May 24, 2000 Group Discussion

Global Warming
Is There a "Win-Win" Strategy for Emergency Management?

Amy Sebring
EIIP Moderator

Online Transcript
Download Transcript (MS Word File)

Discussion Questions

Related Reports/Articles:
1. Winning and Losing the Global Warming Debate, (March 2000)
2. The Regional Impacts of Climate Change: An Assessment of Vulnerability, (November 1997)
(See especially Section 5, Anticipatory Adaptation in the Context of Current Policies and Conditions)
3. Turning the Big Knob: An Evaluation of the Use of Energy Policy to Modulate Future
Climate Impacts
, (May 2000)

Regional/State Impacts:
EPA State Impacts Page
U.S. National Assessment: The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change
Mid Atlantic Regional Assessment Report
NCAR Climate Model Projections for 21st Century Press Release, (April 1999)
Sea-Level Rise & Global Climate Change: A Review of Impacts to U.S. Coasts, (February 2000)

General Background:
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
The Administration's Climate Change Program

National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Climate and Global Dynamics Division
PBS/Frontline's What's Up With the Weather?


EIIP Virtual Forum Group Discussion
Wednesday - May 24, 2000 - 12:00 Noon EDT

Global Warming
Is There A Win-Win Strategy for Emergency Management?

Amy Sebring
EIIP Technical Projects Coordinator

The Virtual Forum conducted a group discussion today on the theme "Global Warming: Is There A Win-Win Strategy for Emergency Management?" with Amy Sebring as moderator for the hour. Amy prefaced the discussion with remarks about her research on the topic. She explained that many individuals and organizations are involved in various aspects of this issue, and it also appears that a considerable amount of resources have been committed. All participants were referred to the background page to follow a number of links dealing primarily with assessment of potential impacts of climate change.

Amy based the discussion on the assumption that the audience was familiar with global warming issues, the concern that increasing air pollution will increase the greenhouse effect and over the long term, 100 years or so, will raise the average global temperature, with perhaps dangerous consequences. The purpose of the discussion was not to debate the science of global warming, but to discuss the relevance of the topic to the emergency management community and the strategy needed for the future.


  1. What is a "win-win" strategy?

  2. What was the attempted win-win strategy for Y2K? Did it succeed?

  3. "From the standpoint of the impacts of climate on humans and the environment, we are all losers ... because the [global warming] debate has ignored the need for society to adapt to climate. [Ref. 1.]" What is "adaptation" and what is it usually called in emergency management circles?

  4. What are some examples of adaptation needed currently that would apply as well to postulated global warming impacts, such as more frequent or severe drought, higher sea levels, more extreme weather events, more severe flooding?

  5. The IPCC Second Assessment defines "adaptability" as "the degree to which adjustments are possible in practices, processes, or structures of systems to projected or actual changes of climate. Adaptation can be spontaneous or planned, and can be carried out in response to or in anticipation of changes in conditions." What terms are used in emergency management as synonyms for adaptability?

  6. "A key message of the regional assessments in this report [Ref. 2.] is that many systems and policies are not well-adjusted even to today's climate and climate variability [emphasis added]. ...This situation suggests that there are adaptation options that would make many sectors more resilient to today's conditions and thus would help in adapting to future changes in climate." Is this key message generally known in the emergency management community? Does it suggest a strategy?

  7. "Adaptation and better incorporation of the long-term environmental consequences of resource use can be brought about through a range of approaches, including strengthening legal and institutional frameworks, removing preexisting market distortions (e.g., subsidies), correcting market failures (e.g., failure to reflect environmental damage or resource depletion in prices or inadequate economic valuation of bio-diversity), and promoting public participation and education. These types of actions would adjust resource-use patterns to current environmental conditions and better prepare systems for potential future changes. [Ref. 2.]" Do we have the political will to take meaningful action on these issues? Are there any hopeful signs?

  8. "Additional analysis of current vulnerability to today's climate fluctuations and existing coping mechanisms is needed and will offer lessons for the design of effective options for adapting to potential future changes in climate. [Ref. 2.]" Can emergency managers and researchers contribute to this analysis?

  9. "Unfortunately, in spite of high moral rhetoric from both sides the [global warming] debate itself stands in the way of further progress. We need a third way to confront climate change ... Climate changes. Let'sdeal with it [Ref.1.]." Given the current state of the debate, in the U.S. at least, does emergency management stand to win by associating disaster mitigation with this issue? Or is it potentially a lose-lose situation?

  10. Do you think the field of emergency management will be obsolete any time soon?

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Virtual Forum Page