Trusted Sources for Coronovirus Info

The Diva has been getting questions about the Coronavirus. The information source she likes best at the present time is the CDC, which maintains this  website.

And for practical information about personal preparation for a possible pandemic, see the Ready.Gov website.

There are all too many uninformed people, many of whom are political appointees, who are not giving correct or useful information.

Update: While this blog does not usually get into political matters, here is an alarming article from the WashPost on the topic of uninformed politicians: article on that topic: Trump has no clue what to do in a disaster

Book Review: Climate Change and Sea Level Rise in So. FL; The view of Coastal Residents

Book Review: Climate Change and Sea Level Rise in South Florida: The View of Coastal Residents, by Risa Palm and Toby Bolsen. Published by Springer Nature, Jan. 2020; ebook is $103.

Reviewer: Rob Dale is a planner for the Ingham County (Michigan) Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and meteorologist with Skywatch Services, LLC.

This book analyzes the climate change from a unique perspective – analyzing the opinions of residents in a part of the country that will be impacted quite dramatically from the warming atmosphere. South Florida has already felt some of the effects of anthropogenic climate change from higher sea levels causing a rash of “blue sky” flooding events. Research from Palm and Bosen reveals what residents consider to be their primary risks due to climate change, and then tests the use of flood maps to see if exposure to that type of information increased awareness of future impacts.

Chapter 2 explains climate change science and the effects of global warming. This is a brief high-level overview suitable for readers of any science background. Complex topics are simplified just enough to provide an understanding of the causes of a warming atmosphere, and the authors did not dwell in the details. This section concludes with specific impacts caused by climate change as a result of sea-level rise in south Florida.

Chapter 3 delves into the partisan and polarized nature of the climate change discussion. An overview of the political atmosphere gives some understanding regarding why conservative Republicans (who initially supported the science) began to dispute the scientific consensus. The value in this book being so new is that events in the Trump presidential administration are addressed, which increases the understanding of the current political environment. This chapter concludes with a topic that could stand on its own – “strategic messaging to influence climate change beliefs.” While it might seem like climate change communication simply requires educating people on the science behind it, social science research shows that simply pushing out facts does not sway opinions. The authors present guidance on strategically framing messages as well as consideration for prior beliefs, group identities, and cultural worldviews.

Chapter 4 is an overview of the south Florida area, both geographically and culturally, which leads to the study itself in Chapter 5. Roughly 1000 people were surveyed about their thoughts on climate change impacts and the cause of a warming environment. In general, a majority believes that the climate is changing primarily due to human activity, but most do not believe their homes are at risk nor do they think property values will go down as a result of worse flooding.

Chapter 6 focuses on risk communication and the impacts messaging has on opinions of south Florida residents. Half of those interviewed were shown flood maps from FloodIQ.com which plotted the projected impact from a Category 3 hurricane making landfall in 2033. This provided what I found to be the most fascinating tidbit – people who saw those maps showing worse flooding in the future became less likely to say that climate change is occurring (especially among Republicans!) The strongest predictor regarding opinions on future impacts was political party affiliation. The next chapter expands on the survey to give five specific examples of homeowners who feel they are safe from flooding yet whose homes actually are threatened. Their age, party identification, ideology, and education are all analyzed to show the real-world impacts of threat messaging.

The concluding chapter offers some direct guidance for planners and others who work in mitigation fields. The researched also asked about support for efforts that would reduce climate change impacts. Data shows that there is support for projects like increasing building set-backs, along with flood barriers and sea walls. However there is less enthusiasm for measures that would increase direct costs to homeowners.

It was not a long read and the authors did a great job giving enough science and background information to set the topic up without turning it into a science textbook. The information on messaging along with mitigation were the two primary takeaways for me as a communicator and planner. I would highly recommend this to anyone who works in areas susceptible to coastal flooding or other impacts from climate change.

Racial Inequities in Federal Buyout of Flood-Prone Homes

Racial Inequities in the Federal Buyout of Flood-Prone Homes: A Nationwide Assessment of Environmental Adaptation

One way the U.S. government is responding to the challenges of climate change is by funding the purchase of tens of thousands of flood-prone homes in more than 500 cities and towns across the country. This study provides a nationwide analysis of that program, extending beyond cost-benefit calculations to investigate racial inequities at different scales of local implementation, from county-level adoption, through neighborhood-level participation, to homeowner approval. Statistical analyses indicate that net of local flood damage, population, and incomes, the program disproportionately targets whiter counties and neighborhoods, especially in more urbanized areas where the program now concentrates. Yet it is neighborhoods of color in these areas that have been historically more likely to accept buyouts in greater numbers. The exception is the New York and New Jersey area after Hurricane Sandy. Implications for understanding how racial privilege works through government programs aimed at encouraging environmental adaptation are discussed.

Puerto Rico Now Has a Recovery Czar

Almost a month ago the Diva did a posting about the possibility of a Recovery Czar for Puerto Rico. Readers provided comments and she backed away from the idea. Now, lo and behold, she reads that one has been appointed.

From GovTech see: Puerto Rico Recovery Czar Says Trump Is Committed to the Island. Puerto Rico is bouncing back but is still waiting for much of the aid it needs to finish repairing infrastructure and homes. Congress approved $48.5 billion for island recovery, but just $15 billion has been disbursed.

As the newly appointed White House special representative for Puerto Rico’s disaster recovery, Brown will have to navigate a quagmire of bureaucracy, local and national politics, and perceptions, fueled by his boss, President Donald Trump, that the island is hopelessly corrupt.

Speaking from Washington, D.C., last week, Brown said his goal is to speed up the post-disaster recovery while making sure funds are getting to the people who need help most.

The Diva would be interested in comments from those who recall experiences with the earlier efforts of recovery czars.

Boston Harbor at Risk

Boston harbor brings ashore a new enemy: Rising seas: Facing climate change, Boston must gird itself for an era of rising water — or be inundated
Excerpts:

The sea that surrounds Boston crept up nine inches in the 20th century and is advancing ever faster toward the heart of the city.

And as climate change accelerates, the pace of sea-level rise in Boston is expected to triple, adding eight inches over 2000 levels by 2030, according to a report commissioned by the city. The ocean might climb as much as three feet above 2013 levels by 2070, the report said.