disturbance caused by climate change. Research shows that the poorest members of society consistently fare worst when disaster
"At the same time, natural ecosystems continue to be degraded at an alarming rate, so that in many countries we can no longer assume they exist in good enough condition to provide the environmental services upon which many people depend. In response, governments and local communities are setting aside and where necessary restoring natural habitats
deliberately for their protective role. Although protected areas such as national parks and nature reserves are primarily designed to conserve biodiversity, most also supply important environmental services, including disaster mitigation. Whilst this is understood and acted upon by many protected area managers, it has never been systematically assessed and the current report makes a first attempt to provide a global overview.
"By focusing the case studies on major disasters in the new millennium, the authors have deliberately chosen a fairly narrow data set rather than choosing 'best case' examples. They have found cases where protected areas clearly play a major role in disaster mitigation and cases where the links are not so clear cut or where changes in management approaches within protected areas are needed.
One clear result of this study is a need for specialists in disaster risk reduction, environmental management and protected areas to work together far more closely than they have in the past. There is already much that could be done through better collaboration to increase the role of natural habitats in disaster mitigation and these opportunities will continue to increase as we learn more. We call on both communities to develop talks and to take the necessary steps to ensure that natural safety measures are maintained and enhanced."—Foreword.
"This national scientific assessment integrates, evaluates, and interprets the findings of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) and draws from and synthesizes findings from previous assessments of the science, including CCSP Synthesis and Assessment Products and reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It analyzes the effects of global change on natural and human environments, agriculture, water resources, social systems, energy production and use, transportation, and human health. It analyzes current trends in global change, both natural and human-induced, and it projects major trends for the future. It is intended to help inform discussion of the relevant issues by decisionmakers, stakeholders, and the public. As such, this report addresses the requirements for assessment in the Global Change Research Act of 1990." -Website.
"The Office of University Programs, Science and Technology Directorate is sponsoring a summit to showcase key research and education priorities of the Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence, the Science and Technology Directorate and the Department of Homeland Security at large. The Summit highlights the efforts of the Office of University Programs as it continues to rise to the challenges associated with helping to protect the Nation. Subject matter experts from academia, industry, government and the international community will address the latest homeland security research and education issues in the following areas:
Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events; Security of Agriculture and the Food System; Studies of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism; Preparedness and Catastrophic Event Response; Chemical and Biological Threats and Countermeasures; Emerging Threats; University Programs Homeland Security Education Initiatives; International Homeland Security Research Challenges."—Website.
This website includes pdf files of speakers' presentations and facts sheets produced in conjunction with the conference.