To observe the International Day for Disaster Reduction on Oct.13, the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly’s Emergency Preparedness Task Force (SWEPT) held a book talk at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church. The authors and environmentalists, Dr. John “Jack” Wennersten and Denise Robbins, discussed their new book, Rising Tides: Climate Refugees in the Twenty-First Century.

Whereas asylum seekers fleeing persecution are frequently in the public spotlight these days, climate refugees are rarely mentioned, despite the fact that out of more than 50,000,000 refugees around the world, 20,000,000 are climate refugees, the writers report. According to Wennersten and Robbins, the number of climate refugees will continue to rise as a result of the growing impacts of climate change and the eventuality of “climate departure,” an idea that the climate is moving away from a rational pattern toward unpredictability. Governments and societies will not be able to dismiss the problem forever and should focus on sustainable absorption and resettlement processes to address climate refugees.

The devastation of this year’s hurricane season in the United States highlights the relevance of the issue for us here at home. At the end of the talk, the audience reflected on whether DC is prepared for a major natural disaster and would be able to accommodate climate refugees from somewhere else in the country.

To learn more about SWEPT or other Southwest Neighborhood Assembly Task Forces, visit: www.SWNA.org/task-forces/.

By: Yekaterina Plitsyna

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