Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed into law the Community Risk and Resiliency Act to strengthen New York State’s preparedness for the effects of climate change and help protect communities against severe weather and sea level rise. The Community Risk and Resiliency Act advances a number of important recommendations of the NYS 2100 Commission, which the Governor convened after Superstorm Sandy to develop more resilient infrastructure systems across the state.
Thanks to Franklin McDonald for the citation.
For full text of the law, go to this site. I do not know how significant this legislation is likely to be. Nor do I know if any other states have similar laws. Be glad to hear from readers on these matters.
Richard S. Olson, director of the Extreme Events Institute at Florida International University, said companies have a growing incentive to reduce the risk of disaster damage to suppliers and customers because the insurance and reinsurance industries increasingly account for such risk in pricing their coverage.
Natural disaster risk is starting to command more attention because it is increasing worldwide. “The private sector’s awareness has spiked because of the vulnerabilities they’ve seen in their supply and production chains, and because the insurance and reinsurance industries are paying more attention to track recurrences of hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons,” Olson said. “There’s much more attention being paid by risk modelers to natural disasters.”
After disasters like the Oso landslide in Washington State, a common question is why people are allowed to live in such dangerous places. On the website of Scientific American, for example, the blogger Dana Hunter wrote, “It infuriates me when officials know an area is unsafe, and allow people to build there anyway.”
But things are rarely simple when government power meets property rights. The government has broad authority to regulate safety in decisions about where and how to build, but it can count on trouble when it tries to restrict the right to build. “Often, it ends up in court,” said Lynn Highland, a geographer with the United States Geological Survey’s landslide program in Golden, Colo.
In an authoritative report due out Monday a United Nations climate panel for the first time is connecting hotter global temperatures to hotter global tempers. Top scientists are saying that climate change will complicate and worsen existing global security problems, such as civil wars, strife between nations and refugees.
They’re not saying it will cause violence, but will be an added factor making things even more dangerous. Fights over resources, like water and energy, hunger and extreme weather will all go into the mix to destabilize the world a bit more, says the report by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The report is based on more than 12,000 peer reviewed scientific studies. Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, a co-sponsor of the climate panel, said this report was “the most solid evidence you can get in any scientific discipline.”
Update:An eeire coincidence that on March 29, LA experiences a 5.1 magnitude earthquake and more than 100 aftershocks. Damaged to small number of residential structures have been documented. See this account from the LA Times.
Hurricane Sandy caused an estimated $65 billion in economic losses to residences, business owners, and infrastructure owners. It is the second most costly natural disaster in recent years in the United States, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but it is not an outlier; economic and insured losses from devastating natural catastrophes in the United States and worldwide are climbing.
According to Munich Re,2 real-dollar economic losses from natural catastrophes alone have increased from $528 billion (1981–1990), to $1,197 billion (1991–2000), to $1,23 billion (2001–2010). During the past 10 years, the losses were principally due to hurricanes and resulting storm surge occurring in 2004, 2005, and 2008. Figure 1 depicts the evolution of the direct economic losses and the insured portion from great natural disasters over the period 1980–2012.2
There is a wealth of useful information in this article, which makes it hard to summarize. It is thoughtful and clearly writtten. I consider this an essential document, one that I think will be a classic in time.
It is human nature to sometimes resist and resent government regulations. Yet, if the appropriate flood mapping and floodplain management is not done by government, homeowners are left trying to make expensive plans and decisions in a void. At times citizens need public officials to determine risks and they want to be informed about them. Government is sometimes the right actor.
Some dramatic details in the aftermath of the major flood in Calgary, Alberta. Thanks to Pierre Picard for the citations.
An article about the realities that 5,000 homeowners in the High Water community face when they live in a risky area – the floodplain in Calgary. See this story in the Calgary Herald.
Here is another article that provides additional details. I cannot even imagine what a home would look like after being underwater for weeks. Small wonder the owners would like a buyout option.
Alberta Canada also is having a problem with a lack of current flood maps. See this article from the Edmonton Journal. Thanks to Franklin MacDonald for sending me these articles. The article quotes the late Gilbert White, who said,”Floods are an act of God, but flood losses are largely an act of man.”
NOTE: I have pointed out this problem to the Association of State Floodplain Managers, an organization that I think can be helpful to the Calgary folks as well as officials at the provincial and national level.