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Climate Reality: Preparing for the Worst

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Natural disasters are on the rise, and the lack of infrastructure funding, coupled with the continuation of dirty fuel production, will mean increased disasters unless we can create reliable and sustainable solutions to our problems. Since our national leaders are doing little to stop climate change, we need to work together at local and civic levels to prepare for the worst.

From restructuring our own homes and city buildings, to producing energy from clean and sustainable sources, it is time to make the climate crisis a personal issue and attack it, starting at a local level. Here are some great places to start:

Home Renovation and Retrofitting

Amidst the many recent natural disasters that have devastated and even destroyed homes, you may be wondering how your own home would fare if faced with a fire, hurricane, or earthquake. Depending on what potential dangers loom in the town in which you live and the current state of your home, you may be overwhelmed by the possibility of what may happen.

If, after looking into the structural integrity of your home, you want to make changes to ensure it will be able to withstand what Mother Nature could unexpectedly throw its way, investing money on home improvements is a smart move. Once you decide on what improvements to make, consider applying for a 203 (k) loan, a type of loan specifically for permanent home improvements. All one- to four-unit properties are eligible as long as part of the structure -- at least the foundation -- is still in place.

In addition to aesthetic renovations, the money may be put towards structural improvements to ensure your house would withstand an earthquake or hurricane. The money can also be put to landscape work, which can make a big difference if your house is ever threatened by a fire. Energy-conservation improvements are also eligible, which can help prevent further environmental damage. Not only can these improvements protect you and your family, but they also add value to your home, making it an all-around positive investment.

Designing a Better Future

While taking your personal safety and environmental responsibility into your own hands is a crucial first step, funneling energy into local improvements in your extending community is just as important. Better, mindful city planning should be at the forefront of building infrastructures and renovating old ones. Making sure buildings are not only up to code city-wide, but also building them to withstand natural disasters and working towards cleaner sources of energy needs to be a priority.

Fortunately, careers such as civil engineering are designed to do just that. Between coming up with high-quality uses for natural resources and providing ways to protect those resources from contamination, civil engineers help to identify and resolve environmental issues. For example, according to Ohio University, engineers are currently looking into algae blooms (the negative overgrowth of algae in water systems), water treatment methodology that is better on the environment, and eliminating micro-contaminants in natural waters.

Addressing Climate Justice

In the face of natural disasters, help can be found in unexpected places. Beyond nonprofit organizations, social entrepreneurs and IT professionals can help in disaster preparation and recovery. IT leaders claim that recognizing human value and adapting technology to better fit human needs can help be a driving force in the modern world.

As explained by Engineering for Change (E4C), IT can be incorporated into disaster relief in a number of ways: in situations involving missing people robots and drones can be used to locate them; when network coverage is out, technology can be used to allow phones to communicate with each other; tools can be used to find people buried under 20 feet of rubble. Additionally, technology can be used to predict floods, earthquakes, and the spread of wildfires, which can give people time to evacuate before disaster strikes.

Likewise, according to social work professionals at Case Western Reserve University, social workers not only provide emotional support to victims of ongoing natural disasters, but also help bring attention to issues. Though some cases like the contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan, don't receive much aid in response to nationwide media attention, other cases, like hurricane-ravished Puerto Rico, do benefit greatly from the efforts of advocates.

Thinking about potential threats to our safety is a human instinct that has helped us survive for hundreds of years. Though we now tend to rely on modern technology for survival, we shouldn't forget to plan for difficult situations. Disaster response is important, but we should also focus on building structurally sound communities and work to prepare ourselves for when it is necessary.

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Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.
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