Needed: shared platforms for adaptation and cost-benefit analysis

By Marie Venner, 17 Aug 2016

Zillow recently estimated that $1.9 trillion in residential property is at risk with sea level rise in the US, in the next 80 years or so — the lifetimes of our kids and grandkids and much of our own lives.  This doesn’t count the infrastructure costs or the land costs underlying that infrastructure.  Nor are many other costs included.

Districts, cities, regions, states and federal agencies are constantly paying for assessments though, by expensive consultants, of which I have been one.  Over the years, state transportation agencies have figured that the environmental analysis they are paying for should be saved and agglomerated — thus gathered and stored in accord with some common criteria and format.  Now is the time to do the same, and more extensively, for climate change adaptation and cost-benefit analysis.

Public agencies paid for the analyses and own the results and interim products.  They *just* have to be asked for, a meta-analysis performed, and a platform set up now.

We also need to be able to readily identify and compare what is included and what is not, in each study.  For example, what is included and not in the report below, from the reliable Potsdam Institute?

DOE labs supporting USDOT, DOE, and cities Clean Cities initiative and Smart Mobility are asking similar questions.  They want to think about the data issues in advance, have access, and be able to apply models and analysis to extend the learning nationwide (and beyond).

U.S. losses from hurricanes set to soar by 2100 – researchers

ROME, Aug 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The annual cost of damage caused by hurricanes in the United States may rise eight times by the end of the century, as the number and intensity of the storms increase on a warmer planet, researchers said on Tuesday.

Globally, tropical cyclones account for more than 50 percent of economic losses caused by weather. Their impact is projected to increase “substantially” as the number of people affected grows, incomes rise and storms worsen, the researchers said.

In the United States, the increase in the cost of hurricanes may even outpace economic growth if climate change is not curbed, the Germany-based Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) said in a paper.

“The losses of hurricanes will rise more strongly than GDP (gross domestic product) will rise – that’s basically what we found,” Tobias Geiger, lead researcher at PIK, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview.

Financial losses per storm could triple as a percentage of U.S. GDP by 2100 if climate change continued at its current pace, the study said.

For example, if a hurricane cost the equivalent of 1 percent of GDP today, the cost could rise to 3 percent of GDP in 2100.

“Our expectations are that as people get richer globally they might get less vulnerable … the question is, will that continue for ever?” Geiger said.

Countries may reach a stage where they cannot do any more to protect themselves from the impacts of hurricanes, at which point their losses may overtake their development, he added.

The scientists worked with models that linked information on wind speed, affected populations and per capita GDP.

Fellow researcher Anders Levermann said “the hope in economic growth as an answer to climate change is ill-founded”.

While adapting to the unavoidable impacts of global warming is important, efforts to reduce emissions of climate-changing gases are vital to prevent or reduce consequences that can still be headed off, Levermann added.

In the United States, hurricanes have caused an estimated $400 billion in losses between 1980 and 2014, PIK researchers said.

The worst storms to hit the country in recent years were Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Katrina was the costliest disaster of its kind in U.S. history. It killed more than 1,800 people, and most damage estimates put the economic impact at well over $100 billion.

Sandy, which killed 121 people, cost New York state and New Jersey at least $70 billion. (Reporting by Alex Whiting, editing by Megan Rowling; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit
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