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Are we Prepared? How and Why America is Vulnerable to Climate Change

Sep 01, 2016 04:10 AM EDT
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Climate change is sweeping throughout the world, but how prepared is the U.S.? A new study, one of the first ones to systematically assess how the different cities in the country are setting up for the effects of the climate change, evaluates the holes in America's defenses.

National Experts and Urban Planners are Not in Sync

According to a report from Phys Org, the study found that national experts' assessments of the urban climate vulnerability do not usually address the real risks in the urban setting.

Sabrina McCormick, PhD, an Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, conducted 65 interviews with people in six different cities all over the country. Local experts think of climate vulnerabilities in the line of infrastructure and population, which isn't always the framework used by national officials.

She explained that national experts must make sure the assessments are actually of good use to the urban planners. One of McCormick's suggestions is for the national experts to focus on the human health impacts.

Climate Change Problem is Not Universally Acknowledged

Another problem that the interviews revealed was the obstacle of some institutions not acknowledging the threats of climate change. The issue remains a hotly-debated subject everywhere in the United States, the most politically polarizing topic in the country.

"It's more politically polarizing than abortion," Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, said to the Associated Press in a report from CS Monitor. "It's more politically polarizing than gay marriage."

The surveys conducted by Leiserowitz and his colleagues reveal that 17 percent of Americans see climate change as a serious threat and support acting immediately to combat it, while a bigger 28 percent are concerned but believe the threat is more distant and less urgent. Another 10 percent do not believe climate change.

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