The Hurricane that Left its Mark

By Keith Kloor | November 2, 2012 4:29 pm

Well, this was some week. Not so much for me and my family. We were among the lucky ones–we never lost power where I live in NYC. But nearly all my relatives on Long Island and New Jersey did and some of them are still without power. Thanks to readers who sent their thoughts via email and this blog.

I haven’t been blogging or tweeting because I’ve been distracted by everything that’s gone on around me in the city. Plus, with schools being closed, my two kids have been home all week. And when I was on the computer, I was using that time to work on some pieces that will be out shortly.

I have followed various threads of the climate debate that are playing out in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. I have some thoughts on climate-related posts, articles and ensuing discussions, but will hold off until next week before putting them into some kind of bloggy perspective. Meanwhile, I will say this: It remains to be seen how much the hurricane will impact U.S. climate politics, but I’m fairly certain the storm was a big wake-up call for New York City.

By that, I mean its toll on the city’s infrastructure. For example, my wife works for a big company in a big modern skyscraper in downtown Manhattan–near Wall Street. That part of the city is not returning to normalcy anytime soon. The latest she’s hearing is that the building will be shut down until January. That’s incredible. And I’m pretty sure her situation is not unique.

Several weeks ago, when I attended a panel discussion on urban resilience, I wondered how long it would take for officials to make NYC more resilient to weather-related disasters like Hurricane Sandy. I’m guessing they’re going to be moving pretty fast from this day forward.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Hurricane Sandy
  • Joshua

    Glad you weathered the storm – for the most part. Lucky kids to have a couple of extra days hangin’ with pops – no doubt more valuable than a couple more days in school.

    It’s interesting how Sandy has stirred the winds of the climate debate but my guess it will have no lasting or significant impact. Adaptation will be expensive, and as soon as “skeptics” stop complaining about the lack of adaptation, they’ll start complaining about the tax and spend libruls who want to spend money on adaptation. “Skeptics” will also argue about how Sandy has nothing to do with climate change, and whine about “fraudulent” scientists who speak of a connection. “Realists” will argue in kind about deniers and big oil. Much Jell-o will fly. Pielke Jr. and Watts are already working overtime to diminish the impact of Sandy. Same ol same ol.

    I’m willing to bet a Philly soft pretzel against a Papaya King hot dog that resilience will not be significantly improved in the near future. People will spend their time arguing about marathons and 36 oz sodas. It will take a couple of more Sandy’s for the stakeholder dialog necessary to bring about real change to take place.

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    For all our disagreements of late, I am glad you are okay and wish you and your family well.

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    For all our disagreements of late, I am glad you are okay and wish you and your family well.

  • Nullius in Verba

    Glad to hear you’re all OK. I did wonder.

    I’m surprised they think they can fix things by January. That’s impressive speed – if you only lose a couple of months I’d call that pretty resilient.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I’d be interested in hearing your perceptions of what happened.

  • Mark S

    Storm barriers were discussed as one potential solution by Iain Stewart in
    2010 (23:00 mark)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-D0VEN4ZGo#t=23:00s

  • steven mosher

    Keith, glad to hear you are safe and sound.

    For grins I’ll suggest that you and others read plaNYC 2030. It’s bloombergs plan for 2030. Its around 200 pages long and a quick read. I count maybe two paragraphs devoted to the issue of adaptation/resilience.

    Of course Joshua imagines that some evil force kept government officials from considering adaptation.

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    Whether it’s NYC, the Gulf, or the southwest, we are largely not prepared for extremes the paleo and historical record tell us can happen over a long enough period even in a preindustrial climate, much less one changing due to anthro influences.

    Glad you and yours made it through.

  • Tom Scharf

    Never let a crisis go to waste.What baffles me is why there is even an effort to tie making the infrastructure more sound to the likes of climate change.  It takes an issue that has more or less bipartisan support and makes it an unnecessarily toxic polarized debate.  Is this smart?I guess one can imagine that the left is throwing spears to suggest this would have never happened if only we would have instituted a large carbon tax 4 years ago?  What is more likely to be effective?  Let’s try to get funding to build NYC’s infrastructure up to handle an ocean surge of 3 feet more than it is currently…..or let’s try to form a global coalition to reduce carbon output through a highly inequitable global taxation scheme so that we might theoretically reduce future ocean surges by a a few inches?It’s insane policy.  Counterproductive.Not to mention that the efforts to tie *** every *** single storm to climate change is almost completely devoid of the facts.  In most cases there isn’t even an upward trend in the long term statistics of the particular extreme weather event. Hurricanes….trend is stationary to downward over the last 40 years.  You have to have this trend before you can even start the really hard work of proving fractional causation.Just try to find an article that even examines the data, far and few between.  Have you seen a single hurricane trend graph in any article?  The media ignores what the data says (low confidence in any link…even from the IPCC SREX) and actively seeks out someone, anyone, who will say there is a link and gives him a bull horn.  It is so irresponsible. What are the chances this latest effort of policy through “science” is going to backfire?The facts simply don’t matter anymore.  

  • Tom Scharf

    Formatted…

    Never let a crisis go to waste.

    What baffles me is why there is even an effort to tie making the infrastructure more sound to the likes of climate change.  It takes an issue that has more or less bipartisan support and makes it an unnecessarily toxic polarized debate.  Is this smart?

    I guess one can imagine that the left is throwing spears to suggest this would have never happened if only we would have instituted a large carbon tax 4 years ago?  

    What is more likely to be effective?  Let’s try to get funding to build NYC’s infrastructure up to handle an ocean surge of 3 feet more than it is currently…..or let’s try to form a global coalition to reduce carbon output through a highly inequitable global taxation scheme so that we might theoretically reduce future ocean surges by a a few inches?

    It’s insane policy.  Counterproductive.

    Not to mention that the efforts to tie *** every *** single storm to climate change is almost completely devoid of the facts.  In most cases there isn’t even an upward trend in the long term statistics of the particular extreme weather event. Hurricanes….trend is stationary to downward over the last 40 years.  You have to have this trend before you can even start the really hard work of proving fractional causation.

    Just try to find an article that even examines the data, far and few between.  Have you seen a single hurricane trend graph in any article?  The media ignores what the data says (low confidence in any link…even from the IPCC SREX) and actively seeks out someone, anyone, who will say there is a link and gives him a bull horn.  It is so irresponsible. 

    What are the chances this latest effort of policy through “science” is going to backfire?

    The facts simply don’t matter anymore.  

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Pretty clever of the mayor to point the finger at something that’s not part of his job description and which his city budget cannot be expected to address… Please help me Mr. Fed…

    OTOH, I think all of Holland helps pay for the coastal defense network they have and all of Japan helps pay for the work on Tokyo. I actually think the Feds should play a major role in infrastructure rebuilding.

  • http://www.r343l.com RachaelLudwick

    Glad you and your family are fine.

  • steven mosher

    Keith, read the 2030 plan. The lack of balance between sustainable and resilience should be evident. As you noted earlier sustainability is grounded in resilience. Sadly, the plan for 2030 doesnt reflect this.

    From Joshua’s perspective I suppose this is probably the blame of libertarians or the christian right.. not the team who actually penned the document

  • Joshua

    From Joshua’s perspective I suppose this is probably the blame of
    libertarians or the christian right.. not the team who actually penned
    the document

    The first sign that you are making a flawed argument in response to my arguments, steven, is that you can’t accurately characterize my arguments.

  • steven mosher

    Joshua, go read your own damn comments on rogers site or on Judiths site. You consistently find ways to blame anyone and everyone but the people actually in charge.

    So, I will give you a chance to state your position clearly.

    The plan for 2030 says NOTHING about adaptation.
    who is reponsible for that.

  • Joshua

    steven –

    You misread my comments. The proof is in your confident but  mistaken conclusions about what I would or wouldn’t argue.

    Now that is certainly understandable; we all misread what others say, and certainly my wording can be ambiguous or my arguments not fully worked out. But rather than formulate incorrect conclusions as you so regularly do, I would suggest that you check to confirm your thinking before drawing your conclusions. You will make fewer mistakes. Along those lines, I like this new found habit of yours to check your conclusions with reality. It is a scientific approach and I applaud it.

    The people who write a report are the ones responsible for its content. That is unarguable.

    As for the reasons why they would or wouldn’t say anything about adaptation – likely the reasons are complex. Without knowing more about who wrote the report, their background, the context for the report, etc., I wouldn’t venture a guess. Maybe if you’re interested in knowing the reasons why, you could contact them or do some research. If you find something out, please report back. It would be an interesting topic to discuss.

    Finally – perhaps more on point to the topic as opposed to your obsession with that I do or don’t think —- I know some folks who are on the front lines working to make cities more adaptive and sustainable. They face multiple problems – the issues are very complex. One significant constituency that blocks their efforts are a certain class of “conservatives” – many of whom hold strong libertarian ideological beliefs. Now that doesn’t mean that all “conservatives” or libertarians align with those groups. And it doesn’t mean that I think that all the opposition from those groups is completely without merit.

  • Brian

    Joshua 16 – That’s it? That’ all you got, someone else should do the research, blame it on a certian class of “conservatives”?Outwitted by Mosh; Outsmarted by Roger; Outclassed by Judith.   

  • steven mosher

    You give Joshua an opportunity to state his position clearly and he complains that you have misunderstood his prior confusing comments. That’s rich.

    Here he repeats another anecdote about certain classes of conservatives who have blocked efforts at adaptation. “he knows some folks” Thats a grand piece of evidence. I suspect if Judith or Keith tried to get away with that he would be whining for the evidence, the link, the quote. Joshau knows some folks. Crap I know people who think Joshua is stupid. I guess that proves it.

    So, I’ll ask him again. read the 2030 plan.

    he doesnt know who wrote it. shit

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/html/about/about.shtml
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/html/about/who-we-are.shtml

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/html/about/partners.shtml

    Here Joshua has a real opportunity to tell us what he thinks. You have a plan. That plan says nothing about adaptation and resilience. Joshua, do you hold the plan writers responsible for that or did some folks you know tell you that “conservatives” prevented adaptation from being discussed in the plan?

  • steven mosher

    Let’s be clear about the scientific basis for the argument for adaptation. As Ar4 shows there is no difference in temperature trajectory for the next 30 years regardless of changes in emissions. .6C is baked into the system. That warming is coming, you cant stop it. Second, the argument is being made that we are already seeing changes to our weather that are tied to AGW. Given that, what can we do about the next 30 years? If science wants to prove that it can actually be of benefit to policy makers, I’d suggest they prove their value by focusing on the next 30 years.

    One could see an argument for some sort of balance between adaptation and mitigation. What seems immoral to me is that people would disregard adaptation all together ( see NYCplan 2030 as an example ) This raises the question of how adaptation got such a horrible rap. The science tells us that adaptation is the only thing we can do to ameliorate the effects of AGW over the next 30 years. heck, Nasa Giss sits in NYC, where were they? They know this.

    The conversation has been hi jacked by those who think that the problems of 2300 are more important than the problems of 2012. What’s even worse is that they want to use the suffering of today’s victims to continue promotion of their failed approach.

  • Joshua

    steven –

    You have a point about balance – but when you make statements like this:

    What seems immoral to me is that people would disregard adaptation all together ( see NYCplan 2030 as an example )

    You may just weaken your case. It makes you seem a touch histrionic.  But then again, maybe being histrionic and focusing on what I do and don’t say may get such planners to put their reports in better balance. Can’t rule it out completely, now can I?

  • BBD

    steven

    The conversation has been hi jacked by those who think that the problems of 2300 are more important than the problems of 2012. What’s even worse is that they want to use the suffering of today’s victims to continue promotion of their failed approach

    .

    It is all one. Current emissions trajectories will get us >3C at equilibrium and *lots* more 3 sigma hot summers over the next 3 decades. Lots more drought and failed harvests. Lots more OHC increase too, with concomitant thermal expansion SLR and inevitable ice sheet melt SLR following on etc.

    It is all one. This conversation has been hijacked by noise-makers and distraction artists and charlatans of every stripe, all intent on sowing confusion and discredit.

  • BBD

    Oh yes, and there is this, too:

    If science wants to prove that it can actually be of benefit to policy makers, I’d suggest they prove their value by focusing on the next 30 years.

    Who said that ‘science’ wants to ‘prove’ that it can be of actual benefit to policy makers? Where did this come from?

  • Kuze

    Glad to hear you and yours have made it through the storm unscathed. 

  • Tom Scharf

    Call me cynical….but….it seems a $1 trillion dollars just got spent on shovel ready “infrastructure” projects, and I guess making the NJ / NY coastline more resilient to extreme weather didn’t make the priority list.  It must have been all those deniers in the NJ/NY red states that believe climate change is a hoax, and not the “greatest challenge of our time” that prevented this from happening.  Oh….wait….

  • Howard

    BBD:  The climate catastrophists have been policy whoring for grant money before Hansen gave his sweaty testimony in 1988.  The policy mongering is the entire justification for the relentless “settled consensus” control of peer review.  You are now denying your own blog-persona.  Steven Mosher:  What ended all my respect for Joshua was when he admitted he had to look up the meaning of mmHg in relation to Kim’s comment (you know Kim, the idiot heiku===hack) about the Sandy storm surge.  That level of ignorance is stunning and reveals why Joshua is all about word-play and debating debate style.  A real and true sophisticate, debating with Joshua is endless Whack-a-Mole because he is not constrained by science, logic or facts.  Like BBD, he is an example of the ignorant self-absorbed know-it-all lacking any measure of self awareness or practical morality.

  • Tom C

    “Finally ““ perhaps more on point to the topic as opposed to your obsession with that I do or don’t think”.  Steven – Join the club!  Joshua thinks I am obsessed with him also.  Apparently engaging in debate with Joshua is being “obsessed” with him.  Maybe he wants us to cower in awe of his prodigious output and very fancy words (he used “counterfactual” several times on another thread!).

  • BBD

    Howard

    The climate catastrophists have been policy whoring for grant money before Hansen gave his sweaty testimony in 1988. 

    This is perilously close to a conspiracy theory. A more sanguine view is that scientific investigation of a potentially serious problem requires funding.

    Like BBD, he is an example of the ignorant self-absorbed know-it-all lacking any measure of self awareness or practical morality.

    It would be helpful if you would explain (with examples, of course) why you think I lack ‘any measure of practical morality’? Obviously I’m anxious to correct any misunderstanding of this nature.

  • Sashka

    We got power back yesterday night after 5 days. The temps in the house went down to 12C (54F) which was less than comfy but not dramatic. With gas grill on the deck we could cook. Managed to eat most food from the freezer before it went bad. Overall it was like a fancy version of a camping trip. I’m really glad though that they restored power before the freeze forecast for next night.

  • Steve Mennie

    Hey Howard..don’t hold back let it all hang out..you obviously came here not for the debate but for….?

  • steven mosher

    BBD

    “Who said that “˜science’ wants to “˜prove’ that it can be of actual benefit to policy makers? Where did this come from?”

    Ok, if you want to accept that science is of no benefit to policy, I suppose, you will find some here that agree. Do you actually think before you write. However, it seems clear to me that there is a class of us that have argued that science should inform policy, and heck, that scientists get to have opinions about policy. It would seem that if we want to prove the benefit of science to policy that focusing on the next 30 years would be a good option. Focusing on 2300 has been a bust.

  • Steve Mennie

    And just for added excitement..is it just me or is anyone else tired of reading comments twice..once unformatted and once formatted. Speaking for myself, I have no problem reading unformatted comments. Even when they’re long-winded and not really worth the effort.

  • steven mosher

    BBD
    “It is all one. Current emissions trajectories will get us >3C at equilibrium and *lots* more 3 sigma hot summers over the next 3 decades. Lots more drought and failed harvests. Lots more OHC increase too, with concomitant thermal expansion SLR and inevitable ice sheet melt SLR following on etc.”

    really. now tell me what agenda hi jacked the 2030 plan. Its only 200 pages I suggest you read it. I see no substantial portion of that plan driven by the science that tell us the next 30 years will see a warming of .6C. I see nothing in that plan to address the adaptations required by that rise in temperature. Nothing. That lacuna needs an answer. You won’t find it in slamming stupid skeptics.
    I see anti fracking nonsense in that plan, so how pray tell does skeptic nonsense prevent talk about adaptation and allow anti fracking nonsense?

  • steven mosher

    Joshua
    “You may just weaken your case. It makes you seem a touch histrionic.”

    Weird. Perhaps you are unaware of the commentaries where my position on adaptation has been called evil.
    As you are well aware the discount rate is a moral question. People, like me, who heavily discount the future benefits are routinely called immoral. I find it amusing that when present dangers and present harms are hung around the necks of those has the choice and power to take a balanced approached that moral language is viewed as histronic.

    that is all.

  • Howard

    Steve Minnie:  debate?  If you think this or 99% of other blog posts passes for debate, then I’m afraid you are lost down the rabbit hole and living on the Planet Claire.  When human nature is thought to be a conspiracy theory, you know the person at the other keyboard is shooting blanks.

  • Howard

    BBD:  Practical morality is exactly what is missing from PlanNYC2030.  It’s full of green fluff and buzzwords, but missing the practical measures required to make the City a hard target for natural disaster.  Another example are fundo-Christians who oppose civil rights: they are theoretically moral, but not in practice.  Get it?  Actions>Words

  • BBD

    steven

    Ok, if you want to accept that science is of no benefit to policy, I suppose, you will find some here that agree.

    I did not say that science is of no benefit to policy. You are being naughty.

    You, however, insinuated that ‘science’ has an agenda here:

    If science wants to prove that it can actually be of benefit to policy makers, I’d suggest they prove their value by focusing on the next 30 years.

    There are lots of papers investigating short-term climate change. What exactly do you argue is missing? Scientists are not policy-makers, so we cannot blame scientists for policy decisions such as the 2030 NYC plan. It would be illogical.

    However, it seems clear to me that there is a class of us that have argued that science should inform policy, and heck, that scientists get to have opinions about policy.

    Obviously. But where are you going here? Is there a bat-squeak of noble cause corruption? Or perhaps I should say a dog-whistle? ;-)

    It would seem that if we want to prove the benefit of science to policy that focusing on the next 30 years would be a good option.

    Again, who says that ‘science’ isn’t investigating potential climate change impacts over the next 30 years?

    Focusing on 2300 has been a bust.

    I hadn’t realised WG1 was focussed on 2300. Nor indeed all the other stuff one comes across these days. Dai (2012) and Hansen, Sato & Ruedy (2012) stick in the mind.

  • BBD

    Howard @ 35

    Where did I endorse the NYC 2030 plan on this or any thread or blog? Where on this or any thread do I demonstrate ‘a lack of any measure of practical morality‘.

    I have asked for examples to help clear up the misunderstanding. What are you talking about?

  • Howard

    Sandy was not all that big of a disaster like a tsunami or earthquake.  The biggest problem is a lack of readiness and stoicism on the part of many citizens.  The lack of urban resilience to disasters is one unquantified externality of the go-green movement to end sprawl.  BTW, glad to hear everyone is OK.  Here in the mountains, we lose power all the time (twice last week), so I know how inconvenient it can be.  Fortunately, we can take advantage of generators without risk of CO poisoning. 

  • Howard

    BBD: sorry, I mis-read your request as one for a general definition.  As a global warming fetishist and pedantic wordsmith, you are being practically immoral by supporting a diversion of our limited resources away from problems that are impacting human health and the environment now.  Whether or not you endorse PLANYC2030 is irrelevant.  That document represents everything wrong with popular emotional environmentalism (another conspiracy?) that your online persona portrays.  I don’t see any meaningful difference between *you people* and christian fundamentalist tea-bagging deniers. 

  • harrywr2

    #36 BBD

    I hadn’t realised WG1 was focussed on 2300.

    So what is the point of endless ‘Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity’ discussions you endlessly argue about? IPCC Best Estimate of 3X.For 2030 the only discussion that matters is Transient Climate Sensitivity.

  • BBD

    Howard @ 39

    Where do I support a diversion of limited resources *away* from problems that are impacting human health and the environment now? Where did I do that?

    I don’t see any meaningful difference between *you people* and christian fundamentalist tea-bagging deniers.

    What is ‘you people’? You have declared that I ‘lack any measure of practical morality’ but not shown why. Now I am one of ‘you people’ as well?

    It’s hard to keep up.

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    The equilibrium sensitivity is primarily a science question, not primarily a policy question. But if all you care about it the policy-relevant parts of the science, it’s pretty hard to understand the transients better than you understand the steady state. The sensitivity is an important factor in constraining the transients.

    Do you want us to do the science or not?

    That said, I for one do not want to live in a society that is willfully negligent of future generations. I suspect most people do not understand the extent to which we are already negligent, but at least it has the ethical mitigation that it isn’t deliberate on the part of most people. I’m astonished when people frankly say that it doesn’t concern them. I don’t think it would sell to the general public, though I guess that dominionist fundamentalists might buy into it since for them the end is coming regardless.

  • Tom Scharf

    Tobis says:

    That said, I for one do not want to live in a society that is willfully negligent of future generations. I suspect most people do not understand the extent to which we are already negligent, but at least it has the ethical mitigation that it isn’t deliberate on the part of most people. I’m astonished when people frankly say that it doesn’t concern them. I don’t think it would sell to the general public, though I guess that dominionist fundamentalists might buy into it since for them the end is coming regardless.

    Just wondering what your position on the national debt is?

  • Joshua

    steven –

    Please look again at what I called histrionic. My reference was specific. I don’t think talking about adaptation is evil. I think that the discussion of balancing adaptation and mitigation is a very worthwhile discussion. I agree that in balance, the document you referenced should probably be more focused on adaptation. I would be interested to see how the authors of that document might reevaluate their policy proposals as the result of Sandy. I like to hope that Sandy will promote a more open discussion from both sides of the adaptation vs. mitigation divide. Unfortunately, given all the histrionics I’ve seen post-Sandy, I’d outlook is not so good.

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    #43 If I believed growth were sustainable in a given country, I would not see any reason to worry about deficit spending by the public sector. 

    amazon.com ran huge deficits for years before it turned a profit. It turned out this was a good idea for them. Countries can work the same way.

    However, I do not believe long term growth is sustainable in the advanced countries. 

    As a consequence, to the extent I believe in the present economic order at all, I think sustained deficit spending is ill-advised in developed countries because it tends to weaken the deficit-spending country vis-a-vis the others. 

    Is it unethical? I don’t see why it would be, since it seems roughly speaking like this is a zero-sum game globally. 

    What would be the negative consequence if all countries ran proportionally identical deficits?

  • Tom Scharf

    #45.  The infinite growth plan does seem kind of like a Ponzi scheme.  It’s probably not going to end well. Since the US can print money, it always has the option to inflate its way out of a debt problem.  We probably can’t count on as much further investment after we do that.

    There is something to be said for using cheap sources of “other people’s money” to invest in your own infrastructure.  That’s what Amazon and other companies do.  There is a fundamental question of whether that is what the US government is doing with its borrowed money.  Is it wisely investing the borrowed money for its future long term benefit as Amazon does?  I don’t think so.  

    There is a legitimate problem of actually having to pay back those US treasury bonds to China.  It is real taxpayer money and it eats an increasingly large portion of the US budget every year.  The EU/Greece is a fine example of how quickly the problem escalates when it hits a “tipping point” (groan).  You hit a “death spiral” (groan) of escalating debts and accelerating interest rates.

  • andrew adams

    Steven Mosher,
    Here are the key points from the section of the 2030 plan dealing with climate change.

    Reduce and track greenhouse gas emissions1 Release an annual inventory of greenhouse gas emissions2 Assess opportunities to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050Assess vulnerabilities and risks from climate change3 Regularly assess climate change projections4 Partner with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to update Flood Insurance Rate Maps5 Develop tools to measure the city’s current and future climate exposureIncrease the resilience of the city’s built and natural environments6 Update regulations to increase the resilience of buildings7 Work with the insurance industry to develop strategies to encourage the use of flood protections in buildings8 Protect New York City’s critical infrastructure9 Identify and evaluate citywide coastal protective measuresProtect public health from the effects of climate change10 Mitigate the urban heat island effect11 Enhance our understanding of the impacts of climate change on public healthIncrease the city’s preparedness for extreme climate events12 Integrate climate change projections into emergency management and preparednessCreate resilient communities though public information and outreach13 Work with communities to increase their climate resilience 

    I’m not sure how you can say that adaptation has not been considered. At the very least 6 to 9, 12 and 13 are directly concerned with adaptation/resilience and some of the others are also relevant to that issue.

  • andrew adams

    I would add though that I do agree with you in principle that mitigation strategies, although necessary, will not be sufficient in themselves as we have already committed ourselves to a certain amount of warming and we are going to have to adapt to that. I don’t think this is a particularly controversial view.

  • Joshua

    (#47) AA –

    There is actually more than just that. Look at the Comprehensive Waterfront Plan and the Waterfront Action Agenda – which speak specifically about the goal of increasing reliance to flooding and storm surges. 

    Given what happened with Sandy, and what was known about the existing dangers from flooding/sea surges, the prioritization/balance  of addressing those problems does seem misaligned. But they are there. Which is why I described the following as histrionic:

    What seems immoral to me is that people would disregard adaptation all together ( see NYCplan 2030 as an example )

  • Joshua

    The timing of Keith’s previous post about resilience and sustainability – just prior to Sandy – is certainly an interesting coincidence.

    Thinking a bit more about Mosher’s histrionics….

    Surely, it isn’t hard to find environmentalists who are on the ground doing work that either directly perhaps somewhat indirectly addresses resilience and sustainability, or addresses differential impact of climate change or other environmental issues (that overlap with the concepts of sustainability and resilience) in under-represented communities. Also, consider urban farmers who would consider themselves to be environmentalists, who promote organic farming and at the same time focus on improving access to healthy food and educating the public about healthy diet – in particular among inner city youth.

    This is why I think that fear-mongering about fear-mongering, and focusing more or less exclusively on the excesses of environmentalists can become counterproductive. Not to say there aren’t important questions such as: how have the efforts of some environmentalists been counterproductive, has a focus on mitigation negatively impacted a focus on adaptation, how are concerns about GMOs overblown, etc. But let’s be careful not to throw people doing good work under the fear-mongering about fear-mongering bus.

  • BBD

    harrywr2

    So what is the point of endless “˜Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity’ discussions you endlessly argue about? IPCC Best Estimate of 3X.For 2030 the only discussion that matters is Transient Climate Sensitivity.

    The point is to rebut nonsense claims by ‘lukewarmers’ that ECS is *much lower* than about 3C for 2xCO2. The point is further to emphasise that TCR to 2xCO2 (expected later this century) is about 2C which is far too high for complacency and is anyway only a transient - warming will continue until ~3C is reached. Both values will be exceeded if carbon cycle feedbacks are engaged or we go above the somewhat arbitrary 2xCO2 level. Both of which seem more likely than not. 

    What you are doing is crypto-denialism and it fools nobody except possibly you. Why not stop and just face the facts? Why won’t you do that?

  • Tom Scharf

    Joshua says:

    Surely, it isn’t hard to find environmentalists who are on the ground doing work that either directly perhaps somewhat indirectly addresses resilience and sustainability

    Are you kidding me?  Who are the one jumping immediately to lawfare every time a flood control project is proposed?  Who files lawsuits against every infrastructure project ever considered?  They’d rather return Manhattan to marshland then build flood control infrastructure.  

  • Tom Scharf

    BBD,Hate to confuse your rants with actual data, but check out the graph from one of your favorite sites:

    http://www.realclimate.org/images//model11a1.jpg

    Does this look like models are over-estimating, or under estimating ECS?  Feel free to disregard model performance against observational data, we all know this should have no relevance in a science discussion.  Anyone who chooses to bring this up should rightly be shouted down and called names.  This graph absolutely proves that there is no merit to the argument that ECS has been over-estimated.  I don’t even know why we discuss it all.  It’s plain to anyone who can read a graph that things are trending exactly as expected.

  • Steven Sullivan

    Building ‘marshland’ *is* one way to do flood control, even for NYC.  Why discount it as an option?If you’re saying it shouldn’t be an either/or proposition, I agree.  But one reason environmentalists are concerned about gigantic seawall/gate projects is the environmental impact seen in the Netherlands.  And too, one could note (as the NY Times did yesterday) that a wall that blocks surges in one place will increase their height in others.  All good reasons to carefully plan before building.

  • BBD

    @ 53

    Short-term variability, whether internal or externally forced (anthropogenic tropospheric aerosols) has no bearing on the validity of the ECS estimate of ~3C for 2 x CO2. And everybody except ‘sceptics’ knows this.

  • Howard

    BBD:  ECS from doubling WMGHG is unknown and is likely unknowable.  I do admire your confidence.

  • Joshua

    (52) Tom Scharf –

    Yes, it is certainly true that “environmentalists” also, sometimes, oppose adaptation development. No group is monolithic either in support or opposition to adaptation.

    That doesn’t negate the reality that there are “environmentalists” on the ground working to build sustainability and resilience. The kind of binary thinking displayed in your post (as if the one phenomenon disproves, or can’t exist in contrast to, the other) is a perfect example of what I was talking about.

    Who files lawsuits against every infrastructure project ever considered?

    Right. No histrionics there. What possibly could I have been talking about?

  • Howard

    It is nearly impossible to find rational environmentalists doing much of anything constructive.  The first problem is most are not educated (either by schools or by themselves via home study) in science or engineering.  The second problem is that they prefer to be critics promoting analysis paralysis rather than making compromises and accomplishing physical projects in the real world.  The third problem is that as a society, we have beatified environmentalists making their crazy notions a political third rail.  The fourth problem is that environmentalists refuse to acknowledge all of the great accomplishments made by anonymous scientists and engineers working on behalf of corporations to make real, measurable improvements to our environment.  The fifth problem is that environmentalists tend to focus on minor or future low probability issues and ignore the elephant currently in the room filling it up with dung.  Like I said before, for all practical purposes, environmentalists are by and large practically immoral while they wear their halo.  Dr. Kahneman does a great job of outlining the psychology of the weak system two thinkers who are swayed by small numbers, anchor points, halo effects, etc, etc. and thereby become fixated on fat tails.  “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel”.

  • Howard

    Tom Scharf: Joshua is right, not every project.  I’m sure there are lots of examples somewhere in flyover country.  If you would just stop being so certain and properly place key weasel words into your statements, then Joshua will mostly agree with you sometimes maybe on a minor point.  Because, as you know, words are much more important when compared with fixing the crumbling infrastructure built by our parents that you see every day.  Fixing it would be *growth inducing* and would encourage *sprawl*.  It’s much more important to reuse grocery bags and recycle things creating an increased environmental impact.  Then, we can all appear to care.

  • Joshua

    Geebus –

    I have to wonder how we’ve survived being such victims of those all powerful and mean environmentalists?

    About 1/2 mile from my house is a rather extensive infrastructure project build to address the problems of storm water runoff – which are a big problem here in Philly due to the age of the existing infrastructure.

    Absolutely instrumental in the success of that effort was the boots on the ground work and lobbying by environmental groups, which were concerned not only with the damage to the adjacent parkland, but also to the dangers the run off presented to the quality of drinking water for the areas residents.

    link= phillywatersheds.org/what_were_doing/green_infrastructure/tools/stormwater_wetland

    link= csc.temple.edu/t-vssi/BMPSurvey/saylor_grove.htm

    link= centerinthepark.org/prog-sec.html

    Here – in case anyone lives in the Philly area and would like to do some volunteer work. Most of the work FOW does is within a mile or two of my house. Stop by for a beer if you decide to get involved:

    link = fow.org/conservation-restoration/sustainable-trails-initiative

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    People who generally cannot count or will not count almost universally believe that counting is not important. They actually tend to hold ‘counter’s, like engineers and technicians, in contempt, believing that quantitative assessments are somehow limiting.

    This happens on both sides of all the differing fences that separate people–it’s not just environmentalists who suffer from this. But in any argument, when you see people laughing at engineers, scientists or statisticians, don’t bet on those people being correct about much of anything.

    Heinlein had an old rule of thumb as a bullshit detector–one of his characters said he would ask someone’s opinion on astrology, so he could ignore those who believed. Today we could perhaps update that with something like homeopathy, or a reliance on organic farming as a solution to our food-related problems.

  • BBD

    @ 56

    You need to stop *denying* the actual state of scientific knowledge because your biases are telling you to. Actually, forget that. Whatever errors your biases lead you into, the scientific consensus (including the most probable values for ECS and TCR) will still be there in the morning. 

    Now, before we go any further, where are those examples of me demonstrating a complete lack of practical morality? 

    Are you going to produce evidence backing up this unpleasant slur, or are you going to retract it?

  • Tom Scharf

    Everyone with half a brain (and I am including you in this list for now Joshua) knows that every infrastructure project comes with an “environmental tax”.  This is paid out in sums of time and money.  Environmental assessments must be made before a project can even begin (environmental bureaucratic welfare), and then on any major project it is a near certainty that there will be environmental lawsuits to deal with.  This costs real money and real time to dispense with.  NIMBY’isms fundamental tool to stop a project is environmental lawfare.  My guess is that most times the people filing the lawsuits could give a hoot about the actual environment, but are simply using the best available tool to stop development.  This is why is takes so long to ever get a shovel ready project started.  This represents * friction * to progress.  And that is exactly its intention.  I’m not so obtuse to understand that removing all environmental hurdles would be a bad thing, but at some point it becomes overly burdensome with escalating costs, escalating delays, and entrenched rent seeking interest groups.  That is where we are today.  Are we really much better off than in the 1950’s when building interstates was 10x easier than today?   Does most of this friction really produce a useful output to society?  The effort by some here to paint the environmental movement as champions of infrastructure development is laughable.

  • Howard

    BBD:  The state of AGW and CAGW scientific knowledge is very uncertain.  The state of current environmental impacts are very very certain.  Even without AGW/CAGW hysteria, we waste billions on analysis paralysis.  You are one of many vociferous ninny’s representing a doomsday cult of environmental ridiculousness.  No, I won’t take it back:  We are not in the school yard and your Mommy is not going to rescue you from me or any other aggressive-agressive jerk.

  • Howard

    Joshua:  reliance on small numbers and WYSIATI (what you see is all there is).  Thanks for the tip to read Kahneman… was that a unconscious cry for help?

  • Steve Mennie

    Seriously Howard…I’m assuming you’ve misplaced your medication.

  • Howard

    On the contrary Steve Mennie, I am perfectly titrated. 

  • Howard

    On the contrary Steve Mennie, I am perfectly titrated. 

  • BBD

    @ 64

    I don’t need rescuing from you, Howard. All we need to do here is establish who is making false, insulting statements and (much worse) refusing to retract them when caught out lying. We have done that.

    Now we can evaluate everything else you say in the light of your manifest bad faith. Hysterical, ‘aggressive-aggressive’ rubbish like your # 64 can safely be dismissed, along with everything else you say.

  • kdk33

    shale gas

  • Howard

    the vapors

  • Nullius in Verba
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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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