Spring 2018: Introduction to Mitigation and Adaptation Studies

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Class 14 (02/26/2018): Vulnerabilities of natural and human built environment; Economy, Inequality and Injustice

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Summary

Risk, Vulnerability, Thresholds, Resilience, Panarchy are terms that are used in the discussion of adaptation challenges. These terms are introduced. The anthropogenic changes in the environment are slowly pushing the planetary life-support system to a state shift with potentially severe consequences for both human and non-human mammals and the rest of the biosphere. Understanding thresholds and detecting them prior to crossing them is of paramount importance. The built environment and public services such as power, water, food, health, transportation, communication, sewage systems are based on a design basis in terms of environmental conditions (particularly the weather extremes in terms of heat and cold extremes, flood levels, humidity, wind including hurricanes and tornadoes, snow loads) that have been experienced in the past. Increasingly, extremes are shifting, exposing built environment and the public services to conditions exceeding the design basis.

The changes in the natural environment caused by direct and indirect human activities, including extinction, global warming, and increased hazards lead to severe impacts on economy, increased inequality, and injustice due to impacts on populations that contributed least to the causes for the changes.

Reading List

Committee on Climate Change, 2016. In particular, read the Technical Chapters on Infrastructure and the Built Environment.

Hallegatte et al., 2013.

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