“Teachable moments” about … lessons learned Michael H. Glantz (CCB, Boulder) S.H.M. Fakhruddin (RIMES, Bangkok) Green Economy Conference September 27, Nepal
What does it mean to be a “lesson” learned inthe context of hydro-meteorological hazards? Actions are taken to avert or to mitigate the impacts of the hazard, based on forecasts and on previous experiences.“To be Forewarned is to be forearmed.”
There are many myths about lessons learnedMisperceptions Falsehoods Fallacies
“Ecosystems goods and services”: a perception at the root of the problem?• The Millennium Assessment’s :• ‘Ecosystems goods and service for human well-being.’ • This is ego-centric.• Change it to ‘Human goods and services for ecosystem well being’ • This is eco-centric.
It comes down to this: Do We Need Nature? • This was the topic of a Shell Oil Co. essay contestIt’s sad that they askedthis question, because …
We spend lots of time and money onenvironmental education for youth
The big question is not whether youth can learn, but …
Myth: Lessons identified is a lessons learned• Disasters provide “teachable moments” about how better to prepare.• But identifying a ? teachable moment is only part of the solution.• There must be people to listen and use them to prepare for an uncertain hydro-climate future. “Don’t believe everything that you think.”
Myth: History is not useful to cope with an uncertain (climate) future •Scientists say the climate of the future will not be like that of the past. •This contributes to the “1999 -2000 problem”To rebuild or not to rebuild.That is the question. •Yet, the near future is likely to be similar to the recent past. Lessons can be shared between adjacent generations. “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
What is a lesson learned in the context of a changing climate?• Higher education occupies a central position in shaping the way how to cope with the challenge of climate change.• www.climate-campus.org
Myth: Technology is the answer! (but what is the question?)• A new Technological can be considered neutral.• Why and how it is used determines its impacts.• “Technological fixes” often produce unanticipated, adverse impacts that in turn require new tech fixes. “In nature there is no free lunch”
Myth: Education is the answer. (but what was the question?) • This is valid as a general belief, but many smart people still make bad decisions. • Listen to those at risk! They are the true first responders to creeping and quick onset changes.Q: “How could you answer those difficult questions? You havenever been to school.”Ans: “They happened to ask me the 12 things I do know.” (from‘Slumdog Millionaire’)
Myth: Things will have to change• People fear change, often preferring the devil they know to the devil they don’t know.• They want lives to get back to ‘normal.’ But what was ‘normal?’• Change from “business as usual” has to be encouraged as it will not necessarily occur on its own merits. “The first step in the hardest.”
Myth: Political leaders say what they mean (and mean what they say)•Political leadersrespond to a variety ofpressures on them.•Doublespeak is “anylanguage that pretendsto to communicate butactually disguises,distorts, obscures orreverses its actualmeaning.”•It is a statement that is “To someone with a hammernot literally false but everything looks like a nail.”that cleverly avoids anunpleasant truth.”
Myth: Better recommendations mean better decisions•Who is responsible forfollow up on thelessons/recommendations?•This must change.•Post-disasterrecommendations, oftencome without mention ofaccountability or “you can lead a horse to water,responsibility. but you can’t make it drink.”
Myth: Where there is a will, there is a way• Those in society who favor change after a disaster are not the ones in control of the funds needed to make those changes.• And they do not often live in the same “If you don’t succeed at disaster-prone region. first, try, try again.”
Myth: “Once burned. Twice shy.”• This expression of folk wisdom sounds good and makes sense.• History shows, however, that for a variety of reasons people do not necessarily learn from their "One of the things thats mistakes. becoming pretty clear ... is everybodys a little risk-averse.”
Climate, water and weather related lessons identified by analogy• Post-disaster societal responses in other locations can provide insights into disaster avoidance in the future by use of analogies.• However, analogies must be used with caution and the reason for using them must be made explicit so other can see the proposed and reasons behind the use of the analogy “We know nothing of what in the first place. will happen in future, but by analogy of experience.”
“The world turns on lessons learned” • Each generation is on a learning curve to benefit the future from the earlier experiences. • BUT, societies “discount past experiences.” • They value past experiences much less recent ones. “Oh, lessons learned And they sure run deep. They dont go away And they dont come cheap.” (from a song about lessons learned by Lawrence Tracy).
1962 Freeze in Florida• Oranges in the tropics remain green. Difficult to identify as ripened• A major freeze in Florida in 1962, sparked a sharp increase in the price of OJ in stores and in FCOJ.• Brazilians saw a marketing niche for their oranges … in America• Florida freezes in the early 1980s gave impetus to Brazil’s export of FCOJ
Brazil, soybeans and the 1972-73 El Nino impacts on Peru fishery• The collapse of the anchovy fishery sparked a demand for an alternative feed for chicken industry in USA• second choice: soybeans• Wheat farmers switched to soybeans due to elevated prices.• Brazilians entered the soybean production business using training by USA• Now they are no. 1 as soybean exporters
Examples of lack of use of existing information• Draining inland sea• Energy examples• Can green economy be built on fossil fuels?• ‘Challenger’ failure• Hurricane preparedness: New Orleans
Cyclone SIDR (Bangladesh)• A false tsunami warning one week before it actually occurred, fostered a mistrust when the credible warning was issued.• The lack of plans for the development of safe shelters left people and livestock at high risk.
Cyclone NARGIS (Myanmar)• A reliable cyclone forecast was provided 5 days in advance of its landfall but no government concern was apparent about its foreseeable physical and societal impacts.• Political isolation of the governments and lack of mechanisms for effective response magnified Nargis’s impacts.
Hurricane Katrina 2005• Industrializedcountries are notimmune fromclimate risks.•Even a perfectforecast requiresan effectiveresponse to anduse of it.
Myth: Lessons identified warn everyone• Lessons identified following a disaster are not shared with everyone.“Experience is a hard teacher. She gives a testfirst, and the lesson afterward.”
Something to consider:How about an international YOUTH-demanded, disaster-related “Lessons Learned about Lessons Learned” Summit? Mt. Everest Summit
While there are many Plans B,remind policy makers that …