Hi Everybody. Great to have a chance to add to this debate, thank you for the opportunity.
a) As a citizen of the Netherlands, one of the most densly populated countries below sealevel, I can tell you that civil engineering has been a life saver for the Dutch since the 14th century. It shows risks can be managed. Both coming from the sea and from rivers that run through a country. However this requires a certain amount of knowledge, planning, preparation as well as the economic strenght to fund engineering projects. Risks to our country are calculated in terms of "failing once every thousand years". Not all low lying countries have this combination of blessings. That means that engineering elsewhere should be focused on living with the posibility of flooding and making use of clever and cheap solutions to adapt to these events. Like building your house like a boat. Smart infrastructure, roads that transform into canals, flood proof electricity, anything to keep society going. An interesting question for the debate would be: How can a not so rich country become more 'amphibious' with moderate investment, so disaster preparedness is no longer an issue?
b) Adapting to climate change comprises two things: significantly higher water levels and more extreme weather. This will require not only the ability to engineer better ways of protecting against flooding, but think also of adapting society against storms, heavy rain erosion, forest fires, aquifer depletion, dust bowls, salinity of farm soil or desertification. Question for the debate would be: what should be tackled first to prevent destabilising secondary consequences like starvation, war, large population movements (refugees) etc?
c) Mitigation of water and climate change is a tough one. It does not only take a village, it takes all countries to work together and transform all fossil fuel use into sustainable energy production. There simply is not enough effort right now to reduce CO2 emissions. But when the cassette tape can be made obsolete by the CD and the CD by the USB stick and the USB stick by streaming, fossil fuels too can be made obsolete. Question would be: if emission regulation is insufficient, what disruptive technologies should we be looking for to make fossil obsolete forever and what must they be able to provide to maintain prosperity?
d) To make communication between science and decision/policy making work beter, we must look at what didn't work. Warnings about climate change and the greenhouse gas have been around since the 1950s. Clearly crying "wolf" did not work. Not even in the largest and wealthiest of democracies. Science can perhaps better be used to develop alternatives, so communication should be directed on policy makers to get funding to develop disruptive green tech innovations. Question: How to switch the message from "negative warnings" to "positive outlooks"?
I hope this contributes to your debate. And I am looking forward to seeing the discussions.