Climate change means the government faces more costs from natural disasters. If only it admitted it.

Mantoloking Sandy damage

MALKA OLDER / NBC NEWS – Hurricanes might not be becoming more frequent, but they are certainly becoming more intense, and they are doing so in ways consistent with the predicted impacts of climate change. We only need to look as far as the Caribbean to observe this in the extraordinary damage caused by Hurricane Dorian this September — flooded houses, destroyed cars and swamped infrastructure that caused scores of deaths.

Human settlements are getting more vulnerable to those hazards as the climate changes around them. Climate change can speed erosion and change shorelines and vegetation patterns, reducing natural barriers and making it harder to mitigate the devastation.

We can protect ourselves to some degree from these dire events, but only if we act before disasters strike. It’s much easier to save lives, and assets, by properly preparing for storms and other hazards than by responding after the fact. Cost-benefit analyses of disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation programming …

Malka Older is an associate researcher with the Center for the Sociology of Organizations at Institut d’Études Politques de Paris.

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