Sunday, December 9, 2007

SAR and Climate Change

Your blogmeister grew up in Hallam Ward, Sheffield, England (cue Monty Python's old Yorkshireman sketch: "when ah were a lad we lived in a cardboard box in't middle o' t'road"), while Aimee grew up in an analogous American region close to Pittsberg PA. We both lived in a "two-up, two down" until we were about 11 years old, hers clapboard, mine Millstone Grit. This explains a lot of things, but particularly why we don't mind living in an old farmhouse miles away from nowhere with a bunch of sheep. It seems kind of luxurious to both of us.

Now my hometown MP, Nick Clegg, who also happens to be in line for the leadership of his party, the UK Libdems, has issued a call for a new civil defense structure for the UK. I've been saying for several years now, to whoever would listen, that the first effects of climate change we would see in much of the northern hemisphere will be increasing numbers of extreme weather events, and that community-based emergency response efforts would become more and more critical as years went by. For me personally, it's been deja vu all over again, as my former life as an SAR professional reunites with my current life as a climate mitigation specialist. Witness recent events in Washington State (floods), San Diego (fires), and Sheffield itself (floods). Never mind New Orleans. It's been both interesting and frustrating to watch these events unfold. As always, our leaders have feet of clay, and they fixate on the wrong thing, or miss the point.

Maine happens to be a place where civil emergencies go down quietly, if at all. As part of the SAR scene in this state (this note is crossed posted on my Maine SAR site http://ucsarmaine.blogspot.com/ and my sustainability site, http://ucsustainability.blogspot.com/) I get to be at quite a lot of emergencies. We have a good head for these things in Maine. The officials are quietly competent, the volunteers generally well-trained or at least enthusiastic, and there are lots of resources distributed widely around the state. Some of this is a credit to Unity College, of course, because we train a lot of the law enforcement types, particularly the Maine Wardens who are responsible for search and rescue, and not a few state officials and business leaders are also Unity grads or linked to the college in some way.

Mainers also tend to have lots of useful stuff in the heads (first aid, mechanics, common sense), their homes (wood stoves, oil lamps, generators, flashlights), and their trucks (four-wheel drive, snow plows, winches, jumper cables). In a word, a good ecological word, Maine is resilient. How you take a place like London or NYC and make it so, is another question. But an important one.

Read the whole article here:
A new civil defence force would defeat the politics of fear
Nick Clegg
Sunday December 9, 2007
The Observer

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