Chris Mooney (Washington correspondent for Seed magazine, owner of the blog The Intersection, and author of the forthcoming book Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming) wrote this article for Truthdig, which does a great job of putting the imperative of preparing our most vulnerable coastal cities from storm damage into words.
As things stand now, there's plenty of evidence that more powerful storms are more likely to visit not only the usual suspects on the Gulf coast and Atlantic coast of Florida, but are also more likely to reach further north than we've come to expect. Locations such as Long Beach, California and Rhode Island have been hit by large storms in the past - at times when infrastructure and population were much less than today. Some key quotes:
The estimated damage total if the devastating 1926 Miami hurricane were to occur today is a staggering $164 billionAnd this sensible proposal:
As the National Hurricane Center notes, as of 1990, 85 percent of U.S. coastal residents had never experienced a major hurricane landfall. Since that time, the number of these inexperienced residents has only increased, as what some hurricane scientists dub our “lemming-like march to the sea” has proceeded apace. Today, 53 percent of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coastline.
Let’s move now with a national project to protect our most vulnerable areas against hurricane devastation, not just for the present, but with an eye toward our globally warmed future. We can prioritize by starting with the most exposed places and then moving down the list.