Preparing, and Paying for, Climate Change-Induced Disasters


Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center director talks about strategies for resilience and recovery.

During the evening hours of Dec. 10, a flurry of tornadoes ravaged several states, claiming close to 100 lives and leaving whole communities in wreckage. According to the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the storms were at least the 19th weather or climate disaster to cause more than $1 billion in damage this year, coming on the heels of droughts, wildfires, severe cold snaps, hurricanes, and other severe weather that 2021 had already wrought.

How communities prepare for and bounce back from such disasters is a focus of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center.

“A lot of what we’re thinking about is motivated by the fact that climate extremes are changing,” says Carolyn Kousky, executive director of the Risk Center. “Part of it is that extreme weather events are getting more frequent and getting more intense. But they’re also changing in location, duration, and timing. That’s been coming up with tornadoes, with people asking whether the tornado belt of this country is shifting. That raises a whole range of challenges for preparedness and response.”

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