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Programme for Disaster Interventions and Humanitarian Aid
Yesterday I was deeply honoured to present the AQA Annual Lecture at the Geographical Association annual conference in Derby. I talked on the topic of Future Trends in Natural Hazard Losses - essentially a review of what we expect to see in the next few decades on a global basis. I started the talk by looking at recent trends, and then looked forward to what we might expect. I finished with an example of one of the mega-quakes that we fear – in this case a large earthquake in Western Nepal.
The slides are on Authorstream – you can download the Powerpoint file there – and should also appear below:
The UK’s chief government scientist Sir John Beddington announced that world leaders need to urgently tackle climate change, especially because of increasing trends towards more extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and storms over the next 25 years. The more extreme and erratic forms of weather that the UK has experienced in recent years may become more common due to a changing climate.
Prof Sarah Curtis who is the Executive Director of the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience was interviewed by both television and radio media recently about what can be expected for the future. Prof Curtis mentioned the importance of planning with local authorities and national planning being taken by government to adapt to a changing climate, and that focused preparation and planning are needed to cope with variable climate and extreme weather events. Read more
While climate takes place over much longer periods of time than weather people can still perceive it with some level of accuracy. A range of recent studies have shown that climate knowledge can spread through communities within a number of different settings. Indigenous communities for example, many of whom live most of their lives outdoors, likely experience changes in climate much differently from people who spend most of their time indoors within more controlled settings (see Making indigenous voices on climate change heard).
The context of climate change is important for communicating its impacts on the planet and society. If climate change science can’t relate to people’s everyday lives it makes it seem less important, even though we may have only a small glimpse of what climate change actually means for the planet as a whole and the flora and fauna that inhabit it.
In many cases people’s ideas about climate change may come primarily from the mass media, but to see this problem of climate communication as the responsibility of the media alone seems rather unrealistic. The fact remains that most media organisations have their own values embedded within their respective institutions and they normally succumb to market demands, rather than social or cultural values that are much wider ranging and long-term including those of science. Reportage of climate change is often influenced by political orientation especially for publications that give ‘climate scepticism’ equal footing with scientific consensus on climate change. Read more
Air pollution is a problem in many parts of the world, but especially India, China, Bangladesh and a number of other countries in Asia. During the World Economic Forum it was announced that India has the world’s worst air quality. Is the air pollution experienced in these countries primarily due to human activities such as heavy industry? Likely. A combination of emissions from vehicles, coal power plants and other sources is enough to make populations vulnerable to diseases caused by breathing in polluted air. But it’s not like this is a new problem, many of the more developed countries have had similar if not the same problems with poor air quality and in many cases still do. For example, London’s air decreases the life expectancy of its residents. Read more