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Compendium of notable news and opinions on hurricanes, climate change and other coastal stuff

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quilleby Len Bahr, Ph.D.

Editor’s note: For weeks I’ve been sitting on a growing collection of draft coastal topics, most climate change-related, each blog-worthy but none fleshed out with appropriate commentary. What to do? My solution was to post links to these articles with limited commentary, as a compendium of recent provocative publications, each worth reading and not needing much interpretation. Here they are, from the oldest to the newest.

July 7: Salon.com published an interview by Alli Joseph with Paul Hawken about the gross misuse of the phrase ‘belief in climate change.’

July 14: Vox.com published an article by David Roberts on the direct relationship between American household income and carbon emissions.

July 15: theadvocate/com published an article by Steve Hardy on the effects on Louisiana of a six foot rise in global sea level as a result of climate change. What is truly refreshing about Hardy’s article is that it represents one of the rare warnings abut climate change to be found in the local media, which seems to be strongly influenced by the political setting of denial at the State Capitol. On the same day, MotherJones.com published an article by Nathalie Baptiste on the threat to 170 coastal cities from climate change-inducedsea level rise by 2100, based on a new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

July 18: TheHill.com published a report by Jacqueline Thomas that the notoriously uninformed ‘whizkid’ Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) seriously asked NASA science panelists during a legislative hearing whether evidence had been found of a civilization on Mars only thousands of years ago! One wonders, of course, whether this civilization would predate the earthly Garden of Eden some 6,000 years ago.

July 25: Slte.com posted an article by Lawrence Krauss with Future Tense’s The Citizen’s Guide to the Future, about Donald Trump’s systematic gutting of scientists from government agencies.

July 30: Eos.com posted a lengthy article on the fact that White House has still not appointed someone to head the critical Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

August 5: NOLA.com | TheTimes-Picayune published an article from the New York Times by by Yamiche Alcindor about environmental injustice on the Gulf Coast — the effects of climate change on folks who work outside duing brutal summers in states along the third coast.  On the same day TheAtlantic.com published an article by Michelle Cottle on the congressional effort to reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Here’s an interesting quote, issued just prior to Hurricane Harvey:

,,,every time some neighborhood in Galveston or Daytona winds up underwater (Texas, Florida, and Louisiana account for more than half of all policies), the rest of the nation effectively bails them out. Not that coastal areas bear all the blame—rivers have a nasty habit of overflowing as well. Last August, an ugly storm parked itself over Baton Rouge for several days, dropping upwards of 20 inches of rain that caused $10 billion in damages.

August 8: Summary of an article about a new climate change report by the National Ocenographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as reported by the NY Times.

August 9: Article in politico.com on the NOAA study by Emily Holden and Lily Mihalik. On the same day TheAdvocate.com published an editorial by Stephanie Grace heroically calling out state officials for refusing to acknowledge climate change. These officials include Congressman Garret Graves (R-Baton Rouge), who enabled Bobby Jindal to build sand berms against the BP blowout and who’s the subject of a post currently in draft form.

August 10: AP report by Seth Borenstein about exceptional weather events in 2016 that cannot be mere coincidence. Borenstein quoted top climate experts, including several co-authors of the NOAA study referred to above. On the same day an article by Charlie May in Salon.com noted that the draft NOAA study on climate change had been available to the public for a long time before NY Times article.

August 12: Article in Politico.com by Emily Holden about Scott Pruitt “reviewing” the same NOAA report.

August 14: Nola.com | TheTimes-Picayune published a report by Drew Broach that Louisiana ranks eighth among American states in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Here’s a quote:

Louisiana and nine other states account for almost half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the country, making them major U.S. contributors to global warming, the World Resources Institute reports. Louisiana is No. 8 among the Top 10 states, producing 3.4 percent of all such U.S. emissions, largely because of the state’s industrial, transportation and electric power sectors.

August 20: Nola.com | TheTimes-Picayune published a great article by Bob Marshall on the almost laughable fear of addressing climate change science by Louisiana officials, including Rep. Garret Graves (R-Baton Rouge) and state legislator Jerome Zeringue “Z,” from Houma. These guys should be ashamed of themselves, especially “Z.” On the same day an article appeared in Thehill.com by Julia Manchester noting that Donald Trump has disbanded a White House advisory committee on climate change.

August 24: Salon.com published an article by Gary Yohe on the huge risk of the administration’s rejection of the now infamous NOAA climate change report.

August 25: An article by Tristan Baurick in Nola.com | theTimes-Picayune described a new study by Alex Kolker with the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) on the potential effectiveness of sediment diversion projects. These are the projects that most scientists insist offer the only practical hope of reconnecting the Mississippi River to America’s Delta. These critical projects have unfortunately been postponed for far too long because of the selfish and short-sighted interests of oyster lease holders and other commercial fishing interests. That same day TheAdvocate.com published a thoughtful letter to the editor by levees.org founder Sandy Rosenthal concerning the ongoing blame game re the recent spate of flooding in New Orleans and the NOLA Sewerage and Water Board.

August 27: An Article by Zachary Warmbrodt was posted by Politico.com on the congressional struggle between fiscal hardliners and coastal state leaders who want to protect at risk homeowners in an effort to renew the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Hurrricane Harvey will bring that issue to a head.

August 28: Finally, an article by Justin Miller and Alex Hannaford was posted in TheDailyBeast.com on the Hurricane Harvey Houston disaster and debacle. This report describes the failure to evacuate Houston as Hurricane Harvey approached the coast and National Weather Service (NWS) models warned of record rainfall accumulation likely to inundate Houston…precisely what happened over the weekend.

The article quotes Louisiana’s former Governor Kathleen Blanco, who oversaw a valiant and largely successful effort to evacuate New Orleans prior to the landfall of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The problem, of course, was the huge number of folks lacking personal transportation who were trapped in a city largely below sea level and vulnerable to a substandard levee system ‘maintained’ by the Corps.

Hurricane Katrina helped give us Sand Berm Bobby Jindal and it’ll be interesting to see what happens to the political career of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a GOP climate change denier, who waffled on his faith in the science behind the computer models of the NWS and NOAA. The unmitigated and unrestricted development of Houston since the year 2000 is exactly parallel to the unrestricted development in the Baton Rouge area that set the Louisiana Capital City up for all time record flooding last August. That infamous flood event is now being described by planners as too rare to reoccur. Mark my words, that’s the way Harvey will be dismissed in a year or two.

 

 

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  1. Kelly Haggar says:

    Add this article to your list:

    Why America Still Hasn’t Learned the Lessons of Katrina
    As Harvey plows through Texas, officials in Louisiana are still battling with Washington and the Army Corps of Engineers to prevent the next disaster.
    By ANNIE SNIDER August 27, 2017
    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/08/27/hurricane-harvey-katrina-lessons-louisiana-215543#superComments

    I was going to highlight Prof. Richards’ comment but this one by Augo Knoke, Anavryta Classic High School, is so much better for discussion that I’m recommending it instead of his. Starts out with:

    It is sad that the comment section has deteriorated into a sniping ground for people buried over their head in their partisan trenches, warring with staid, worn-out, eternally repeated caricatures of arguments without any noticeable reference to the content of the article at hand. You probably could have presented a sequence of letters or words produced by a random generator, and most comments wouldn’t be any different.

    . . . then gets even better.

    • Kelly-
      I’m currently drafting a post as a riposte to Annie Snider’s lengthy but ill-informed article on the Louisiana coastal crises in Politico Magazine. She was somewhat misled by interviews with Steve Cochran, Jerome Zeringue, Wendell Curole, and David Muth, but totally snookered by the self serving sales pitch by Garret Graves.
      Len

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