These States Are Poorly Prepared for Global Warming – Is Yours on the List?

by , 06/25/15

Global Warming, Climate Change, Extreme Weather, Matthew Babcock, State Hazard Mitigation Plan, FEMA, Natural Disaster, Climate Disaster

Every state has a plan for what to do in the event of disaster, specifically, a “State Hazard Mitigation Plan,” but there’s no requirement that these plans take global warming into consideration. As a result, individual states vary wildly from one another in their levels of preparation for storms, flooding, heatwaves and other climate disasters. This map, from Matthew Babcock at Columbia University’s Center for Climate Change Law shows each state’s level of preparation for global warming-related hazards, and, in short, it’s bad news for Delaware, better news for California.

Global Warming, Climate Change, Extreme Weather, Matthew Babcock, State Hazard Mitigation Plan, FEMA, Natural Disaster, Climate DisasterLeonard Zhukovsky /

The states depicted in yellow (category 1) are those whose Hazard Mitigation Plans feature “No
discussion of climate change or inaccurate discussion of climate change.” Those in brown (category 4) have plans that include “thorough discussion of climate change impacts on hazards and climate adaptation actions.” These State Hazard Mitigation Plans are required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in order for states to receive funding from the agency, and it is FEMA that does not require states to address global warming within their plans.

Of the states that are particularly unprepared for global warming related disaster, many are located within the center of the country—Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska and the like—regions that have so far experienced less by way of extreme weather events. Others such as Delaware, Mississippi and Alabama are somewhat more susceptible to extreme weather events such as superstorms and hurricanes, but are yet to consider the impact of climate change in their disaster preparation.

This is not the norm, however. Many of the category 4 states are those coastal states which have experienced climate-related disaster—California, New York. Babcock explains: “It may be that sea level rise and increases in frequency and intensity of storms and related hazards are more immediately linked to the need for mitigation efforts or that mitigation officers are more aware of those threats than they are of drought and heat events.” As for the lack of preparation in other disaster-prone states, Babcock adds that “political attitudes no doubt also play a role in how climate change is perceived and addressed.”

But it is not that these category 1 and 2 states are not preparing for disaster, it is simply that they are failing to acknowledge the role of climate change in the frequency and severity of those disasters: “In general, despite being at risk from hazards related to climate change (as determined by the National Climate Assessment), and despite addressing several of those hazards in their SHMPs, these states rarely connected climate change with their discussion of these hazards. Based on this sample, it is unlikely that states are omitting a discussion of climate change because climate change will not affect the hazards they face.”

Read the full report here.

+ State Hazard Mitigation Plans and Climate Change: Rating the States [PDF]

Via Fast Co.Exist

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  1. bsapp April 30, 2014 at 4:33 pm


    One thing that is being done Missouri to prepare for tornados is many schools/communities are building large safe room that can hold 1000 people and can withstand an EF5 tornado.

  2. Dan Rezaiekhaligh February 17, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Okay so what I am wondering is in an area such as Missouri where the majority of disaster are related to Flooding and Storm/Tornado. There isn’t much you can do to prepare for a tornado then what has already been done. It’s really a matter of improving our prediction ability.

    But how does the lack of climate change plan otherwise effect Missouri? I keep hearing about rising water in the oceans but how does that change freshwater flows? We’ve actually experienced a drop in avg lvl of the Missouri and Mississippi.

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