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Managing Risk: Key to Climate Change Adaptation for Resource Managers (part 2)

Risk management doesn’t mean trying to address all risks in all ways, “riding off in all directions,” spending money, time, energy, and social capital trying to drive every risk we identify to zero. There is no shortage of risks to manage. But neither does it mean just “hunkering down,” waiting to see what happens. No-action can be the riskiest action of all. And it’s not a very good way to learn. To learn forward, you have to lean forward. As my grandfather told me, “You can’t steer that bicycle unless you get it moving.”

Risk management is useful for helping us to decide and to explain how we have decided what not to do as much as what to do. It doesn’t make the decisions any easier, but it can help us make tradeoffs and opportunities more clear and guide us to making the highest possible reduction across multiple risks. We will need all the help we can get in sorting through which risks to handle first and how far to go in reducing particular risks.

Risk management is how we are approaching the challenges of adapting to climate change. It allows us to think through how we will anticipate and respond to change. Exposure to climate change occurs as it interacts through and with other hazards and stressors that already affect the resources we care about. Adapting to this risk is not a one-time thing because the risks will always be changing. Adaptation, therefore, is not an endpoint, but a perpetual series of risk-based adjustments – a forward spiral of adaptive risk management cycles.

In adaptive risk management, we heighten the emphasis on changing conditions, never assuming that we have a particular risk “nailed down.” We are constantly reassessing the chances and consequences, managing the risks we see coming and preparing to handle the surprises that will inevitably occur despite our most diligent attempts to forecast them.

The adaptation dimension of the climate change scorecard (Elements 6, 7, and 8) is all about adaptive risk management. Assessing vulnerability is the process of identifying and characterizing (a) exposures of key resources and values to interacting climate-driven and non-climate stressors, (b) sensitivity of these resources to this exposure, and (c) the adaptive capacity of the resource to recover after being exposed or to gracefully transition to a new condition. Adaptation actions are risk management adjustments to these vulnerabilities. They may be designed to resist exposure, build resilience (reduce sensitivity or increase adaptive capacity), or facilitate transition with the least harmful disruption of important functions and processes. And monitoring is a focused process to check efficacy of these measures and detect signals of changing conditions that would justify reassessment and readjustments of our actions.

This is part two of a two-part series from the U.S. Forest Service. Read part one here!

One Response to “Managing Risk: Key to Climate Change Adaptation for Resource Managers (part 2)”

  1. Ava Sharee Cain-White says:

    So this is what you all were doing when I lived on Krenek. Well what I am glad that you all have responded to each of my inquiries because this is what I have to make a statement on. My children were placed in High Risk for many things that they should not have had to go through and yet they did and I did also. The people that were spying on me and my children and providing information should not have been chosen for such an assignment because they were absolutely no help to me or to my children and only to management, people near and far and the Church or Churches that they reported to further our disruptive transition. The lies that were told to me by management and they things they did were only for their gain which had nothing to do with my children and I gain, in any kind of way and yes resilience is what have come out of it and yet there are things that just should not have happened. I have been looking for employment for over three years now and the very same people that are in your employ via the apartments they are managing through the companies they are working for that are in business with USDA and Public Housing are more out for self and not for the single mother that is looking for employment and is trying to do something for herself and her children or should I say the 44 year old mother… I have been subjected to all sorts of things and many other women are experiencing the same things. At what point in my life have I ever stated that I would not be willing to work for pay, meaning pay not just for free always or for clothes or food, all of that is needed for everyone and yet I have never stated that I did not want or need to work for pay, money, payroll checks for me. If I have been personally paid for all of what I personally contributed, which have been more than what I have received in return then my children and I would not be in a Homeless shelter and my son would be staying with my daughters and I and I would be making money off of everything that others have benefited from and living in our own apartment or house with our dog Lucky. The Risk aspect of everything that have been implemented can have serious long-term effects on those whose lives are being tampered with and could really hurt them in ways that are just not good at all and it is for this very reason why I keep my daughters very close to me and my son. So reassess and readjust because I need to become employed or get paid for what I do on a daily basis.

    Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to comment because sometimes when the larger picture is the only picture or vision that is being seen without any specific attention to some details that should not be overlooked then their could be something really important that should be taken into consideration that is deliberatly being buried because of those that do not want any sunshine or light shown on it and it still continues even as I sat and spoke with an Employee Advisor on Garth Road, today Wednesday, October 5, 2011.

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