With the daily freak show of American politics, you might be forgiven for not noticing one of the most horrific disasters in years: the devastating floods in the southwestern Indian state of Kerala, at the tip of the subcontinent. More than 500 people have died, thousands of homes have been inundated, and more than 1.5 […]
FEMA has a lot of work to do to get up to the mark on disaster response and risk mitigation.
We face a future of increasing peril from disasters. One reason is climate change; another is that more people live in coastal areas where risks are especially high.We’re currently seeing the results of climate change in the California fires, and we saw both factors at work in last year’s flooding in Houston after Hurricane Harvey. […]
Secretary of Interior’s Op-Ed Ignores Science and Land-Use Planning to Falsely Blame Wildfire Risk on “Radical Environmentalists”
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke published an op-ed today calling for “active management” of our federal public lands to reduce wildfire risk, and blaming “radical environmentalists who would rather see forests and communities burn than see a logger in the woods” for the prevalance and lethality of wildfires in the American West. Zinke’s op-ed is disingenuous, […]
There are several strategies for insulating climate policy from leaders like Trump.
Trump’s election was a surprise. What should not be a surprise is the inevitability of political setbacks for climate policy. We saw that in the U.S. with the shift from Clinton to Bush and then from Obama to Trump. We also saw that in Australia where it meant the repeal of a promising emissions trading […]
Two weeks ago, my family vacation took us past the self-proclaimed “world’s largest thermometer,” in Baker, California, which read 111 degrees when we visited it–the hottest air temperature my kids had ever felt. Back at UCLA we’re feeling the heat today, too, with much of the LA basin scorching in record temperatures. L.A.’s heat wave […]
Also, please delete all references to global w***ing.
MEMORANDUM To: All Department Staff From: The Secretary Re: Eliminating Cl***** Ch**** As you know, it is this Administration’s policy to eliminate all references to Cl***** Ch**** from government documents. This policy has been unevenly implemented, but I have informed the President that we are adopting a zero-tolerance approach. All use of the “double-c […]
We live in an uncertain world. Scenario planning can help.
When Shell Oil produced a sophisticated scenario of the path to a carbon neutral world in 2070, a lot people took notice. Shell concluded that the “relevant transformations in the energy and natural systems require concurrent climate policy action and the deployment of disruptive new technologies at mass scale within government policy environments that strongly […]
Standards for levees, seawalls, and other infrastructure urgently need attention.
The federal government is responsible for responding to major floods and runs the federal flood insurance program. It also has millions of dollars of its own infrastructure at risk from floods. Yet the government is failing to deal effectively with flood risks before the fact. Let’s begin with the levees that are the main defense […]
Breakthroughs in gene editing might open the door to improved environmental protections. Or maybe not.
CRISPR is a breakthrough gene editing method. (I can’t refrain from noting that a key role in the discovery was played Jennifer Doudna at Berkeley.) There are potential risks from gene editing to the environment, similar to other types of GMOs. But there may be environmental benefits too. Here are a few that have been […]
It’s not just that we’re slow in achieving resilience. It’s that often we’re moving in the opposite direction.
Some economic models of climate change come out with low damages because they assume smooth and effective adaptation efforts. That never made much sense. There’s a lot of inertia in social systems, and planning major projects can take a long time. Some of what we’re seeing lately is worse than that, however. We’re seeing cases […]