Friday, January 17, 2014

A Martin Luther King Jr. Day Message From the President of the American Meteorological Society

Studies affirm that vulnerable groups such as racial minorities, the poor, young kids and elderly are more likely to perceive great risks from natural disasters, but are less likely to heed warnings; experience greater psychological and physical impacts, and are slower to recover. Such groups also experience, at a greater rate, a multitude of extreme weather-climate health issues like heat stress, upper respiratory illnesses, water borne disease, and post-traumatic stress. Coupled with these stressors, weather-climate price inflation, as seen during the 2012 Midwest drought or after particularly active Gulf Coast hurricane seasons, and loss of job/work hours tend to compound such impacts because of the pre-existing income gaps. I suspect that Dr. King would have viewed this as a civil rights issue too.
Look, I am not “playing any cards” here. I am simply highlighting the well-known concept of vulnerability. All people suffered during Hurricane Katrina, but the faces staring at cameras in the Superdome or on buses headed to Houston disproportionately reflected segments of our population with the least amount of adaptive capacity or resilience. A forthcoming study out of the University of Georgia Department of Geography, to be presented at the upcoming AMS conference, finds that many of the fatalities associated with the well-forecasted Superstorm Sandy were from under-represented groups.
Read the entire article here.

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