Conference on climate, weather-related hazards of Pacific communities

A conference this week looks at strengthening the resilience of Pacific communities to climate and weather-related hazards. It’s coordinated by PRiMO, the Pacific Risk Management ‘Ohana, a consortium of local, national, and regional organizations such as NOAA, FEMA, EPA, USGS and others, committed to strengthening the resilience of Pacific communities to climate and weather-related hazards including sea level rise, hurricanes, tsunamis, and disease outbreaks.

Every year PRiMO holds a conference in Honolulu bringing disaster management and environmental health professionals, researchers, and stakeholders from around the country and many Pacific island nations together to work on developing solutions, sharing best practices, and evaluating lessons learned from disasters.  This year the conference theme is “The Rising Pacific,” focused on climate change and associated sea level rise.

Dr. Mark Keim, Founder and CEO of Disaster Doc LLC, joined us on Wake Up 2Day to give us a preview of his keynote address for the conference. He told us, “Climate change is already creating sea-level rise that is expected to cause increases in malnutrition, disasters from extreme weather events, increases in cardio-respiratory diseases, and altered distribution of infectious disease vectors. We already see this happening in places like Micronesia, where there have been recently documented sea-level rise events that have resulted in the loss of food and water supplies, all-time record heat in Australia that has caused wildfires and crop losses, and record-setting typhoons in the Philippines and Vanuatu.

He continues, “Now that we know these impacts of climate change will occur over the next century, we can best manage the growing threat, and prevent disaster-related injuries and illnesses by firstly, not burning coal and other fossil fuels. Secondly, we need to adapt by preventing people from becoming injured and ill before the disaster, not just responding after a disaster has already occurred.”

Dr. Keim describes it as “healthy people; healthy islands; healthy communities.” Healthy people are more resilient and better survivors. Healthy islands provide safe environments and early warning systems. Healthy communities have capacity for health care, food, and water security. Prosperous communities are more resilient and better prepared.

It’s March 24 -26 at the Hawaii Convention Center, room 313. Dr. Keim will deliver the keynote address on the morning of Wednesday 3/25 from 9:15 – 10 a.m.

On-site registration is still available for $750. The PRiMO web site offers more information about the organization and conference at www.primohui.org. Dr. Keim’s Disaster Doc LLC website is at www.disasterdoc.org.

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