America Resilient

April 23, 2014

This year for Earth Day, Eric Sanderson, WCS Senior Conservation Ecologist, and Carter Ingram, WCS lead for ecosystem services, ask: "How can we make America more resilient to future natural hazards that may increase in intensity and frequency in the future?"

Since we last celebrated Earth Day a year ago, 29 states have experienced 99 Federal disaster declarations. Fires, floods, mudslides, hurricanes, and tornadoes have devastated the United States, causing billions of dollars of damage, destroying thousands of homes, and up-ending people’s lives.

Thus this Earth Day it seems fitting to ask: How can we make America more resilient to future natural hazards that may increase in intensity and frequency in the future?

First, we need to remember that disasters aren’t just bad luck, but the result of bad planning. Not only has climate change made us more vulnerable to nature’s vagaries, but outdated plans and short-minded development patterns have put people and infrastructure in harm’s way and undermined the ability of natural ecosystems to help protect us.

The destruction of salt marshes, a century of misconceived fire suppression, and housing developments built athwart floodplains, have all exacerbated the damage caused by recent disasters.

Read the full article on NatGeo NewsWatch >>
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