What’s Another Way to Say ‘We’re F-cked’?

What’s Another Way to Say ‘We’re F-cked’?

SOURCE: Rolling Stone DATE: October 12, 2018 SNIP: Hurricane Michael, the third most intense storm on record to make landfall in the U.S., has caused widespread destruction, turning places like Mexico Beach, Florida, into a hellscape of broken homes and overturned cars. It will be a while before we learn the full extent of the damage — and the human suffering and death — caused by the storm’s 155 mph winds and the 14-foot storm surge that swamped the coastline. Bad as the hurricane was, imagine the damage and destruction if that storm surge had been 15 feet or so higher. And if instead of receding, that wall of water never went away. That is what we could be facing in the not-so-distant future if we don’t dramatically cut fossil-fuel pollution. If that sounds alarmist, watch this short video. In it, you’ll see a scientist named Richard Alley in a Skype discussion with students at Bard College, as well as with Eban Goodstein, director of the Graduate Programs in Sustainability at Bard. It would be just another nerdy Skype chat except Alley is talking frankly about something that few scientists have the courage to say in public: As bad as you think climate change might be in the coming decades, reality could be far worse. Within the lifetime of the students he’s talking with, Alley says, there’s some risk — small but not as small as you might hope — that the seas could rise as much as 15-to-20 feet. To judge how radical this is, compare Alley’s numbers to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate...
North Carolina didn’t like science on sea levels … so passed a law against it

North Carolina didn’t like science on sea levels … so passed a law against it

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: September 12, 2018 SNIP: When North Carolina got bad news about what its coast could look like thanks to climate change, it chose to ignore it. In 2012, the state now in the path of Hurricane Florence reacted to a prediction by its Coastal Resources Commission that sea levels could rise by 39in over the next century by passing a law that banned policies based on such forecasts. The legislation drew ridicule, including a mocking segment by comedian Stephen Colbert, who said: “If your science gives you a result you don’t like, pass a law saying the result is illegal. Problem solved.” North Carolina has a long, low-lying coastline and is considered one of the US areas most vulnerable to rising sea levels. But dire predictions alarmed coastal developers and their allies, who said they did not believe the rise in sea level would be as bad as the worst models predicted and said such forecasts could unnecessarily hurt property values and drive up insurance costs. As a result, the state’s official policy, rather than adapting to the worst potential effects of climate change, has been to assume it simply won’t be that bad. Instead of forecasts, it has mandated predictions based on historical data on sea level rise. “[C]oastal development flourishes as more beachfront buildings, highways and bridges are built to ease access to our beautiful beaches,” Orrin Pilkey, a retired Duke University coastal geologist wrote. “Currently the unspoken plan is to wait until the situation is catastrophic and then...
Submerged Risks Haunt Low-Level Airports

Submerged Risks Haunt Low-Level Airports

SOURCE: Bloomberg DATE: September 5, 2018 SNIP: The sight of a flooded Kansai International Airport and 3,000 stranded people after Typhoon Jebi slammed into southern Japan this week should be a warning to the world’s infrastructure investors. Airports have been a highly rated asset class over the past decade. The combined market capitalization of the companies that run the terminals in Paris, Shanghai, Sydney, Frankfurt, Copenhagen and Thailand has almost quadrupled in the past 10 years, and is up by about two-thirds since the end of 2016. Owning airports is seen as a surefire way to guarantee long-term cashflows and achieve hefty capital gains when the assets are sold at the end of multi-decade leases, underpinned by air-passenger growth that’s set to run at around 4.7 percent a year over the coming two decades. Airports of Thailand PCL, Sydney Airport Ltd. and Auckland International Airport Ltd. all have enterprise values in the region of 20 times forecast Ebitda, compared with multiples of around 12 times for Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc. and Apple Inc. That makes the sector’s patchy disclosure around climate-change risk all the more extraordinary. Through most of the 20th century, the key requirement for building an airport was the availability of a large stretch of undeveloped and affordable flat ground close to a major city. In many cases, that meant building on low-lying marshes, or even reclaimed land as at Osaka’s Kansai. Almost by definition, a large number of the world’s airports are in locations most at risk from rising sea levels, high tides, storm surges, extreme rainfall, or a combination of all four. [Y]you can get...
Sea level rise already causing billions in home value to disappear

Sea level rise already causing billions in home value to disappear

SOURCE: Axios DATE: August 23, 2018 SNIP: Sea level rise may seem like a far-off threat, but a growing number of new studies, including one out Thursday, shows that real estate markets have already started responding to increased flooding risks by reducing prices of vulnerable homes. The bottom line: According to a new report by the nonprofit First Street Foundation, housing values in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut dropped $6.7 billion from 2005 to 2017 due to flooding related to sea level rise. Combined with their prior analysis of 5 southeastern coastal states with $7.4 billion in lost home value, the total loss in 8 states since 2005 has been $14.1 billion. Driving the news: A recent slew of studies show how the housing market is responding to the increasing risk of coastal flooding — with billions in value disappearing as investors wake up to the systemic...
The San Onofre nuclear plant is a ‘Fukushima waiting to happen’

The San Onofre nuclear plant is a ‘Fukushima waiting to happen’

SOURCE: Los Angeles Times DATE: August 15, 2018 SNIP: Southern California Edison is keeping 3.6 million pounds of lethal radioactive waste at the shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant in San Clemente. The waste poses a significant threat to the health, safety and economic vitality of the region’s more than 8 million residents. But Edison’s plan for storing it is unnerving at best. The idea is to bury the spent fuel on site, about 100 feet from the ocean and just a few feet above the water table. Edison has already begun transferring the waste from cooling pools into specially designed steel canisters. The containers are prone to corrosion and cracking, and cannot be monitored or repaired. But flawed storage containers are just one of many worrisome aspects of the scheme. San Onofre sits on an active earthquake fault, in an area where there is a record of past tsunamis. It is close to Interstate 5, the railroad line that Amtrak runs on, and the Marines’ Camp Pendleton. The ocean is expected to keep rising over the next few decades, bringing seawater closer to the canisters. If hairline cracks or pinholes in the containers were to let in even a little bit of air, it could make the waste explosive. And although San Onofre is in a no-fly zone, it is not being guarded with radar and surface-to-air-missiles, as nuclear aircraft carriers are. It is protected by a handful of guards carrying pistols. This leaves the site susceptible to terrorist attacks. San Juan Capistrano Councilwoman Pam Patterson warned President Trump of this vulnerability at a roundtable meeting in May. She...