HUCE Director Daniel Schrag cited Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy for delivering the kind of impact that may be expected in the future. In New York Harbor, the record storm surge at The Battery had stood at 11.2 feet in 1821. Sandy’s tide surge hit 13.8 feet. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
October 8, 2015 | Editor’s Pick Popular
HUBweek panel says recent past helps to show where action is needed, including in Boston
By Alvin Powell, Harvard Staff Writer
For those wondering what’s needed to face down coming climate-related disasters, the approach is simple, according to one expert: Just listen to nature. It’s screaming the answer.
“Every storm tells you where the problems are,” said Robert Young, director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University. “Every storm is an opportunity to reimagine your community.”
Young told a panel on Wednesday that the problem isn’t that people don’t know which areas are vulnerable to natural disasters, or even — as climate-change science becomes more settled in the public’s mind — that they don’t understand the threat. It’s that they refuse to learn obvious and sometimes painful lessons.
“We repeatedly fail to take the opportunity to rebuild following storms in the way that makes the most sense,” Young said. “We do a terrible job at this.”