Learning From Sandy

This Lukewarmer believes greenhouse gases may help cause temperatures to be about 2 degrees C warmer than otherwise, which will cause damage in many regions around the world. As it’s an average, some regions will be affected more than others.

Although this will not be a civilization buster (especially for the U.S., where I write this), we will be spending money–either to prepare for and so minimize some of the effects beforehand, or to fix some of the damage afterwards. The first of these two is easier and cheaper than the second.

Whatever you call Sandy, whether hurricane or tropical storm, you can look at it as something we will see more of in a warmer world. I don’t think Sandy was caused or strengthened much by current warming, but I think it’s currently an outlier that may look more normal in the future.

The climate discussion has been limited–I find that interesting, as the storm track was influenced by the increased amount of open water in the Arctic and that open water was increased because Arctic ice was at a low level due to increased melt this summer.

Discussion about impacts, mitigation and adaptation have been even harder to find.

How close to the shore should we build? What offshore structures should we erect to soften storms’ impacts? How much cheaper are seawalls than extensive infrastructure repair? How does our current insurance system interact with public wishes and natural disasters to guide rebuilding?

Back in the Nineties, the EPA produced a document showing how modest investment could help prepare for climate change. (They have more reports here.) Ironically, it languished unnoticed because activists were making headlines with outlandish claims for much higher sea level rise than dealt with in the EPA’s plan. We might choose to revisit that now…

We also might visit other societies impacted by storms at sea, from Japan to the Netherlands, to see if we can benchmark best practice.

The sad truth is that in our rush to rebuild, to get families back in their homes and workers back at their jobs, we have the tendency to just put things back up where they were.

Pity, that.


One response to “Learning From Sandy

  1. I don’t think that co2 had a blessed thing to do with Sandy. I do think that there is an increase in severe storms that can be linked to land use changes.

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