chapter  1
6 Pages

Introduction

Climate change and variability is a multi-dimensioned hazard that can threaten life and livelihoods and impoverish people. Although weather-related disasters, such as hurricane Katrina, often appear as in frequ en t, bu t h igh-p rofile , events, the reality is th a t th ey accou n t for som e 90% , or $1.4 trillion, of recorded disaster-related econom ic losses. However, some 60% of losses derive from more m undane events such as temperature extrem es and moderate droughts (M cCarthy et al., 2001; Murnane, 2004; Mills, 2005). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that climate-driven adverse impacts will increase. Many of these impacts will not be as catastrophic as hurricane Katrina, but are more subtle events th at will gradually underm ine livelihoods, particularly for poorer com m unities that are already on the edge of their coping capacity. W ith more frequent extreme events predicted in the near future, along with subtle and com plex longer-term shifts in clim ate patterns, the challenge for public policy is effective risk reduction to both sudden extreme events and slow-onset disasters (IPCC, 2007).