Climate Change Infrastructures

Dear Editor,

The President withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord not because he is against the notion of ‘climate change’ but because he understands that change is going to happen and the non-binding Accord would not move the needle one way or the other. How should we handle climate change projections? Infrastructure changes are one way.

What does the American infrastructure have to do with a changing climate? Everything! I am asking you to put your critical thinking caps on for just a moment. Expand your minds and think about the climate as part of the infrastructure of our society. It doesn’t mean we have to get rid of anything, like fossil fuels. It means to improve what we got with more efficient innovative ideas so that there is a more compatible environment between earth’s biosphere and mankind’s infrastructure.

An often-repeated truth about Hurricane Katrina is that the events of August 29, 2005 were not a natural/climate disaster – it was a man-made disaster caused by the failure of levee and pump systems designed to protect a city built on a floodplain.

Solution: Hurricane Katrina was considered a 400-year storm but the levee/pump system in place could barely handle normal storm surges before climate change was all the rage. What the Army Corps of Engineers should be doing now is designing a levee/pump system for 2050, not just a Category 3 storm surge for today. After $14.5 billion spent, there are still documented flaws in the new levee system. There should have been some climate infrastructure planning and yes, which does cost a lot of extra dollars.

Another example of climate infrastructure planning in the US is for national defense. The US Military has always been concerned about climate and has tried to plan for the worst case scenarios and then determined the risk and budget for them. Norfolk Naval Base and Shipyard is one of the largest in the world set at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Like New Orleans, the majority of Norfolk Naval Base, if not all of it, is at risk of annual flooding because it’s so low and flat (another floodplain).

President Trump has substantially increased the Department of Defense budget for 2018 without defining line items to be allocated. He has left that decision to the DOD which will probably invest a portion in climate infrastructure for all their hardware and personnel. If the Norfolk base needs a levee around it or the docks elevated, then that has to be a line item in their budget. Norfolk Naval Base isn’t going anywhere except up.

If you impede the floodplains the water has to go somewhere else. That somewhere is also up or out. It is amazing how we blame climate change for outdated coastal infrastructures that were designed for minimal storm surges. Well, now we have to make a choice: continue paling against rising sea levels or just leave.

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