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Is climate change a disaster?

One big one, or lots of little (big) ones...

Even that statement, as impactful as it is, says that climate change is one thing, and disasters are another. We recognize disaster in the storms, the fires, the earthquakes. The sudden events. We have a harder time seeing disasters in those creeping, chronic problems like climate change or the ED overcrowding discussed in an earlier blog. Back to some basic disaster management principles, a disaster is a collision of a hazard (a severe storm, for example), with vulnerability (an impoverished seaside town, not built to withstand the storm).

“Seen through a disaster medicine lens, we are approaching a “perfect storm”; we have a complex hazard that is affecting a fatigued community with lowered resilience, without agreement on a comprehensive set of measures that can be taken to mitigate the impact” (Braitberg)

Why is so much easier to see the problem during a few days of severe weather, than in years of environmental degradation related to climate change?

The World Economic Forum's annual Global Risks Report summarizes "the most severe perceived risks to economies and societies", the biggest threats to life as we know it. Here are their top four for the upcoming decade, in order:

1. Failure to mitigate climate change