September 5, 2014
The federal government needs a roots-deep overhaul of its natural disaster programs to knock down barriers that are discouraging state efforts at climate adaptation, according to a report released yesterday.
The document points to more than 100 changes that could be made by the Obama administration and Congress to national policies that often fail to acknowledge the potential impacts of rising seas and stronger storm surges in states where catastrophes are striking with sharpening intensity.
Improvements are needed across the spectrum of federal disaster policies, the report says, from public insurance programs that omit future climate risks to aging disaster aid legislation that rewards states that do the least to defend themselves against the punch of predictable cataclysms.
The recommendations follow a decade of damaging hurricanes, floods and other disasters, with damages reaching roughly $200 billion for the U.S. government. The impacts of sea-level rise, which scientists say will worsen flooding, envelop beaches and infiltrate drinking water, stand to exacerbate disasters in future decades.
"Thus, dramatic flood events like Superstorm Sandy will quickly become the new normal," says the report by the Georgetown Climate Center.