The Economic and Political Weekly is one of India’s most prestigious journals: for decades it has enjoyed a unique role in driving the Union’s policy conversation, partly because it is peer-reviewed. And this week, it contains a devastating report about how poor dam management exacerbated Kerala’s horrific floods. It’s an obvious issue: if dams have […]
Trump Administration Loses Yet Another Environmental Case
Understandably, most of the attention at the beginning of the week was devoted to the rollout of the Trump Administration’s token effort to regulate greenhouse gases, the ACE rule. But something else happened, too. On Tuesday, a D.C. Circuit ruling ignored objections from the Trump Administration and invalidated key parts of a rule dealing with […]
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, […]
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 […]
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 […]
Strolling west on Calle Loiza from the Ocean Park neighborhood of San Juan, Puerto Rico, you could miss the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria last September. Here in early May 2018, runners and walkers lap the track at Parque Barbosa while middle-aged men try to keep pace with younger guys on the sheltered basketball court. […]
Puerto Rico was hit much harder than Houston. But help was much slower coming.
Texas and Puerto Rico both got hit very hard last year by major hurricanes. But the federal government moved a lot more quickly to get help to Texas. In a new paper, I document the difference and explore the reasons. Although I won’t go into all the details here, this is a situation people need […]
The journalists are sure about the 2018 hurricane season. The scientists? Not so much.
I’m actually in Puerto Rico today for a conference on the situation here after Hurricane Maria. Since hurricanes are on my mind, I wondered what the forecast for this year looks like. As it turns out, the headlines give significantly different takes on what to expect. Here is a sample of news stories, all issued […]
It’s been eight months. What’s happened since the storm?
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in the U.S. on August 25, 2017. That probably seems like ancient history to many Americans who live outside the area. The storm has certainly dropped out of the national media. It’s not easy to find information about how storm recovery is proceeding. But here’s where I could find. Let’s start […]
The Anthropocene will produce profound economic, social, and political effects on human societies
In my prior post, I explained how humans are increasingly altering or influencing natural systems at a planetary level, and not just through climate change. Now I want to explain a little about the impacts of those changes on human societies, and the implications of those impacts for how we will respond as societies to […]