Publication Details

Title: Critical Lines of Action for Vulnerability and Resilience Research and Practice: Lessons from the 2017 Hurricane Season

Author(s): Hallie Eakin; Tischa A. Muñoz-Erickson; [External Site: Opens in New Window] Maria Carmen. Lemos

Year: 2018

Source: Journal of Extreme Events

Abstract: The unprecedented number of devastating disasters recently experienced in the United States is a clarion call to revisit how we understand our vulnerability in the face of global change, and what we are prepared to do about it. We focus on the case of Hurricane María’s impact in Puerto Rico to underscore five critical concerns in addressing vulnerability and adaptation planning: (i) vulnerability as a product of flows; (ii) how our beliefs about the capacities of ourselves and others affect local vulnerability; (iii) the role uncertainty, politics, and information access play in amplifying vulnerability and complicating adaptation; (iv) the need for a better distribution of risk and responsibility in adaptation; (v) and the challenge of seizing the opportunity of disasters for transformative change. These five issues of concern were particularly evident in the case of Puerto Rico where Hurricane María’s 155 mph winds exposed existing infrastructural vulnerabilities, institutional incapacities, and socio-economic disparities. We argue that addressing these issues requires fundamental shifts in how we prepare for environmental change and disasters in the 21st century. We discuss promising approaches that may assist researchers and practitioners in addressing some of the underlying drivers of vulnerability, stemming from cross-scalar dynamics, systemic interdependencies, and the politics and social relations associated with knowledge, decision-making and action. We argue that society needs to broach the difficult topic of the equity in the distribution of risk in society and the burden of adaptation. Addressing these challenges and response imperatives is a central task of this century; the time to act is now.

Citation: Eakin, Hallie; Muñoz-Erickson, Tischa A.; Lemos, Maria Carmen. 2018. Critical Lines of Action for Vulnerability and Resilience Research and Practice: Lessons from the 2017 Hurricane Season. Journal of Extreme Events. 05(02n03): 1850015-. https://doi.org/10.1142/S234573761850015X.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1142/S234573761850015X [Opens in New Window]


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