What We’re Reading: Reports, Reports, Reports

Posted by on June 24, 2013 in Blog, Coastal Resilience | 0 comments

In advance of President Obama’s long-awaited speech on climate tomorrow, coincidentally or not, a number of brand new reports were issued today that we’ll be perusing. Here are some early top-level highlights, though.

1. The Associated Press has a report on “Resilience in the Wake of Superstorm Sandy.” With funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Associated Press—NORC Center for Public Affairs Research conducted a national survey “to systematically measure the impact of the storm on individuals and neighborhoods and to assess the level of recovery six months after the storm; and to learn how neighborhood characteristics and social factors relate to recovery and resilience.” We took immediate note of the key findings that “two-thirds of Americans support government assistance in rebuilding, with a smaller majority supporting buyouts in areas susceptible to natural disasters.”

2. A new report to FEMA analyzes the long-term impacts of climate change and population growth on the National Flood Insurance Program. We took note of a key technical finding that the impacts depend somewhat on whether one assumes a fixed or changing coastline. In other words, the report points out the semi-obvious fact that if sea levels rise, then the coastline moves (permanently) inland, moving the floodplain with it.  The area of the floodplain doesn’t necessarily change — it just moves.  Even with a moving coastline, the report predicts that the total number of NFIP insurance policies may increase by approximately 80% by the end of the century. The number of riverine policies may increase by about 100%, and the number of coastal policies may increase by approximately 60%.

3. Late last week, the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative issued a report calling on the federal government to improve the management of ocean resources, including coastal protections.  The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative was established in 2005 and is organized to promote the work of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission. The Initiative was initially co-chaired by the late Admiral James D. Watkins (chair of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy) and Leon E. Panetta (chair of the Pew Oceans Commission) and is currently co-chaired by William Ruckelshaus and Norman Mineta.  The major recommendations in the report (pdf) are:

  • Enhance the resiliency of coastal communities and ocean ecosystems to dramatic changes underway in our oceans and on our coasts;
  • Promote ocean renewable energy development and reinvest in our oceans;
  • Support state and regional ocean and coastal priorities; and
  • Improve Arctic research and management.

4. Finally, a study recently and quietly released from a military think tank, the Center for Naval Analyses, suggests that climate change is a very serious problem and that a strategic focus on drilling for North American fossil fuels has been misguided.  From the abstract:

North America and Europe’s continued reliance on imported oil makes us vulnerable to volatile global prices, risky supply lines, and unpredictable foreign governments. At the same time, our consumption of oil and other fossil fuels contributes to climate change, which poses growing risks to our infrastructure, livelihoods, and national security. Using more natural gas and oil, even if domestically produced, neither frees our economies from global oil prices nor checks the greenhouse gas emissions that threaten future generations. The only sustainable solution to this dual challenge is to improve our energy efficiency and diversify our energy sources to include cleaner and renewable power.

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