Are tornados connected to climate change? Maybe, but resilient design is needed now.

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CC BY 3.0 Architecture for Humanity

Just as we saw following Hurricane Sandy, the devastating tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma raised the question of whether the storm could be attributed to climate change. As noted earlier, while global warming is making many weather events more extreme, tornados are harder to attribute to climate change. Andrew Revkin asked a number of climate scientists to share their thoughts on the connection (or lack thereof). Revkin notes that the question of whether this storm is related to climate change is important in the long-term, but that the more important issue right now is how we design homes and communities to prepare for disasters. The responses are interesting and cover a range of topics, from resilient design to building codes.

This response from Daniel Sutter, a professor of economics at Troy University is particularly interesting:

Also with regard to your previous post about flimsy homes, consider the contrast between how cars and houses are marketed. Cars are sold under brand names, and we have a dual system of federal regulation of designs for safety and auto makers designing cars that are safer than federal regulations require, with certification by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Houses are mainly sold without brand names (I couldn’t tell you who built the house I own here in Alabama) with safety assurances coming through building codes. Many times we see that homes perform poorly in tornadoes or hurricanes, while during a commercial break on the Weather Channel last night there was a car ad touting the model’s crash test rating from the IIHS. If houses are indeed flimsy, there is probably a systematic reason for this.

Lloyd recently looked into whether shipping containers or modular designs are better for post-disaster shelters. And Kevin Kelly explained how complicated technological and societal interconnectedness makes responding to disasters a huge challenge.

There's much more to dig into at Revkin's post, so read the rest.

IMAGE: "Rebuild Moore" - Architecture for Humanity is working to help rebuild Moore, Oklahoma. After the Haiti earthquake students from Moore West Junior High raised funds for the organization to help rebuild schools for displaced students. Architecture for Humanity has 7 architects from and/or based in Oklahoma, so they already have people on the ground there. Learn more and donate to their efforts here.

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