The Apache Pow Wow

Climate Change Not on FEMA’s Agenda

Christine Law, Staff Writer

With all of the natural disasters, such as floods and hurricanes, that have happened in the past year, the U.S. government has recently taken steps to prevent and protect against future occurrences. Under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released its plans for the next four years. FEMA is an agency that former President Jimmy Carter, through the Presidential Reorganization Plan No. 3, created in 1978. Its purpose was to direct responses to natural emergencies or disasters. To receive help from FEMA, a state’s officials must claim to be in a state of emergency and ask the president to elicit aid from the government.

On Mar. 15, FEMA released its plan, titled “Strategic Plan” that outlined the agency’s vision for natural disaster relief and recovery. The plan detailed three parts: encouraging society to be prepared for any sudden disasters, making sure the country is ready in any case, and reducing the complexity of FEMA in order for the agency to assist people as quickly as possible. The main focus of the document was a prevention of natural disasters with regard to the costs of preventative programs. According to FEMA, “Disaster costs are expected to continue to increase due to rising natural hazard risk, decaying critical infrastructure, and economic pressures that limit investments in risk resilience. As good stewards of taxpayer dollars, FEMA must ensure that our programs are fiscally sound.” Disasters that occurred last year cost the U.S. about $306 billion, a price that federal taxpayers had to cover.

FEMA also promised to “consider new pathways to long-term disaster risk reduction, including increased investments in pre-disaster mitigation.” It agreed that natural disasters will only become more common as time passes and risk-prevention measures need to be taken; however, it failed to mention anything about the main factor that causes disasters: climate change, which includes rising sea levels and extreme weather. FEMA’s last Strategic Plan previously included targeting climate change as it promised to “ensure that future risks, including those influenced by climate change, are effectively integrated into the Agency’s risk assessment resources and processes.” Its disregard for climate change may be due to its administrator, Brock Long, who was appointed by President Trump last year and ambiguously confirmed the existence of climate change.

With FEMA’s decision to exclude climate change in its recent Strategic Plan, the U.S. is at a heightened risk when dealing with natural disasters. Greater costs to rebuilding cities after natural disasters and greater danger to people’s lives will be possible consequences in the future.

Graphic courtesy of THEVERGE.COM

 

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Climate Change Not on FEMA’s Agenda