No Mention of Climate Change in FEMA’s Strategic Plan

From the HuffPost: FEMA’s Latest Excuse For Why It’s Ignoring Climate Change: It Forgot

Rep. Keith Ellison asked the agency why, and so far he’s not happy with the answer. In its latest response, FEMA says it basically forgot.

“There was no decision, and no direction, to deliberately avoid or omit any particular term in the writing of the 2018-2022 Strategic Plan,” FEMA Director Brock Long wrote on April 12, referring to the document the agency uses to help anticipate and prepare the nation for natural disasters.

Long’s claim is a remarkable one given that 2017 was the costliest, most-damaging year on record for weather and climate-related disasters in the U.S., and the third-warmest year on record. Experts predict those costs, which directly impact FEMA’s operation, will increase as the climate shifts further and further from its baseline.

Coastal Issues for Boston

The Wall St. Journal published an article on Jan. 28th titled: Boston Agonizes Over How to Protect Itself from Future Storms; cities that designated protections for past floods find future ones may be worse, but changes carry huge price tags.

Since you have to subscribe to the WSJ in order to read it, I cannot post the full article here. I do have a copy of the full text and would be willing to share it with a limited no. of readers who request it.

Climate Change in Boston

Boston’s Rendezvous with Climate Destiny; A coastal winter storm shows one of America’s oldest cities what sea-level rise really means.

Update:  I just found this article in Ensia (thanks to Homeland Security Wire) with some details re scientific research on the issues in Boston. With storms intensifying and oceans on the rise, Boston weighs strategies for staying dry. A multi-billion-dollar seawall is among climate adaptation options under consideration for the iconic coastal city.

Climate Change and City Credit Ratings

When Climate Change Becomes a Credit Problem.

Coming in the aftermath of hurricanes that severely damaged parts of Houston and much of the United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico this year, the message from Moody’s was clear. Governments must prepare for heat waves, droughts, flooding and coastal storm surges or face credit downgrades that will make it more expensive for them to borrow money for public services and for improvements in roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

 

EDF Rescues Climate Data from EPA

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has received information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), after filing Freedom of Information requests. See Environmental Defense Fund Obtains Information on Over 1,900 Climate-Related Items Removed from or Modified on EPA Website.

[Update: here is more info from the Environment Data and Governance Initiative.]

It is a sad commentary about the current EPA Administrator that the important information is no longer available on the agency’s website.

Here is an account of the fundamental problem, from the N.Y. Times: Censoring Climate Change

The Trump administration is making it harder to find government information about climate change on the web. If you searched Google for the words “climate change” a little over six months ago, one of the first hits would have been the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

But that was before April 28, when the agency began systematically dismantling its climate change website, which had survived Democratic and Republican administrations and was a leading source of information on a global problem that the president, as a candidate, labeled “a hoax.”

“Lessons From Hurricane Harvey: Houston’s Struggle Is America’s Tale”

The Diva has been contemplating the concept of resilience, as described in the document Disaster Resilience; A National Imperative, published by the National Academy of Sciences in 2012. Reviewing it against the present setting of disaster recovery efforts in Houston, TX, the State of FL, and all of Puerto Rico has raised many questions.

Reading this powerful article in the N.Y. Times suggests to me that it is time to review current thinking about resilience and about emergency management in general. See: Lessons From Hurricane Harvey: Houston’s Struggle Is America’s TaleSome key excerpts:

For years, the local authorities turned a blind eye to runaway development. Thousands of homes have been built next to, and even inside, the boundaries of the two big reservoirs devised by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1940s after devastating floods. Back then, Houston was 20 miles downstream, its population 400,000. Today, these reservoirs are smack in the middle of an urban agglomeration of six million.

Unfortunately, nature always gets the last word. Houston’s growth contributed to the misery Harvey unleashed. The very forces that pushed the city forward are threatening its way of life.

Sprawl is only part of the story. Houston is also built on an upbeat, pro-business strategy of low taxes and little government. Many Texans regard this as the key to prosperity, an antidote to Washington. It encapsulates a potent vision of an unfettered America.

After every natural calamity, American politicians make big promises. They say: We will rebuild. We will not be defeated. Never again will we be caught unprepared.
But they rarely tackle the toughest obstacles. The hard truth, scientists say, is that climate change will increasingly require moving — not just rebuilding — entire neighborhoods, reshaping cities, even abandoning coastlines.

We need a whole new structure of governance,” he insisted. “We’ve built in watersheds, paved roads and highways because we don’t have mass transit.
“Inevitably, it all catches up with us,” the judge said. “Mother Nature has a long memory.”

See also this posting dated Sept. 7th: What H. Harvey Says about Risk, Climate, and Resilience.