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There is another challenge. Emergency management tends to forecast only in the short term to support the plan being written today. That assessment is almost always based on today’s known hazards and historical data. If we use today’s hazards as the basis for a plan that may not be revised for 2 to 5 years, the foundation of the plan is obsolete almost as soon as the document is finally completed (given that a hazard analysis is one of the first planning tasks undertaken).
Hazard analyses should be hazard forecasts as much as they are hazard analyses. Otherwise the analysis does not project conditions throughout the lifetime of the plan. This requires an environmental sensing system that generates not only today’s data, but also identifies the existence and direction of trends in the development of hazards. Of equal importance is the identification of emerging hazards, those that have not yet been recognized but which are implied by the trends and by today’s conditions. For example, if global warming is happening, and the evidence suggests it is, the basis for future coastal mitigation planning must account for the change in winter and summer oceanic storm impacts, not based on today’s conditions, but rather on conditions accompanied by a significant sea level rise.