by Diane L. Mas, PhD, REHS/RS, CC-P, WEDG, Associate | Business Line Manager
The effects of climate change are broad, with implications for infrastructure, ecosystems, and human health. Understanding these implications and developing strategies to address them are the foundation of Fuss & O’Neill’s approach to climate resilience. Critical to discussing challenges and solutions for increasing climate resilience is a common vocabulary that allows for clear, consistent dialogue among all stakeholders involved. As the title of this post suggests, terms like “risk” and “vulnerability” are often (incorrectly) used interchangeably, which can lead to confusion when trying to communicate in the context of planning for or prioritizing actions to take to address resilience.
Terms used in climate communication may be the same as those used in other fields, but with different meanings. One of the most common examples is the use of the word “mitigation.” While mitigation is, by strict definition, the “process or result of making something less severe, dangerous, painful, harsh, or damaging,” in a climate context, mitigation means “reduction of greenhouse gas emissions” not, for example, restoration or creation of natural resource areas like wetlands, which is what is often thought of as “mitigation” in water resources or land use planning and permitting.
I’ve put together the following presentation to help guide the conversation and provide the foundation of a basic climate resilience vocabulary. If you have any questions about building your climate communication vocabulary, please contact me.
About the Author:
Diane Mas, PhD, REHS/RS, CC-P, WEDG is a Water Resources Engineer, Sanitarian, and Chief Resilience Officer at Fuss & O’Neill, and a founding member of the company’s environmental impact assessment practice. Her current areas of water resources practice focus on climate change resilience and adaptation for water resources; water quality assessment, modeling, and watershed management; harmful algal bloom impacts to drinking and recreational waters; and the relationship between water quality and public health.
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