Disaster Zone

November 23, 2018, Federal Climate Change Report

The Fourth National Climate Assessment has been released.

by Eric Holdeman / November 23, 2018

When is the best time to release bad information that is not conducive to your business operations or policy? Fridays!  Black Friday would be a particularly good time to share bad information that does not paint your policies in a good light. Thus, today, Friday, Nov. 23 is when the Trump administration released the Fourth National Climate Assessment.

No, this is not the United Nations report, this is coming from United States government sources. It is a bit of a "doom and gloom" document that gives me some solace in knowing that I will not be alive to see the full ramifications of doing little to nothing today to mitigate or adapt to changing climate conditions. We could go out and "rake the forest floor" as an adaptation strategy, but it is not something that the experts recommend. My real concern is for the future for my grandchildren and their children who will likely be around at the turn of the next century. It is a reminder that when you ignore facts, it is to your own detriment — in the long run.

The information I copied below from the report's summary highlights much of what I do today, in my position as director of the Center for Regional Disaster Resilience (CRDR). We have a focus (in this area) on the critical infrastructure interdependencies that exist between infrastructures. 

Interconnected Impacts

"Climate change affects the natural, built, and social systems we rely on individually and through their connections to one another. These interconnected systems are increasingly vulnerable to cascading impacts that are often difficult to predict, threatening essential services within and beyond the Nation’s borders.

Climate change presents added risks to interconnected systems that are already exposed to a range of stressors such as aging and deteriorating infrastructure, land-use changes, and population growth. Extreme weather and climate-related impacts on one system can result in increased risks or failures in other critical systems, including water resources, food production and distribution, energy and transportation, public health, international trade, and national security. The full extent of climate change risks to interconnected systems, many of which span regional and national boundaries, is often greater than the sum of risks to individual sectors. Failure to anticipate interconnected impacts can lead to missed opportunities for effectively managing the risks of climate change and can also lead to management responses that increase risks to other sectors and regions. Joint planning with stakeholders across sectors, regions, and jurisdictions can help identify critical risks arising from interaction among systems ahead of time."

I think of this inaction on climate mitigation or adaptation as being equivalent to deferred maintenance. You get by with it for a long time, but then you end up with the New York subway system that has been ignored for a long time and will have to be rebuilt from the ground up.