While the East Coast of the United States is now acutely aware of the dangers posed by rising sea levels and intensifying storms, the populations most at risk to such events (which are largely found in the developing world's megacities) have far less tools to respond to them. Experts are hoping the events of this week have caught the attention of leaders in such cities as Mumbai, Shanghai, and Bangkok.
"These cities are undergoing very rapid expansion and they are not only exposed to sea-level rise, they are also exposed to tropical cyclones," said Bob Ward, director of policy at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in London. "It is clear there isn't any urban planning going on, and they have a lot of poor people living in very low-quality housing who are going to be especially vulnerable and exposed."
"Awareness of the risks and good governance are key to diminishing the threat," said Ashvin Dayal, head of the Rockefeller Foundation in Asia, which supports strengthening the region's climate defenses. Preventative measures could include better planning, rebuilding natural defenses, cementing floors, and preserving flood plains.