The workshop starts the evening of April 12, and goes on all day on April 13, 2018. We are interested in working across the science/humanities interface, and will bring in people from activism and policy.

On the evening on April 12, we will have a round-table called “Ways of Explaining” where we get climate folks to engage with people working on spatial inequality and poverty.

Extreme weather challenges the capacity of existing infrastructure to cope with disasters that appear sudden, yet have roots in settled patterns of human habitation, natural resource use, and urban planning (or lack thereof). These patterns often reflect the long-term historical risks from infrequent but potentially catastrophic floods, now compounded by the gradual encroachment of sea level rise and increasingly heavy rain events.

Some of the greatest risks occur in large coastal cities built by European colonial empires in Asia and the Americas. These are port cities with complex histories of migration and development where existing patterns of environmental risk correlate with uneven access to public resources and social entitlements. Equitable policy interventions to bridge these disparities will require the combined expertise of social scientists, humanists, and climate scientists.

Our workshop will focus on major urban floods, past, present and future. We will focus on four distinctive port cities, two each in India and the United States, each the site of a major flood during the 21st century: Houston, Puerto Rico, New Orleans, New York, Mumbai, Chennai….

We ask how these disasters reflect the confluence of urban development decisions, natural climate variability, and human-induced climate change. What are the relative roles of urban development decisions, e.g., reclamation, zoning, patterns of land use and urbanization, natural climate variability, and human-induced climate change? How does scientific knowledge and risk get translated and how does the answer depend on where we are in the world and the historical context of local priorities?