Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Report recommends improved hurricane defense

The Center for American Progress (parent organization to the Climate Progress blog) just released a report outlining steps that communities and governmental agencies must take to reduce the damage that will be sustained if and when powerful hurricanes strike. The report, titled Forecast: Storm Warnings includes:

...recommendations for proven steps that communities can undertake to significantly reduce the devastation that hurricanes can suddenly deliver to those in the paths of these storms. We also outline essential steps that the federal government must take to assist cities and towns on the frontline of global warming.

So, the report serves, first, as an effort to communicate the urgency of the situation to policy makers and planners. Hurricanes stand to become more powerful, threatening more coastal locations than before. Losses could be much higher than we're used to on average. The second purpose is to recommend some specific actions for protecting coastal communities from catastrophic damage. The recommendations here have come under some question from Chris Mooney of the Intersection.

I really like the Center, but I must say I find their recently released hurricanes-and-global warming report a tad disappointing. Oddly, in my view the report is both too incautious with the science and yet also far too cautious when it comes to the policy. The complexities and uncertainties aren't really limned on the science front. And then while there's lots of talk about community-based preparedness measures, nothing CAP suggests (in my reading) would adequately prepare us for the mega-disasters that will result when--not if, but when--intense hurricanes directly hit Houston/Galveston, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Miami, New York--or New Orleans again. Measures at the community level are not going to suffice to protect cities like these. We need big thinking to prevent cities from going under water.

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