Thursday, March 29, 2012


Weather risks


According to an Associated Press article by Seth Borenstein titled Mumbai, Miami on list for big weather disasters published in numerous outlets (NB), a 594-page report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, "Global warming is leading to such severe storms, droughts and heat waves that nations should prepare for an unprecedented onslaught of deadly and costly weather disasters."

Borenstein states that "This report — the summary of which was issued in November — is unique because it emphasizes managing risks and how taking precautions can work, Field said. In fact, the panel's report uses the word "risk" 4,387 times."

And that is what makes the report of interest to risk management/business continuity practitioners.

While the report targets governments at all level, risk management practitioners are well advised to spend some time considering the potential threats to the organizations they serve, either as staff or consultants.

For a number of years I have promoted incorporating risk management into construction projects, beginning with site selection. This report supports that, noting that "Globally, the scientists say that some places, particularly parts of Mumbai in India, could become uninhabitable from floods, storms and rising seas. In 2005, over 24 hours nearly 3 feet of rain fell on the city, killing more than 1,000 people and causing massive damage. Roughly 2.7 million people live in areas at risk of flooding.

"Other cities at lesser risk include Miami, Shanghai, Bangkok, China's Guangzhou, Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City, Myanmar's Yangon (formerly known as Rangoon) and India's Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta). The people of small island nations, such as the Maldives, may also need to abandon their homes because of rising seas and fierce storms."

Even without "extreme" weather events, flooding - along with fire the most common threats to "business as usual" - organizations need to involve risk management practitioners into all aspects of the operation.

If the organization must locate in a flood zone, at least put the profit center on an "above 100 year flood" level . . . and plan to have an alternate site in a no-flood zone. Flood information usually is available, at least in the U.S., but organizations often seem to be ignorant of this.

On top of the danger of flooding, the focus of the AP article, organizations also suffer increased insurance costs, particularly if they are located within close proximity to a large body of water (be it a lake, river, or ocean). This, obviously, takes its toll on the organization's "bottom line" even if the organization is a non-profit or government agency.

Yahoo! News:
Denver Post:
US News & World Report: (Badly edited)

No comments: