Politics aside, it’s time to get serious about adaptation.

People wait to enter the Germain Arena, which has served as a shelter from Hurricane Irma, on Saturday in Estero, Florida. Even as economic losses from disasters have risen, the number of human lives lost has dropped.

Over the span of just weeks, two of the nation’s most population-dense regions began a long and difficult road to recovery. Houstonians have already launched their extensive process of rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey, and Floridians are just starting to return home to assess the devastation wrought by Hurricane Irma. In the same period, wildfires continued to scorch the Western United States, Mexico’s most powerful earthquake in a century struck just off its southern coast, and monsoons persisted in their deadly deluge of parts of northern India. As we seek the best way to offer assistance, we’re also considering how we can prevent suffering and loss from natural disasters like these in the future.

Read more: The Most Important Thing We Can Do to Prepare for Weather Extremes


If accelerating floods and storms worldwide were freak events, a purely reactive crisis-response would be justified. But because this change is the predictable outcome of human activity, proactive prevention is now the only lasting response to weather disasters. Scientific evidence is clear about the human hand in global warming aggravating these events. Although many of us are now finally making the connection, climate change is nevertheless still seen as something over the horizon, rather than an immediate danger. Unless this mindset changes, action to mitigate weather disasters will continue to trail behind a very dangerous reality.

Read more: Commentary: Prevent, don't react, to climate danger: Shift hurricane mindset


  • Environment ministers at the first Asia-Pacific Ministerial Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, organized jointly by UN Environment and ESCAP, discussed measures to improve resource efficiency and combat pollution.
  • Ministers emphasized the need for concerted action on a range of environmental issues, including waste management, transboundary pollution and marine litter.
  • At the close of the Summit, they adopted a Ministerial Declaration and agreed to forward further recommendations to the third meeting of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-3).

Read more: Asia-Pacific Summit Prioritizes Resource Efficiency, Anti-Pollution Measures


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