SDG 13: Climate Action Spotlight

The resilience imperative is here

Extreme weather can hit anyone, anytime, anywhere, as revealed in this brief rundown of climate stories from around the world.

The Entry

As my friend Javier De Jesús told the story, his eyes at times rolled, at times gazed, until they fixed straight ahead, the message now coming into view, as when the rain eases just enough to finally reveal the road outside the windshield.

“We have to realize as a society that this is now the way it is. This kind of disruptive weather can hit us, really, at any time. We’re there already.”

There, meaning, that time in the future-turned-present when families, companies and infrastructure are hit regularly and unpredictably by serious or extreme weather events.

“We simply have to adapt. We have to get to the day when resilience becomes second nature, ingrained in our day-to-day, so we’re ready for whatever comes, whenever it happens.”

Javier was recalling the conversation/realization he had with his wife Tamara as they braved the rains and traffic jams of Tropical Wave Beryl Monday, July 9, in central Puerto Rico.

The exchange hit me like a bright ray of light, a sudden shock of hope, for this is precisely the epiphany every person and leader on the planet must be having right about now.

We are, indeed, there already, as a quick review of the latest news attests. It has been quite a summer season, and we’re still in mid-July. So I thought of doing a quick exercise that might help you in your own Javier-and-Tamara-like dawning, or perhaps more so, in helping a friend or relative see the light.

Again, the point is that these weather events have become so varied in their type, intensity, frequency and location as to hit anywhere, anytime, and so turn resilience into the new default approach adopted by everyone, everywhere.

No place or person is exempt, as demonstrated by this rundown of stories published just in the last few days and weeks.

The Stories

The Atlantic storm season begins June 1st every year, but to already be up to the letter C in named hurricanes is crazy, including Beryl, which began as a hurricane before weakening, and Chris, which skirted North Carolina on its way to Great Britain.

Not to take anything from the Atlantic, but it has paled so far compared to the Pacific, which has seen no fewer than TEN storms and typhoons and where meteorologists expect one typhoon per week through the end of the season.

Prapiroon has been the most damaging thus far, causing more than 220 fatalities in epic floods across southern Japan.

typhoonmariaMaria could have been even worse. (Yes, can you believe it? An Asian Maria?) It began as a 155 mph monster typhoon before weakening to 93 mph as it sailed north of Taiwan and hit China last week.

No country on Earth is hit harder by flooding than India, home to an astonishing 20% of all global deaths from rain events, as we learn here and here. This year, once again, is no exception.

In the U.S., this fantastic story documents the historic disruption from rain and flood events straight across the country so far in 2018, and how it will only worsen from here. One lady is quoted as saying: “The storms are worse. The rains are worse. The heat is worse. Everything is worse.”

Speaking of heat being worse, unusually long and intense heat waves are forcing people to adapt in multiple countries and regions.

There’s Phoenix, the United KingdomScandinavia and Japan here as well. As this story shows, scary high temperatures are being recorded nearly everywhere.

In the U.S. alone, a staggering 80 million people, a quarter of the population, have faced heat warnings just in the last several weeks. This podcast from yesterday, July 16, sheds further light.

Also in the U.S., extended heat and drought are making 2018 just as bad as 2017 for western wildfires, with Colorado suffering the biggest year-over-year spike of any state.

One chilling consequence of heat is happening out at sea, the Arabian Sea, to be exact. arabianseaThis jaw-dropping story tells of the rapid expansion so far this year of a massive dead zone now stretching from western India across to Oman and the Arabian Peninsula. Dead zones, or low-oxygen areas that dramatically reduce fish life, have taken off around the world in recent decades.

There’s more, so much more going on, but I’ll stop there. You can Google the rest.

And then share the story among your friends and fam. The time to spread the hope of resilience has arrived. We’re there already.

EDITING NOTE. Then came this story, published by Washington Post, 26 July, with much additional detail and perspective. A must read.

Long-time green-economy and business journalist, sustainability analyst and communications executive, including 14 years as reporter and editor of Caribbean Business in Puerto Rico, five years as Sustainability Director at two banks on the island, general manager of a green marketing agency, and since 2014 independent strategist, blogger, consultant, freelance writer, and now Editor-Publisher of The Resilience Journal and Founder-President of COMMON Future, a climate-adaptation studio scaling game-changing Next Resilience with communications, construction and culture. Alex is also communications adviser to the American Society of Adaptation Professionals and resilience lead at the Puerto Rico chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

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