Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management

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Volume 19 Issue 1 (March 2011), Pages 1-64

Surprising Answers to Rising Sea Levels, Storms, Floods, Desertification, Earthquakes and Ever More Environmental Crises in California's Sacramento‐San Joaquin Delta (pages 34-42)

Consensus is that California's strategically important Sacramento‐San Joaquin Delta is headed for all manner of disasters, not least of which are earthquakes and the storms, floods and dry periods associated with global and regional climate change. Added to this list are other environmental problems associated with urbanization, chemical agriculture and declining fish species in the Delta. In this view, there are so many crises that if one does not happen, others will. Therefore, the probability and consequences of something failing are high, whatever way you look at it. But there is no ‘therefore’ there. The chief feature of complexity is surprise, not inevitability. Ecosystems are very complex as are the infrastructure systems mandated to reliably manage ecosystem services, including water, hydropower and renewable energy. Surprises are happening all the time, raising the questions this article answers: Who manages these surprises system‐wide in real time? What are the answers this management provides and how do they differ from current approaches environmental crisis scenarios for the Delta?

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