In recent years it seems as if natural disasters have become more prevalent on American shores, plains and country sides. Although the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and thousands of volunteers offered help after Hurricane Sandy slammed the east coast this past October, it seems like this hurricane was just one of hundreds more to come.
With mega-storms becoming common occurrences, the cleanup stage after Sandy almost seemed routine. For example, despite the shattered well-being of thousands of people and an outstanding financial burden, we’ve already “moved on” from Hurricane Sandy.
But it is important to ignore the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality when it comes to destructive forces such as Hurricane Sandy. It is especially easy for Midwest folks to send the storm to the back of their minds considering they don’t feel any direct effects. However, at the Voinovich School, we find it crucial to face these issues rather than ignore them.
The Ohio University’s Environmental Studies Program’s mission statement and purpose is “to equip students to understand and solve environmental problems, by integrating perspectives of biological sciences, physical sciences, social sciences and humanities.”
The part of the mission that sticks with me the most is the idea of understanding environmental events. No matter how many preventative measures we take, there will still be severe after-effects and destruction as a result of extreme weather. That being said, it is important to focus on causes of such disastrous storms.
Dr. Geoff Dabelko, Professor and Director of Environmental Studies explains, “While adapting to these new realities is key, it is also critical to ask and understand what forces are driving the troubling trends we see in extreme weather events in the United States and around the world.”
Whether the increase of mega-storms is a rising surface temperature or pure coincidence, students, scholars and practitioners, such as those at the Voinovich School, understand the need to further analyze extreme weather. If we fail to do so, I personally fear that storm by storm, we will lose sight of the negative consequences each one brings to our nation and those directly affected.
Hurricane Sandy, a storm responsible for thousands of flooded homes, razed neighborhoods, millions of power-outages and over a hundred deaths should not just be the next natural disaster in a line of many. Instead, it should act as motivation to explore alternative research on extreme weather and possible ways to hinder it. Luckily, programs such as the Environmental Studies Program are doing just this!
For more information on national and global weather changes, check out the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee’s 3rd National Climate Assessment at http://ncadac.globalchange.gov/.