New York Times reporter Mireya Navarro highlights New York City's proposed changes to building codes in response to Hurricane Sandy. The changes are considered some of the most sweeping in the nation.
Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center in Washington, a group that assists cities in adapting to climate change, said that taken as a whole, the proposals were the most significant in the nation.
Ms. Arroyo said that other cities had strengthened building codes after major storms but that New York’s approach was more comprehensive, covering a wide range of things, like storm-water management and emergency power supplies. New York is also addressing a broader range of issues because of its unique stock of skyscrapers.
“This is more forward-looking than anything I’ve seen,” she said.
Read the full story here.
Washington Lawyer's cover story for May 2013, "The Cost of Doing Nothing," highlights the impact that climate change is already having in the U.S., and the important role that Hurricane Sandy is having on public perceptions about the issue.
Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center, discussed the issue with reporter Sarah Kellogg and underscored the important steps forward that many states are taking to prepare for climate changes.
"We've seen an interest on the state level in adaptation and resilience, even in states that are not that progressive on climate policy," says Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center at Georgetown University Law Center and a visiting professor of law. "Even if they're not at the forefront in terms of pushing clean energy or mitigating greenhouse gases, they are about adaptation planning."
"More and more, everyone is having to adapt in real time," Arroyo says. "Some states are looking at the need to change their way of life. They acknowledge that sea levels are rising even if state policies [are] not."
To read the full article, please visit the Washington Lawyer website by clicking here.
With climate change resulting in more extreme storms and damage to crops, bridges, and other infrastructure, the federal government took steps to recognize the large financial risks it now faces. The risk poised by climate change toped a biennial list of federal programs at high risk of waste, fraud, abuse or financial loss issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center, was quoted in a Washington Post story about new GAO report.
“It’s another sign that it’s finally sinking in that this is the new normal, that sea level, extreme weather and the impact of climate change is something that’s going to cost us both today and long into the future,” said Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center.
Click here to read the full story.
The Georgetown Climate Center's Vicki Arroyo and Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, recently discussed changing public opinions and prospects for new policy actions to address climate change on the National Public Radio program "On Point."
Click play below to listen to the Dec. 6 program.
The Georgetown Climate Center's Vicki Arroyo recently joined Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Eric Pooley from the Environmental Defense Fund, and Bill Becker from the Presidential Climate Action Project to discuss what President Obama and Congress can do on climate change in the next four years. The event was hosted by The Climate Desk.
Watch video of the event below:
In the wake of super storm Sandy and last week's national election, there is a growing call for elected leaders and policy makers to once again more aggressively prepare for and mitigate climate changes. This week, the Climate Center's Vicki Arroyo added to that important drumbeat, calling on a newly re-elected President Obama to take actions in his second term to help us prepare for extreme storms and other climate change impacts.
In an opinion piece to the Huffington Post, Arroyo specifically called for the president to lead by following through with steps his administration began during its first term. These steps include releasing federal agency reports that identify vulnerabilities to climate change and explain how federal agencies can adapt and moving forward with EPA regulations of greenhouse gas pollution from large stationary sources.
She also urged the president to work with Congress in a bipartisan manner during his second term to:
1. Pass new legislation that allows FEMA and the federal government to support efforts to prepare for and adapt to the effects of climate change-instead of just responding after the fact to disasters like heat waves, droughts and floods.
2. Amend the Stafford Act, the underlying disaster statute, to explicitly direct FEMA to support communities' efforts to rebuild differently or relocate vulnerable homes after a storm.
3. Put a price on carbon emissions.
Chris Mooney of Mother Jones discusses the prospects for climate action and leadership in Obama's second term in office. His piece revolves around five key ideas: 1) Use the bully pulpit, 2) Promote climate resilience, 3) Eliminate climate change accelerants, 4) Unleash the EPA, and 5) Restart the conversation about pricing carbon—without cutting off the EPA.
In the piece, he also shared some thoughts by the Center's Vicki Arroyo on some of the changes and opportunities for action on climate resilience.
"Traditionally, FEMA flood maps have been geared to a 100-year flood based on historic record, rather than looking forward based on climate projections," says Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center. In other words, FEMA still bases its planning on the planet of the past, rather than the planet of future in which vulnerability is increasing, rather than staying static.
New legislation passed in June took steps towards modernizing the program, and promoting climate planning—but that's just the beginning. The flood insurance program went into considerable debt after Hurricane Katrina, and that's likely to happen again after Sandy—meaning Congress will have to raise its flood "debt ceiling," so to speak. "In the context of that," Arroyo says, "ideally you would also see some funds that promote preparation in the future, rather than just dealing with things in 'disaster mode.'"
Of course, FEMA is just one of many federal agencies that need to modernize in the face of climate change—from the US Army Corps of Engineers to the Department of Transportation, the infrastructure and programs that will be impacted by climate are massive. In 2009, Obama issued an executive order requiring every federal agency to assess its vulnerability to climate change (e.g., low-lying highways, bridges, and other infrastructure). But these reports have not yet been released—in fact, Arroyo charges that they have already been written, but are being held up. Now that he has won reelection, it's past time for Obama to put them out. "That I hope will be a starting point, looking at the government's own buildings and infrastructure," says Arroyo.
In this recently released talk presented at TEDGlobal, Vicki Arroyo outlines the case for building resilience: providing examples of actions underway and explaining why the time is now to make changes in how we design and plan our communities with climate change in mind.
From highways to airports to nuclear power plants, infrastructure in the U.S. is increasingly under stress from extreme heat, drought, flooding, and other climate change impacts.
In a recent New York Times article, Georgetown's Vicki Arroyo and other experts discuss the need for U.S. policymakers to begin adopting more common-sense solutions and long-term planning to help communities adapt to climate change.
On a single day this month here, a US Airways regional jet became stuck in asphalt that had softened in 100-degree temperatures, and a subway train derailed after the heat stretched the track so far that it kinked — inserting a sharp angle into a stretch that was supposed to be straight. In East Texas, heat and drought have had a startling effect on the clay-rich soils under highways, which “just shrink like crazy,” leading to “horrendous cracking,” said Tom Scullion, senior research engineer with the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University. In Northeastern and Midwestern states, he said, unusually high heat is causing highway sections to expand beyond their design limits, press against each other and “pop up,” creating jarring and even hazardous speed bumps.
Excessive warmth and dryness are threatening other parts of the grid as well. In the Chicago area, a twin-unit nuclear plant had to get special permission to keep operating this month because the pond it uses for cooling water rose to 102 degrees; its license to operate allows it to go only to 100. According to the Midwest Independent System Operator, the grid operator for the region, a different power plant had had to shut because the body of water from which it draws its cooling water had dropped so low that the intake pipe became high and dry; another had to cut back generation because cooling water was too warm.
The frequency of extreme weather is up over the past few years, and people who deal with infrastructure expect that to continue. Leading climate models suggest that weather-sensitive parts of the infrastructure will be seeing many more extreme episodes, along with shifts in weather patterns and rising maximum (and minimum) temperatures.
“We’ve got the ‘storm of the century’ every year now,” said Bill Gausman, a senior vice president and a 38-year veteran at the Potomac Electric Power Company, which took eight days to recover from the June 29 “derecho” storm that raced from the Midwest to the Eastern Seaboard and knocked out power for 4.3 million people in 10 states and the District of Columbia.
In general, nobody in charge of anything made of steel and concrete can plan based on past trends, said Vicki Arroyo, who heads the Georgetown Climate Center at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, a clearinghouse on climate-change adaptation strategies.
To read the complete article on the New York Times, please click here.
We know that climate change is happening and that its impacts will affect all of us. In fact, we may have already passed a tipping point, and we are already seeing the increase in extreme storms, flooding, and droughts that scientists have long expected.
In Edinburgh, Scotland this week, Georgetown Climate Center Executive Director Vicki Arroyo took to the stage at the Global TED conference to stress the importance of planning to help our communities adapt to the climate changes that are coming.
While she emphasized that mitigating greenhouse gas emissions remains essential, she said we must begin planning for the changes that are now inevitable as well. She focused her comments on examples related to three areas: adapting to storms and floods, adapting to rising seas, and preparing for heat and drought.
The good news, she said, is that most of the adaptive actions needed are local and community-based, which means that we can all have an impact.
“There are no quick fixes, no one-size-fits-all solutions. It’s all learning by doing, but the operative word is doing,” she said. “Adaptation will not be painless and it won’t be perfect, but inaction — no action — is not an option.”
Once a public video of her talk is available, it will be posted here. For a full recap, you may also check out this TED blog about her speech.