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Jul 23, 2019

In episode 93 of America Adapts, host Doug Parsons interviews Dr. Carolyn Kousky, the Executive Director at the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the University of Pennsylvania.  In this lively discussion, Doug and Carolyn discuss: how wildfires in California drove their utility into bankruptcy and what policy reforms are needed to prevent this from happening again; who owns the legal risks of climate change; needed disaster aid reform; the dysfunctional nature of flood insurance and the need to help low income households get access to appropriate disaster insurance. These topics and much more!

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Topics covered:

  • Climate change and California wildfires and that state’s unique legal liability to these threats.
  • Who ‘owns’ risk when it come to climate impacts?
  • What are the major shortcomings of disaster aid.
  • The critical need to engage with decisionmakers early in the policy process.
  • How do you make academic adaptation research relevant in the real world.
  • History and role of the Penn Risk Management Center.
  • The challenge of people making illogical home buying decisions even if presented with accurate disaster risk information. (think flood plain and coastlines)
  • Low income families need for disaster insurance and policy reform to help them get it.
  • Why would any rationale private insurer do business in Florida?
  • Need a Medicaid equivalent for low income households on resilience.
  • What are the adaptation academic opportunities in universities.

Dr. Carolyn Kousky is Executive Director at the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the University of Pennsylvania, where she also directs the Policy Incubator.  Dr. Kousky’s research has examined multiple aspects of disaster insurance markets, the National Flood Insurance Program, federal disaster aid and response, and policy responses to potential changes in extreme events with climate change. She has published numerous articles, reports, and book chapters on the economics and policy of natural disasters and disaster insurance markets, and is routinely cited in media outlets including NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fortune, CBS News, and Business Insurance, among others. She is the recipient of the 2013 Tartufari International Prize from the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. Dr. Kousky was a member of the National Research Council Committee on Analysis of Costs and Benefits of Reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program and is a visiting Fellow at Resources for the Future.  She has a BS in Earth Systems from Stanford University and a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard University.

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