Learning from Chicken Little

View of the eyewall of Hurricane Katrina taken...

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From the Christian Science Monitor:

From Katrina to snowmageddon: lessons government should learn

From Katrina to the Christmas blizzard to river floods, the government has botched natural disaster relief management. Here’s how to do it right.

As Mike Bloomberg just learned in the Great Snow Mess of December 2010, people want a lot of services from government when a weather shock takes place. People want the wise government to anticipate how nasty the snow storm will be, to correctly warn the people, and to have the resources to have an ample fast clean up crew ready once the weather event has played out and dumped a lot of snow.

In the real world, this hasn’t been how things have worked….

Updating statistical models to reflect changing realities is more than a nerdy game. If climate change is taking place, then such forecasters should build in some uncertainty into their models and plan for worst case scenarios. They face a tough challenge. They don’t want to be labeled as a “Chicken Little” yelling out a worst case scenario every time the rains starts but at the same time they don’t want to have any regrets about under-estimating “the big one”….

…I expect much more investments and specific climate change adaptation research based on such “pinpoint” technology. The net effect of such efforts is that richer cities who have the capability of investing in such pro-active strategies will have an easier time adapting to climate change.

I’m skeptical on “climate change”, but whole-heartedly agree we would all benefit with investment in better predictive technology.  The rest of the post by Matthew Kahn, economics professor at UCLA, is here.


(Cross-posted from All-Hazards Mitigation blog.)


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