CLIMATE ADAPTATION

I want to punch climate change in the face. A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.


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Climate change is among the factors Defense Department officials consider in protect national security around the globe, a senior DOD official recently told a Senate panel.

Daniel Y. Chiu, deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy, testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee May 21.

Chiu said while DOD plans for contingencies and unexpected developments to protect the nation’s security, climate change can create sea-level rise, storm surge, shifting climate zones and more severe weather conditions that can affect operations. And while some of those conditions have affected military installations, he said, such changes can also have a negative impact on other DOD concerns.

We are also seeing the potential for decreased capacity of DOD properties to support training, as well as implications for supply chains, equipment, vehicles and weapon systems that the department buys,” he explained.

Even while infrastructures are being adapted to climate change threats, DOD also is conducting a baseline study to determine which infrastructure elements are most vulnerable to extreme weather events and sea-level increases, he said, adding that the study is due for completion late this year.

Climate change effects potentially could alter, limit or constrain environments where troops operate, Chiu said, using sea-level increases as an example of an impact on amphibious operations.

Chiu states the US Dept. of Defense’s infrastructure is underprepared and vulnerable to climate impacts. Calls for more adaptation measures.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
I was wondering if you had any opinions/information on California's Proposition 1, or knew of any good resources about the environmental impacts of of a yes/no vote. I'm trying to make and informed decision before the election. Thanks!
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hi Anon,

I’m embarrassed to say I’m not connected to this issue. Is it reactionary?

Sorry…

Michael

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who is second in command over the US Military (Obama is first) announced Department of Defense Climate Adaptation Roadmap. The plan aims to plan for climate impacts on US military assets and operations, and collaborates with other nations to further adapt. Some highlights:

  • Build natural infrastructure to protect bases
  • Strengthen supply chains vulnerable to climate impacts
  • Prepare forces for changing environmental conditions
  • Assess assets for vulnerabilities

Interesting coverage of the first people to be moved from their homes at a large scale due to climate change.

Some climate adaptation ideas - build canals - for the great city of Boston.

Boston’s solution to sea level rise

A report scheduled to be released Tuesday about preparing Boston for climate change suggests that building canals through the Back Bay neighborhood would help it withstand water levels that could rise as much as 7 feet by 2100. Some roads and public alleys, such as Clarendon Street, could be turned into narrow waterways, the report suggests, allowing the neighborhood to absorb the rising sea with clever engineering projects that double as public amenities.

The canal system was among the more imaginative solutions offered by some of the city’s leading planning, architecture, and engineering firms in a report compiled by the local chapter of the Urban Land Institute.

Other suggestions include raising the Harborwalk, which rings the waterfront, to act as a stronger barrier for nearby buildings, adding breakwaters in the harbor, and creating wetlands that would act as sponges during periods of high water.

The authors said the ideas are intended to show how the region can respond creatively to the dramatic effects of climate change.

Via Boston Globe

Leadership fail.

Leaders failed (and continue to fail) to address well known and documented hurricane and flood risks to New Orleans.

Pretty cool engineering project in New Orleans. The journalist explains how adding sod to the top of levees will increase the capacity of the berms to retain water. (though, I though levees were generally covered in grass, so it’s a bit confusing.) Anyway, this is a good and simple example of an adaptation.

Announced in June, Obama’s $1 Billion resilience and infrastructure grant program is now live. Eligible organizations can only apply (instructions at bottom). Minimum grant award is $1 million, maximum is $500 Million(!). I consult on grant applications, so if you’re a municipality or an eligible organization, contact me to chat.

The entire city of Florence, Italy is the same size as this highway interchange in Atlanta, Georgia. Via

Asker majam Asks:
What are your thoughts on this project? solar-roadways on IndieGoGo site? (no links allowed...) I find it quite inspiring!
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hi Majam,

Nice to hear from you again. I’ve seen the Solar Roadways project on several enviro-sites and it seems the media is eating it up. They even picked up an endorsement from Republican Senator Mike Crappo (R-ID), which I found most surprising:

Keep in mind, Solar Roadways started in 2009 with a $100k grant from the Dept. of Energy. Solar Roadways already had their day in the media spotlight back in 2010. The now-closed blog Infrastructurist panned the idea as "dubious" and "batshit crazy" based on a few thumbnail calculations using basic transportation engineering standards required to build roads. 

Solar roads are and enviro-media darling, that’s for sure. My take is that there might be a few test roads built, but overall the idea is impossible at this point. It would cost tens of trillions of dollars to build at tax-payer expense. Dozens of policies, thousands of laws, and countless transportation and engineering standards would have to be rewritten (and pass congress). All 50 states would have to voluntarily change their transportation regulations. Not to mention the public objections, lobbyists, and litigation that would add decades of delays.

For those inspired by new technologies like solar roads, you have to answer the basic policy questions: What are the procedures to change transportation laws? How would you get congressional support? What does it take to change one rule (never mind hundreds of rules for solar roads) at your state’s DOT? Inspiration often times has to respond to, and outlast, very serious objections…

Best,

Michael

A rare energy post…

How Bill Nye became the Science Guy.

Links to the rest of the cities, here. What’s surprised me most was Oakland, California(!) made the final cut. Also, Bill Clinton and Olosegun Obasanjo were on the panel. Bizarre stuff.