Climate Adaptation

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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Adapting Vermont’s Transportation Infrastructure to the Future Impacts of Climate Change

Nice white paper from Vermont Transportation. They’re taking a “no-regrets” approach to climate adaptation - very rare in the US.

An overview of climate related adaptation and resilience oriented efforts underway at the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans).

In recognition of the potentially negative consequences of climate change to well-being of Vermont, VTrans is in process of incorporating adaptive management, policies, and plans into every level of planning, design, operations, and maintenance.

Experts believe that global climate change will fuel increasingly frequent and severe weather events resulting in more frequent flooding in the Northeastern U.S.

Existing flood vulnerability of the transportation system will be exacerbated by the effects of climate change increasing the risk of costly delays, detours, and premature infrastructure replacement. Recent flooding events following tropical storm Irene revealed the need for preemptive actions and planning to minimize the costs of similar events in the future.

Many of the lessons learned during the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene are applicable to this effort. Enhancement of emergency procedures and systems, employee training, public outreach, and rapid hydraulic assessment tools are examples of some of the positive adaptive outcomes. Going forward, the Agency should expand programs and projects focused on gathering and monitoring data, increasing adaptive capacity, and incorporating risk-management into the decision-making process.

The recommendations made in this report have ‘no-regrets’ in that they will increase the effectiveness of long-term decision making under any future climate scenario.

Rick Albertson has lived in Bloomsburg, Pa., his entire life. Of the six floods he has been through, including Agnes in 1972, he said last week’s was the worst.

He remained in his home as raging flood waters closed in and rose more than half a foot deep through the first floor.

“We were soaking our feet while we were eating supper in 7 inches of water,” Albertson said, laughing in spite of the situation.

See the story and video…

THE SILT ROAD   Nearly a week after Hurricane Irene drenched New England with rainfall in late August 2011, the Connecticut River was spewing muddy sediment into Long Island Sound and wrecking the region’s farmland just before harvest. The Thematic Mapper on the Landsat 5 satellite acquired this true-color satellite image on September 2, 2011.

With its headwaters near the Canadian border, the Connecticut River drains nearly 11,000 square miles (28,500 square kilometers) and receives water from at least 33 tributaries in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. The 410-mile river—New England’s longest—enters Long Island Sound near Old Lyme, Connecticut, and is estimated to provide 70 percent of the fresh water entering the Sound.

(Photo via NASA Earth Observatory)

(via inothernews)

Route 4 between Killington, VT and Mendon, VT. More aerial photos of Irene damage in Vermont, here.

Post Hurricane Irene feast: Hungry hummingbirds in Virginia.

Straight shooter Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont):

“I’ve always believed that this the United States of America, U-N-I-T-E-D, that we are one nation. That when there’s a problem in the West Coast or in Louisiana,the people of Vermont, the people of New Jersey are there for them. When there’s a problem in the East Coast the people in the Midwest who have suffered their tornadoes, they’re there for us. This is what makes us a nation. And the idea that anybody in the United States Congress could say, ‘I don’t care. We’re going to allow communities to be devastated’… We need, along with other states, help from the rest of the country that our part of the country has provided in the past. That’s what makes us a nation... I sometimes think, Ed, that some of these right-wing Republicans want this nation to be a second-rate country. Maybe they’re looking to China for the future, but some of us are not. We believe America’s great. We believe that we can grow and we have got to invest to do that. At the very least, at the very least, we have got to make sure that everyone in this country knows that when disaster comes help will be there for them.

(via joshsternberg)

MSNBC covers the destruction in Vermont.

Irene by the numbers:

  • Death toll up to 41
  • 10th billion dollar natural disaster in one year (2011) - a record
  • Worst flooding since 1927 
  • 2 million evacuated
  • 9,000 flights cancelled 
  • 4.5 million homes and business lost power
  • Costs: $6 to $40 billion
  • Obama: Amazing leader
  • Eric Cantor: Big jerk face

“ This is nowhere near Katrina’s death toll of over 1800 souls, but the damage to scores of towns, businesses, houses, and basic civic armature is going to be very impressive as the news filters in later this week and the disaster is still very much ongoing Monday, even with the sun shining bright. Towns all over Vermont and New Hampshire are still drowning. The Hudson River is still on the rise. The Mohawk River is at a 500-year flood stage and is about to wipe the old city center of Schenectady, New York, off the map. Bridges, dams, and roads are gone over a region at least as big as the Gulf Coast splatter-trail of Katrina.

That story is still developing. A lot of people will not be able to get around for a long, long time, especially in Vermont and New Hampshire, where the rugged terrain only allows for a few major roads that go anywhere. Even the bridges that were not entirely washed away may have to be inspected before people are allowed to drive over them, and some of these bridges may be structurally shot even if they look superficially okay. There are a lot of them. If you live in a flat state, you may have no idea.

The next story is going to be the realization that there’s no money to put it all back together the way it was. The states don’t have the money. The federal government is obviously broke, and an awful lot of the individual households and businesses will turn out to not have any insurance coverage for this kind of disaster where it was water, not wind, that destroyed the property. I don’t know what the score is insurance-wise along the mid-Atlantic beachfront towns - but remember, insurance companies were among the biggest dupes of the Big Bank mortgage-backed securities racket, and when the new claims are toted up they may find themselves in a bail-out line.

This is a warning to America that the converging catastrophes of climate change, energy scarcities, and failures of capital formation add up to more than the sum of their parts in their power to drive a complex society into a ditch - no matter what a moron like Rick Perry might say. But, of course, political ramifications will follow. There will be a lot of pissed-off people in the Northeast USA. Maybe they’ll even start giving the grievance-bloated folk of Dixieland some competition in the politics of the bitter harvest. Oddly, the Siamese twin states of Vermont and New Hampshire are political polar opposites. Vermont, the land of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and other squooshy culture tropes from the attic of Hippiedom, is about as Left-progressive as it gets. New Hampshire’s license plate says, “Live Free or Die,” and that same draconian mood defines the state’s politics: hard Right. It’s like a few counties of Georgia shook loose and drifted north somehow. My guess is that the political rage will be about equal on both fronts, as folks are left stranded, or homeless, or without a going business they thought they had only a day or so ago. And my further guess is that their mood will afford some insight into the extreme impotence, incompetence, and mendacity of both major political parties. As I’ve said before in this space, think of these times as not unlike the convulsive 1850s, preceding the worst crisis of our history. ”

—     James Howard Kunsler, Katrina in Vermont

(via underpaidgenius)

Over the weekend hurricane Irene wrecked havoc across the east coast of the United States and Canada. Below, a graphical look at the damage and death. Click the image for a larger version or click here for the PDF.

Postcards from a Vermont on the Edge [Photos and Video]

Above: Road closures throughout Vermont

"Unfortunately, Vermont got hit harder than our worst fears. As of this writing, there have been two deaths officially reported in the state, there are two men missing in Rutland (the "big" city nearest my home), and according to Vermont Public Radio, “nearly every major highway in the state has been damaged.”

Also:

The numbers never really tell the story, though, so here are some of the photos and videos I can’t stop looking at as I try to comprehend the damage my state has suffered from Irene.”

Source: onEarth via Ben Jervey

Irene’s Floods Rage as U.S. Cuts Stream Tracking Program

Congress is steadily trimming the budget for maintaining stream-flow gauges and other monitoring efforts aimed at forecasting flood threats

Floods kill people, and yet GOP are winning cuts to programs that help people and businesses. The GOP are the grand chess masters of politics, as demonstrated by their killer strategies that cut science, education, disaster management, and the arts. They know that the left doesn’t organize well. They especially know that environmentalists - on the whole - are guaranteed to idly stare aghast - like so many deer in headlights.

So look, it’s time to stop saying “I’m appalled!” with every anti-environmental headline. This doesn’t do anything, and your opponent knows this. I argue that a better response to anti-enviro headlines is to write your representative. It’s easy as a tumblr post. It takes 30 seconds. And I assure you it works

Elderly couple rescued by brave emergency crew in Mount Holly, Vermont. Click for story and video.

inothernews:

Part of Highway US 4 in Rutland, Vermont is destroyed by torrential rains brought by Tropical Storm Irene.  President Obama declared a state of emergency for Vermont, where all government offices and schools were closed Monday; up to 50,000 residents statewide are without power and several cities, including Montpelier, Waterbury and Brattleboro experienced flooding.  (Photo: Steve Costello / Central Vermont Power Service via the Burlington Free Press)