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“Building A Resilient Tomorrow” Authors On Climate Change And Resilience

You may hear the word “sustainability” used a lot when talking about climate change, but what about “resilience?” KVCR’s Benjamin Purper spoke with the authors of the new book “Building a Resilient Tomorrow: How to Prepare for the Coming Climate Disruption” about what it means to be resilient in the face of climate change.

Authors Alice Hill and Leonardo Martinez-Diaz both served as senior officials in the Obama Administration working on climate change issues. Their new book discusses climate resilience.

Hill: “Resilience has many definitions and lots in the federal government, but for myself it's the ability to withstand the impacts of climate change, respond to those, and really bounce back better, be stronger as a result, or at least not worse off. Sustainability goes to cutting emissions - that's very important, but resilience is about adapting to climate change and then also being resilient to other threats that might come your way.”

That’s Alice Hill. Here’s Leonardo Martinez-Diaz.

Martinez-Diaz: “I think what's going to be really crucial is to empower communities to understand and manage the risks that are going to emerge because of climate change. So resilience is a lot about things that people can picture in their minds, like sea walls, early warning systems, and that type of infrastructure. But ultimately it's about having businesses, households, and governments understand the risk and figure out how best to manage it. And that's ultimately what we're trying to do here.”

According to Hill, climate change isn’t just an environmental issue – it also affects national security.

Hill: “Climate change will obviously affect our military installations - sea level rise, wildfire, we've already seen the result at various bases as a result of hurricane damage, where some of our most valued jets were left out on the runway, exposed because we didn't have the proper facilities. We also know that extreme events make it difficult for the military to carry out its missions, as well as to train its personnel. And then in the context of security risk throughout the world, as those areas and regions experience climate extremes, that could cause mass migrations, could cause destabilization of governments, endanger food security, water security, create a lot of instability across the globe.”

Martinez-Diaz: “Just to follow up on that, what we are looking for is to help empower the federal government and all of the national security community to think more broadly about threats. It's not just traditional threats that we have been concerned about over many years, it's now a new dimension of risks and climate change, as you know, has been called a threat multiplier. It exacerbates existing threats and existing risks, and the question is how do we get, how do we forecast some of these risks so that we can plan ahead and try to mitigate them before they become real.”

Hill and Martinez-Diaz say they hope people start understanding the risk that climate change poses.

Hill: “Our hope is that everyone will begin to understand climate puts all of risk and each of has decisions to make, our communities have decisions to make, they can leave it safer, healthier, and more prosperous, but by ignoring the risks from climate change as we all are in a great number of communities across the United States, either because we don't have the tools that show us what to do or we simply are not well-versed in the risk, we are setting ourselves in a direction that has an unhappy future. And our hope with this book is that we find the path that would allow us to be resilient and continue to grow and prosper and to have hope for all of ourselves and our children.”

The book is called “Building a Resilient Tomorrow: How to Prepare for the Coming Climate Disruption.”

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