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The politics of natural hazard preparedness and infrastructure: lessons for coastal defense and other climate adaptation public works
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  • D.J. Rasmussen,
  • Michael Oppenheimer,
  • Robert E Kopp,
  • Rachael Shwom
D.J. Rasmussen
Princeton University, Princeton University, Princeton University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Michael Oppenheimer
Princeton U, Princeton U, Princeton U
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Robert E Kopp
Rutgers University, Rutgers University, Rutgers University
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Rachael Shwom
Rutgers University, Rutgers University, Rutgers University
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Climate adaptation public works, such as storm surge barriers and water irrigation networks, are generally conceived, designed, and implemented by governments. Social conflict and politics have been identified in the literature as barriers to breaking ground on adaptation works. However, such broad and superficial labels can conceal deeper complexities, including specifics related to how, why, and when politics can impede implementation efforts. Here, we provide examples from the natural hazard preparedness and infrastructure literatures of how politics can play a role in conceiving, designing, and constructing storm surge barriers and other adaptation works. We highlight political obstacles related to the mobilization of interests, perverse incentives, the use of flexible/adaptable decision-making, and siting opposition. Better understanding of the social and political factors that explain why the implementation of adaptation works fails could encourage strategies and policies that are more politically relevant and feasible, saving valuable time and planning resources.
Feb 2021Published in Earth's Future volume 9 issue 2. 10.1029/2020EF001575