In the last 40 years, 663 disasters linked to climate change in the United States killed 14,223 people. The total cost: an estimated $1.77 trillion, a bit more than Canada's Gross National Product in 2018. Economic losses in Europe resulting from climate-linked extreme weather from 1980 to 2017 were lower, totaling $537 billion. The difference was the cost of tropical storms, which don't affect Europe but accounted for nearly half of the U.S. total costs. The report analyzed data going back to 1980 from several sources, including a database of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that catalogs climate disasters with costs of $1 billion or more and is continually updated. Only disasters with costs of that magnitude were included in the analysis.
Over the past month, the Indian state of Kerala has struggled with the worst floods since 1924. Over three hundred people have been killed and millions of people have been affected in this state of about 35 million people. There are many theories as to why these floods have been so severe, climate change amongst them. But, what is certainly very clear is that in the face of this devastation, Kerala’s society came together to ensure the rescue and relief for those who had seen their worlds be torn asunder, and life ‘rush into the past’.
I spend the afternoon in Shorecrest, a neighborhood a couple of miles north of downtown Miami. To get there I leave the beach behind and drive past Arky’s Live Bait & Tackle, Deal and Discounts II, Rafiul Food Store, Royal Budget Inn, Family Dollar and Goodwill. As I continue north, the buildings all lose their mirrored glass and their extra floors, until most are single story and made from stucco. It isn’t raining when I arrive in Shorecrest, and there isn’t a storm offshore; the day is as clear and as blue as the filigree on a porcelain plate. But the streets are still full of water. I watch as a woman wades ankle deep across Tenth Avenue. She has gathered her long russet-colored skirt in her right hand, and in her left she holds a pair of Jesus sandals. When she reaches the bus stop, she sits and puts her shoes on.
The nation's coasts broke records for tidal flooding over the past year as storms combined with rising seas to inundate downtown areas of Miami, Boston and other major cities, according to a federal report released Wednesday. While some of the flooding coincided with hurricanes and nor'easters, much of it was driven mainly by sea level rise fueled by climate change, scientists with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) write. The oceans are rising about 3 millimeters a year on average, driven primarily by melting land ice and warming water, which expands. That rate is accelerating, and it has led to a steady increase in U.S. coastal flooding in recent decades, the report shows. Several cities—including Boston, Atlantic City, and Sabine Pass, Texas—saw more than 20 days of high-tide flooding between May 2017 and April 2018, the "meteorological year" covered by the report.
To get a sense of how much it will cost the nation to save itself from rising seas over the next 50 years, consider Norfolk, Virginia. In November, the Army Corps released a proposal for protecting the city from coastal flooding that would cost $1.8 billion. Some experts consider the estimate low. And it doesn't include the Navy's largest base, which lies within city limits and likely needs at least another $1 billion in construction. Then consider the costs to protect Boston, New York, Baltimore, Miami, Tampa, New Orleans, Houston and the more than 3,000 miles of coastline in between. Rising seas driven by climate change are flooding the nation's coasts now. The problem will get worse over the next 50 years, but the United States has barely begun to consider what's needed and hasn't grappled with the costs or who will pay.
By Basav Sen for Other Words - Our culture of legalized bribery makes climate disasters more likely, but there's an alternative. “It’s flooding down in Texas,” goes the old song. “All of the telephone lines are down.” With apologies to Stevie Ray Vaughan, there’s a lot more down in Texas than telephone lines now. Power lines are down, homes are destroyed, and cities sit underwater. Dozens have died. For me, this is personal. I worried intensely about friends and family in Houston and Corpus Christi. Thankfully all are safe, but it’s been jarring to see photos of places I know underwater. Every time I check the news I recognize familiar places from the long drive from Houston to Corpus I’ve made numerous times. There’s another unforgettable sight I often recall from that drive. In Taft, Texas, as you’re nearing Corpus — a major refinery town — over the horizon comes a huge wind farm. What does this juxtaposition of refineries and wind farms have to do with the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey?
By Kevin McGill for Associated Press. NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Louisiana flood protection board has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to revive its lawsuit seeking to make oil, gas and pipeline companies pay for decades of damage to coastal wetlands, hoping to reverse losses in the lower federal courts. The suit drew fierce opposition from the energy industry and many in state government when it was filed in 2013 by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. It said the energy industry’s dredging of canals in coastal drilling areas contributed to loss of wetlands that form a hurricane buffer for New Orleans. Some 80 companies are named as defendants, among them Chevron, Exxon Mobil Corp., and subsidiaries of BP.
By Christopher Flavelle for Bloomberg - In coastal New Jersey, the debate about whether the climate is changing has been superseded by a more urgent question: What to do about it? While local officials such as Spodofora want to build walls against rising seas and fiercer storms, environmentalists say that delays the inevitable. The best policy, they say, is to encourage people to move inland and let the most vulnerable areas disappear into the water. They may have found allies in the Federal Emergency Management Agency. After spending more than $278 billion on disaster relief over the past decade, the agency has begun to consider a change in tactics. In March, Bob Fenton, FEMA’s acting administrator, told a meeting of state emergency directors that governments need to find ways to reduce risk. “We need to move out of threatened areas,” he said. New Jersey shows just how hard that will be. Sea levels along the Jersey coast are projected to rise as much as a foot by 2030 and close to 2 feet by 2050, according to a 2016 report by Rutgers University. By 2100, if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, more than three-quarters of the property, by value, in some towns will be underwater.
By Matthew Teague for The Guardian - The cost of August’s historic flooding in Louisiana is surging into view now, and rising as fast as riverwater. It could hit $15bn, according to a new report, and state officials and residents have begun scrambling to find money as southern Louisiana slowly dries out. Flood insurance will cover only a fraction of the cost, because 80% of the homes affected – more than 110,000, and almost as many vehicles – had no such insurance. The region has never flooded in living memory, and in many areas flood insurance was not even available.
By Zahra Hirji for Inside Climate News - The devastating rainstorm that unleashed terrifying flooding last weekend in Louisiana, with thousands of people escaping their homes and whole parishes being overtaken by water, comes in recent succession to similarly extreme and deadly storms across the country—in Texas, Maryland, West Virginia and South Carolina. These intense storms have become seemingly commonplace, raising questions about climate change's role.
By Marlene Cimons for Climate Progress - For decades, ever since scientists began estimating the threat of floods, the stale-sounding concept of “stationarity” has been a big factor in their deliberations. “Stationarity,” the theory that certain things that contribute to floods don’t change over time, traditionally included climate. Assuming a non-changing climate, experts relied on historical flood risk data to gauge the danger of future floods. But stationarity — as once defined — no longer exists.
By Staff of Native News Online - ODANAH, WISCONSIN – The Bad River Reservation experienced severe flooding on Monday, July 11, 2016, through Thursday, July 14, 2016. The floods were the result of a series of severe thunderstorms that moved through the area, causing significant property damage and the destruction of roads, bridges, community facilities, trails and recreation areas as well as individuals’ homes on the reservation.
By Sharmini Peries for The Real New - Last week storms battered the Southwest in the United States and in Louisiana, which was the hardest hit state, three people lost their lives and thousands lost their homes and businesses. The Sabine River on the border of Louisiana and Texas hit the highest water level on record, surpassing the previous record set in 1999 by over 5 feet. Climate scientists are saying we are not only in a period of global warming, we are now entering a global climate change emergency. As NOAA recently confirmed, February surpassed all records in terms of temperatures. January 2016 also broke all-time records for above average temperatures, but the extent to which February broke temperature records alarmed many scientists, the month was more than 0.2°C warmer. Now many scientific studies have linked extreme weather events to climate change.