In Case of Emergency, Read This Blog

In Case Of Emergency, Read Blog

A Citizen’s Eye View of Public Preparedness

Global Warming & Emergency Preparedness Campaigns Can Be Complementary

June 16th, 2008 · 3 Comments

At the end of Mayor Bloomberg’s Gracie Mansion reception Wednesday night marking the 5th Anniversary of the City’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program, his staffers handed out “Million Trees NYC” pamphlets promoting the Parks Department’s initiative to plant a million trees over the next decade. Whether it was intentional or not, this was a rare time where the public education campaigns on emergency preparedness and global warming were tied together on the same program. 

In fact, earlier that day in Washington, D.C., I was discussing that very subject with Time magazine’s Amanda Ripley. We have both been struck by the fact that while preparing the citizenry for emergencies has much in common with the efforts against global warming, the nation has largely embraced one cause and largely ignored the other.

It was a point that DHS Secretary Chertoff made to me last month when I asked him for his thoughts on improving civilian emergency preparedness.

“I tell you what’s fascinating. If you look at like this whole global warming thing. At some point, it captured the imagination of somebody and it became a big media thing. And then all of a sudden, every kid was coming home with information about global warming. And I wish we could get that media attentiveness in the area of preparedness, so that kids come – because this – actually, this is an area where it could make a difference if everybody had the plans and the kit and everything. You could actually see every individual could make a difference.”

The global warming campaign can and should be a model for civilian emergency preparedness in a variety of ways, including as Chertoff noted somewhat enviously, getting kids to lead the way and involving the media. But preparedness will also require the same kind of governmental and corporate commitment, high profile public spokespeople and some governmental incentives that has boosted the climate change effort.

The two campaigns are complementary and should be more linked closer together in the public’s mind — and actions. In both, society is being asked to mobilize in order to avert or mitigate potential disasters, and both are part of strengthening the nation’s general national resilience. Yes, global warming has some skeptics, but so does emergency preparedness - ironically they are usually not the same people which may conveniently add to its complementary synergy.

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Tags: Preparedness Lessons

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jon At Work // Jun 16, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    I’m just going to ignore this entry and continue reading the rest of your fine blog.

    Please in the future, be careful to fall for the current administration’s blaming the kids and media for their current problems.

  • 2 Roger // Jun 16, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    It’s an interesting correlation. The greatest challenge with the preparedness awareness issue is the ability to make it a part of daily life while not fear mongering or being labeled “paranoid.”

    The global warming issue is very accessible to a broad population, including kids, because it fosters the idea that tiny changes can help better the environment (recycling cans, taking public transport, lowering your carbon footprint, etc.) without having to focus on the worst case scenario of a catastrophic natural disaster caused by the warming of the planet.

    I wonder if there is an equivalent message that can be delivered about emergency preparedness?

  • 3 admin // Jun 16, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Jon, thanks for your email and nice comment about the blog. I didn’t mean to say that it was the media or kids’ fault for the failure of preparedness. If it came though that way, however, I appreciate you ignoring the entry -:)

    Roger, you make a good point about differences inherent in the two issues. I do think that global warming advocates have successfully been able to use worst case scenarios in part because a melting iceberg doesn’t seem as much as a fear tactic as talking about potential terror attacks

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