As extreme weather events seemingly increase in frequency and magnitude, we are accumulating evidence about how the intersection of circumstances creates vulnerability. The specter of elderly residents in Brooklyn, New York, trapped in their apartments for days due to flooding from the storm surge brought by Hurricane Sandy, provides us a troubling lesson. As vulnerability emerges from the confluence of multiple factors, changing social, natural, and other factors combine to create unimagined problems. Hong Kong is a case in point. The city has seen much of its new development occurring on reclaimed coastal land. At the same time, there has been a significant demographic shift as the city’s elderly population has been its fastest growing demographic. The social transition also means more elderly persons living alone. All of these produce conditions that render the population increasingly vulnerable to coastal flooding. Yet, there is not enough systematic effort, in major cities, at identifying these vulnerabilities. Hong Kong is emblematic of coastal cities the world over, in that it has yet to come to a full realization of such emerging risks. Future research must be able to analyze intersectionalities.
- extreme weather
- climate change