Daily Archives: January 5, 2012

Risk Mitigation 2012: Environment

In our last post, we covered some potential mitigations for each of the top three societal risks that we identified in our Risk 2011 series. In this post, we are going to cover some potential mitigations for each of the top three environmental risks as we continue our series of posts inspired by the World Economic Forum‘s recently released 6th annual Global Risks report, 2011 edition.

03: Climate Change

There is very little that a single corporation can do to prevent climate change. It can reduce it’s carbon emissions until they are almost zero, but if all of the other corporations don’t follow suit, the climate will change. And even if many other corporations follow suit, a major volcanic eruption that spewed cubic kilometres of ash into the air could significantly affect climate, as could a significant asteroid impact that sent cubic kilometres of dirt into the air and triggered a chain of volcanic eruptions.

However, if the temperature keeps rising, it is a given that sea levels will rise, droughts will worsen, and deserts will expand. These are three aspects of climate change an organization can plan for and take steps to minimize their impact. The organization can take care not to build near the ocean where the ground level is near sea level, as these areas would not only be at high risk of flooding as a result of high rains or tropical storms, but could be under sea level in the years to come. It can also avoid building near the edges of deserts as the water supply could become scarce as time goes on. And it can expect droughts in hotter regions and be sure to create additional reservoirs just in case.

02: Earthquakes & Volcanic Eruptions

Earthquakes can’t be prevented, and can’t be reliably predicted, but they are inevitable, and they are more likely in certain areas. Specifically, on the edge of active tectonic plates and near the Ring of Fire, the Mid-Atlantic Ridges, and the Mediterranean-Asian seismic belt. If you must maintain, or use, production facilities at, or near, these areas, make sure that you have secondary facilities available to you that can be ramped up quickly in case the primary are temporarily, or permanently, taken out by an earthquake.

The same goes for volcanos, but many volcanos that erupt are, or were recently, active. Thus, if there is, or was (in the past few hundred years) an active volcano in the nearby region, take the same precautions as you would if the production facility is in a major earthquake zone.

01: Flooding

Flood are becoming more common in recent years, and the devastation they can cause can be significant and far reaching. With sea levels projected to rise, the planet expected to warm, and the climate expected to change accordingly, the risk of floods is on the rise. As a result, you can expect more floods in years to come. Identify each location near the ocean, and especially near areas at risk of any kind of tropical storm (such as a hurricane, cyclone, or tsunami), and plan for the worst. As with earthquakes and volcanos, have secondary facilities lined up and ready to ramp up at a moment’s notice. And have one or more ways to quickly relocate inventory should the need arise.