Thousands of homeowners in flood-prone parts of the country are going to be in for a rude awakening. On Oct. 1, new changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which offers government-subsidized policies for households and businesses threatened by floods, mean that businesses in flood zones and homes that have been severely or repeatedly flooded will start going up 25% a year until rates reach levels that would reflect the actual risk from flooding. (Higher rates for second or vacation homes went into effect at the start of 2013.)
That means that property owners in flood-prone areas who might have once been paying around $500 a year—rates that were well below what the market would charge, given the threat from flooding—will go up by thousands of dollars over the next decade.
That change, unsurprisingly, has affected homeowners from the seaside coast of New Jersey to the Gulf beaches of Louisiana very unhappy. On September 28, dozens of Long Islanders—many of them victims of Superstorm Sandy—converged at the Babylon Town Hall for a “Stop FEMA” rally, one of several held around the country. (FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, runs the NFIP.)
Congressional representatives from states like Louisiana and Florida that are likely to be hard hit by the NFIP changes are raising hell, calling for FEMA to delay the implementation of the new rules. FEMA says its hands are tied—Craig Fugate, the agency’s director, told a Senate subcommittee at the end of the September that the Biggert-Waters Act, the law passed last summer to adjust NFIP rates, gives him no leeway to postpone the changes to NFIP just because they may be unaffordable to some property owners.Read more: Science.Time.com
Posts tagged economics.
Students Win Seed Money To Make Flour From Insects
Mohammed Ashour has a big order to fill: By March 2014, he has to deliver 10 tons of grasshoppers to customers in Mexico.
He and four other MBA students at McGill University in Montreal have a plan to farm insects in poor countries and turn them into flour that can be used in everything from bread to corn tortillas. And on Monday, former President Bill Clinton handed them $1 million to make it happen.
The team, which includes Ashour, Shobhita Soor, Jesse Pearlstein, Zev Thompson and Gabe Mott, received the for social entrepreneurs at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting. The seed funding will go to their project, , which aims to make insect-based food products available year-round to people living in some of the world’s poorest slums.
The project is launching at a time when a lot of people are looking to spice up the idea of eating super-nutritious insects, which some are calling “mini-livestock.” From the , insects are inspiring restauranteurs, entrepreneurs (check out the ) and researchers. As The Salt in May, the United Nations agricultural arm released a supporting iron- and protein-rich insects for dinner because of their nutritional, environmental and economic appeal.
hello-linny asked: Hi! Denser city living now seems to be the best solution for the billions of people added to the earth. But many prefer to live in big houses in the suburbs (than in tiny apartments), and would rather drive long distances to their workplace (than experience overcrowding on public transports). What do you propose would be the best way in encouraging both denser city living whilst having good neighbourhood satisfaction? Thanks
This is incredibly complicated and I’m not really going to answer your question directly. There are a variety of design and urban planning techniques to help cities be more dense while being more livable. Form Based Code, Smart Growth, sustainable planning, etc., are very common, easily replicable, and very flexible solutions to this.
The problem with these solutions are that people are not staying in one place for very long. This trend of people moving to cities will slow a bit, and cities can adapt and absorb the influxes.
The real question, to my mind, is how to make them stay? These new people rarely participate in local government. They rarely stay or invest in a place, typically using the city as a catalyst to elevate their socioeconomic standing.
This is fine, but cities will suffer in the next demographic swing. As it stands, most cities are planning for the next 10-20 years using a stable or growing tax base. This is just not true. Tax receipts will not continue to grow, they’ll be more volatile, creating deeper dips and higher spikes in local economies.
Tax receipts, which are used for things like water, health, education, environment, security, business development, and transportation, will (probably) implode.
Detroit (or the entire country of Japan) is a good example of this. Both based their planning goals on false demographics.
So, while most cities are scrambling to provide design solutions, they really should be pivoting towards investing in the people. How? Diversity in education systems. Having a strong public school system is great, creating a system that includes charter, specialty, religious schooling options is even better. Assisting people with their health care options should include increased focus on mental health. Study after study has shown that when people improve their mental health, their physical health and relationships with communities greatly improves. Investment in parks, environmental quality, and conservation areas consistently (in nearly every country) show economic and health resiliency.
Here’s a sweet little report discussing some of these solutions: Demographic change in European cities: City practices for active inclusion.
There are tons of other things, like creating a Happiness Index, which measures how happy people are in the current situations. If there are dips and swings to this index, government can nudge the bar in one direction or the other.
Thanks for the interesting question!
Interesting headline, but the devil is in the details. The study is 1) from a graduate student using extremely limited data gleaned by observing the behavior of a few farmers and 2) focused on a temporary, experimental economic incentive project in two remote villages in Cameroon, Africa.
From the perspective of adaptation theory, it is important for researchers to find examples of maladaptation. Maladaptation increases risks or creates new problems, rather than resolving them. For example, relocating villagers with the intention of protecting them from floods has several ill effects on their education, culture, and may even violate their human rights (for more, see here).
So, more examples of maladaptation are very much needed. However, the findings need to be compared to other behaviors, such as incentives inherent in economic development projects, education attainment, empowerment of women, etc.
The below shows an example of a handful of villagers and farmers given obscure economic incentives to change their behavior - change farming techniques, change tree harvesting techniques, and increase educational attainment, all previously passed down from generation to generation. The author concludes that the villagers have become more vulnerable to risks from climate change. But, with such abrupt disruption, distorted incentives, and short time span - all of which are correctable - I’d say this one is more than a bit premature.
MITIGATION MAY CREATE MORE VULNERABILITY
The research focused on two villages in the rainforests of southern Cameroon that are involved in payments for ecosystem services (PES) pilot projects.
Through PES, communities receive financial or in-kind payment for preserving “services” such as water, carbon storage and biodiversity. The pilot projects in Cameroon are designed to maintain carbon stocks and biodiversity through such activities as protecting and regenerating forests, and sustainable agriculture.
In addition, the projects include components to strengthen local health and education as they relate to infrastructure.
Financed through the Congo Basin Forest Fund, the projects, which relate only to infrastructure, are implemented by the Centre for Environment and Development with support from Bioclimate, Econometrica and Rainforest Foundation UK.
The pilot projects were focused on reducing deforestation and conserving biodiversity, but did not necessarily consider how to help communities adapt to a changing climate, researchers found.
In fact, the study found that conditions imposed by the PES projects had major implications for livelihood activities in the village of Nkolenyeng, predominately a farming community.
For example, in light of the projects’ ban on rotational slash-and-burn crop farming – also known as swidden – the study found some older farmers are opting to clear less land rather than take up more labor-intensive clearing methods.
These decisions may ultimately affect food security and income in the village, creating more vulnerability, the study suggested.
“At my age, I have little energy to prepare my fields without burning, so for now with the project conditions I’ll prepare only a small portion,” said one 62-year-old farmer during a focus group.
Hang up the harpoons, Japan
Four good reasons it should stop ‘scientific’ whaling. Here.
The world’s tallest slum.
Welcome to the world’s tallest slum: poverty-ridden Venezuela’s Tower of David. Squatters took over this very unfinished 45-story skyscraper in the early 1990s, and they’ve been there ever since. The tower was originally intended to be a symbol of Caracas’ bright financial future, complete with a rooftop helipad, but construction stopped because of a banking crisis and the sudden death of the tower’s namesake, David Brillembourg.
Today, as the government is grappling with a citywide housing shortage, the tower is a stark monument to what could have been in the country’s crime-plagued capital. The tower is dogged by accusations of being a hotbed of crime, drugs and corruption. But to residents, many of whom have spent their entire lives there, it’s just home.
Watch as Vocativ climbs the tower and gains the rare in-depth access to residents’ daily lives inside this unique and sinister establishment.
Few cameras have been allowed into the depths of the tower. It is an experience not to be missed.
We answered some frequently asked questions about our Tower of David video here: http://voc.tv/15I8iPE
Video (couldn’t embed). Economist says impacts will cost $60 Trillion USD.
Pearl City, Kuwait in 2002 and 2009.
Here’s the wiki.
Special issue on the best new resources for adaptation, resilience and sustainability
June Newsletter Summary:
- Mainstreaming climate change resilience into development
- Integrating Disaster Risk Management into Climate Change Adaptation
- Climate Proof Development in Africa
- Agriculture and Climate Change. Learning from Experience and Early Interventions
- The Demography of Adaptation to Climate Change
- Community Based Adaptation
- Climate Smart Agriculture
- Drought resistant crops in semi-arid lands
- Conservation agriculture and smallholder farming in Africa
- Women, unity, water: Adapting to climate change in improving livelihoods
- Community dams aim to build water security in arid lands
Two forces (markets and applied sustainability theory) are at odds with each other. Especially when it comes to human rights and equality. The Green Climate Fund is, in a sense, a bank that works in very poor, and developing countries. These countries are growing, fast. And organizations like the UN are helping these countries build better cities and safer communities, with the goal for everyone to become healthier and well educated. There are controversies with this type of development. Often times, tens of thousands of people are displaced from their homes, species and ecosystems are destroyed, and only a handful of companies benefit.
The Green Climate Fund helps developing countries to be more environmentally conscious, more aware of impacts of fast growth. There are many complicated elements to financing growth, and one is gender. Here is a discussion on how the Green Climate Fund can improve the banking rules for women in developing countries.
Climate change is not gender-neutral. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has highlighted the variations in the extent to which people are affected by climate change, and are able to adapt, depending on a number of factors, including gender. In most countries there are differences in the economic activities, access to resources and decision-making power of men and women. These gender differences affect the ways people are impacted by, and respond to, climate change.
Recognizing the importance of taking these gender differences into account, the Governing Instrument for the Green Climate Fund (GCF)specifically calls for taking a “gender-sensitive approach,” making this the first climate fund to mandate the integration of gender-based perspectives from the outset of its operations.
Climate financing approaches will be more effective and provide broader benefits if they address rather than reinforce gender inequalities that increase the vulnerability of women to climate change and adversely affect their ability to contribute to mitigation and adaptation efforts.
Women still face unequal access to political power, economic resources, legal rights, land ownership, bank credit, and technical training.
The GCF can promote gender equality by establishing structures and operating procedures that are careful to include women as well as men in decision-making roles, respond to the particular needs of women for climate-related financing, and enable women’s enterprises to benefit from new low-carbon technologies and economic opportunities.
The paper advocates for the explicit inclusion of gender considerations in the GCF Board’s work plan. The GCF is expected to support a fundamental paradigm shift in addressing climate change by establishing new best practices, including in its approach to gender.
On the one hand, Obamacare just got a boost. On the other, the U.S. tax base is about to implode (bad news for growth-economists). There are so many implications from this, like the suburbs will empty even further and the need for nursing homes will increase exponentially. There won’t be much new land development, which I suppose is good news for environmentalists.
Living to age 90 is a worthy goal Americans are increasingly meeting. The number of people age 90 and older almost tripled from 720,000 people in 1980 to 1.9 million in 2010, according to a new Census Bureau report. And the 90-plus population is expected to more than quadruple between 2010 and 2050. Here’s a look at what life is like in the United States after age 90.
More women. Between 2006 and 2008, about three-quarters (74 percent) of the 90-and-older population were women. In 2006, life expectancy at age 65 was 19.7 years for women and 17 years for men. Women also experienced more rapid improvements in life expectancy than men between 1929 and 2006. Over the past eight decades, older women have added almost seven years to their life expectancy, or a 54 percent extension, compared with 5.3 years for men, a 45 percent extension. Among the age 90-and-older population, there are just 35 men for every 100 women. After age 95, there is approximately one man for every four women.
Married men and single women. Most women who make it to age 90 (84 percent) are widows. Only 6.3 percent of women in this age group are married. On the other hand, 43 percent of 90-something men are married and about half are widowers. “Women tend to marry older men. Traditionally, there is a four- to five-year age difference,” says Wan He, a Census Bureau demographer and co-author of the report. “When they get to age 90-plus, older men are very difficult to find.”
Living alone. Just over a third (37 percent) of people in their 90s live alone. About the same number of people (37 percent) live in a household with family members or unrelated individuals.
The scale of coral reef destruction in south Florida is enormous. Nearly 50% of the coral reefs have died in the past two decades. And the problem is getting worse.
But why does this matter? The Key’s reefs are among the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, and less coral has a cascading affect up the food chain. This affects the fishing and tourism industries, which (like it or not) makes Florida such a big draw. Coral reefs buffer coastal cities against storm surge, protecting countless real estate and businesses worth tens of billions. And in Florida Keys alone, there are over 33,000 jobs that depend on the reefs.
Check out PBS.org/climate-change. “The world’s ocean are absorbing carbon dioxide at an unprecedented rate and the resulting acidification is transforming marine ecosystems. We look at how ocean acidification is already affecting coral reefs in the Florida Keys.”
Redefining sustainable development
"Climate change and other global environmental threats will increasingly become serious barriers to further human development," says lead author Professor David Griggs from Monash University in Australia. Humans are transforming Earth’s life support system — the atmosphere, oceans, waterways, forests, ice sheets and biodiversity that allow us to thrive and prosper — in ways "likely to undermine development gains", he adds.
The team asserts that the classic model of sustainable development, of three integrated pillars — economic, social and environmental — that has served nations and the UN for over a decade, is flawed and does not reflect reality.
“As the global population increases towards eight billion people sustainable development should be seen as an economy serving society within Earth’s life support system, not as three pillars,” says co-author Dr. Priya Shyamsundar from the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics, Nepal.
The six goals
The new set of goals — thriving lives and livelihoods, food security, water security, clean energy, healthy and productive ecosystems, and governance for sustainable societies — aim to resolve this conflict. The targets beneath each goal include updates and expanded targets under the MDGs, including ending poverty and hunger, combating HIV/aids, and improving maternal and child health.
But also a set of planetary “must haves”: climate stability, reducing biodiversity loss, protection of ecosystem services, a healthy water cycle and oceans, sustainable nitrogen and phosphorus use, clean air and sustainable material use.
Co-author Dr. Mark Stafford Smith, science director of CSIRO’s climate adaptation research programme in Australia says:
Read the rest at Stockholm Resilience Center
Wants to include climate change risks in environmental permits. When you build something, such a house or store, you typically need a permit (or three) from the local or state government. Bigger projects require federal approval, such as an oil pipeline or a rail line. So, the larger the project, the more information the government requires as part of those permits.
In order to get a permit, you need to conduct some studies and write a few reports, typically these include an economic feasibility and an environmental impact statement. For federal permits, these studies are made public. This “public comment period” gives everyone, including other businesses, a chance to voice their opinions on the project.
Now, Obama wants to change the rules. He is proposing that the federal permit process should include risks and impacts from climate change. These climate risks will be part of the environmental impact statement.
Businesses do not like permits - but not for the reasons you’d expect. It’s very expensive to conduct the required economic and environmental studies. Businesses have to hire specialists just for these permits. Often, these studies delay projects, which makes the projects more expensive to build.
The biggest complaint is that rules are inconsistent - they’re difficult to comply with, unclear in their intent, guidelines are always changing, and (worst of all) they’re unevenly enforced. Sometimes a politician will intervene - essentially subverting the law. Political intervention creates an atmosphere of unfairness and favoritism (but, that is discussion for another post).
In the permitting world, lawsuits abound. And lawsuits compound the costs of building and it generally pisses off a lot of people.
So, when you hear complaints that “environmental permits hurts jobs” it’s not that the developer hates the environment, it’s that the rules are a convoluted, expensive mess. It’s also a clever way for politicians to dismantle environmental regulations because, after all, the rules “hurt jobs” - a line that resonates with the voting public.
Thus, from the perspective of business, Obama’s proposal to increase the rules for environmental permits has businesses - and the politicians that they’ve bought - shaking in their boots.
Queue a big political fight on this one.
President Barack Obama is preparing to tell all federal agencies for the first time that they should consider the impact on global warming before approving major projects, from pipelines to highways.
The result could be significant delays for natural gas- export facilities, ports for coal sales to Asia, and even new forest roads, industry lobbyists warn.
“It’s got us very freaked out,” said Ross Eisenberg, vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, a Washington-based group that represents 11,000 companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and Southern Co. (SO) The standards, which constitute guidance for agencies and not new regulations, are set to be issued in the coming weeks, according to lawyers briefed by administration officials.
In taking the step, Obama would be fulfilling a vow to act alone in the face of a Republican-run House of Representatives unwilling to pass measures limiting greenhouse gases. He’d expand the scope of a Nixon-era law that was first intended to force agencies to assess the effect of projects on air, water and soil pollution.
“If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will,” Obama said last month during his State of the Union address. He pledged executive actions “to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”
Via the excellent Bloomberg.com