Get that uncertainty off the road, we have adapting to do!

From Vanderbilt University , damn the torpedoes uncertainty and full speed ahead, there’s a trillion dollars at stake:

Time to begin anticipating and adapting to climate change

Despite the uncertainties surrounding climate change, it is time to start developing effective strategies that will keep the nation’s transportation systems and other critical infrastructure running in the face of the adverse impacts that seem increasingly likely to occur.

This consensus emerged from a two-day leadership summit that brought together major stakeholders from the $1 trillion-plus freight transportation sector with climate change researchers to discuss the issue for the first time. The meeting was held in June at Vanderbilt University and was sponsored by the Vanderbilt Center for Transportation Research (VECTOR), Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment (VIEE) and the University of Memphis’ Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute.

“It is increasingly clear that climate change will have potentially large impacts on the nation’s highways, railroads, waterways, airports and pipelines. In all likelihood, these impacts will increase in the future, so we have to learn how to plan ahead,” said George Hornberger, director of VIEE and distinguished professor of civil and environmental engineering.

Weather-related damage to nation’s infrastructure on the rise

According to the University Center for Atmospheric Research, more than 75 percent of natural disasters are triggered directly or indirectly by weather and climate. In the U.S., more than a quarter of our gross national product (+$2 trillion) is sensitive to weather and climate events, which affect our health, safety, economy, environment, transportation systems and national security. Each year, the U.S. sustains billions of dollars in weather-related damages caused by hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires, flooding, heavy snows and drought. The threats associated with extreme weather and climate change are substantial and adapting to climate change will be crucial to economic and social stability, for example by making future water, food and energy supplies reliable and sustainable. Contributing to these costs is the problem of the nation’s aging infrastructure, which needs $2.2 trillion in improvements to meet today’s demands, according to the 2009 National Infrastructure Report Card by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Unless the nation begins taking appropriate measures, these costs are likely to increase: “It appears to us that more extreme weather events – like floods and hurricanes – are becoming more frequent and pronounced and we need to be prepared to adapt to the prospect that what have been episodic events in the past become chronic features of our operational landscape in the future,” observed Craig Philip, Chief Executive Officer of the Ingram Barge Company and a member of the conference steering committee.

The Mississippi River floods in April and May, which were among the largest and most damaging recorded along the waterway in the past century, the flooding on the Missouri that began in June and the above-average wildfire season that burned 1.3 million acres in the month of June in the Southern Plains and Southwest, are dramatic examples of the kinds of natural disasters that experts predict will become increasingly severe and frequent.

“Right now people are waking up to the fact that they will have to adapt, but very few are walking the walk,” commented Mark Abkowitz, co-organizer of the meeting and professor of engineering management at Vanderbilt. “If we’re not careful and begin taking actions soon, we will fall so far behind that playing catch-up will be difficult.”

Reasons for current lack of action

The summit discussions identified several reasons for the current lack of action: 1) uncertainty in the timing and magnitude of climate change; 2) insufficient knowledge of how these changes will impact the performance of critical infrastructure systems; 3) the succession of short-term crises that deflect attention and resources; and, 4) lack of political leadership.

So far, the federal government has focused almost exclusively on mitigation: developing methods that reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released in various industrial processes or sequestering carbon deep underground.

“Regardless of the success of mitigation efforts, we will need to adapt. Even if we could completely stop injecting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the concentration of carbon dioxide is already significantly higher than historic levels so we would still have to handle the consequences,” said Hornberger. Key initiatives for next five years Summit delegates identified several key initiatives that should be undertaken in the next five years:

  • Identify the critical infrastructure that is most vulnerable to damage and disruption. Of particular importance are bridges, highways, rail lines, airports and other key transportation facilities for which there are no alternatives;
  • Assess the cost of impacts to key infrastructure components. Putting a dollar sign on the potential damage for non-action helps determine the benefits of the proposed protective measures;
  • Develop better tools and models for performing risk assessments. Right now the climate models are more accurate at the global and regional scale, but they are not capable of predicting the local effects that planners need;
  • Define and communicate climate change problems in terms that decision makers can understand;
  • Improve dialogue and collaboration among stakeholders.

“There is no reason why we should wait to get started down this path,” said Abkowitz. “As long as our approach remains flexible, we can adapt as better information becomes available.”

###

Videos of the plenary sessions of the meeting can be viewed on the Vanderbilt School of Engineering’s website at http://engineering.vanderbilt.edu/CivilAndEnvironmentalEngineering/News/PodcastsVideos.aspx

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83 thoughts on “Get that uncertainty off the road, we have adapting to do!

  1. “we can adapt as better information becomes available”
    So, they are not sure what is going on, but they want our money just in case…
    And this is coming from an University?
    Geez..

  2. I blame Hollywood!
    Is it true that if you think the rest of the world is mad it’s really you!

  3. It’s very discouraging that $’s trump science every time. I feel that we are still losing the war even though we win a battle once in a while.

  4. Actually – they’re right! When it’s cold everything stops working – at least it does in the UK!
    Power grid, roads, railways, airports, exposed phone lines, frozen water pipes, people die of hypothermia ‘cos they can’t afford to heat their homes… Blah, blah… And we are totally unprepared for it…

  5. Must say, this seems (relatively) sensible. Improving infrastructure is never a bad thing and would have benefits regardless of the truth or otherwise of AGW.
    Of course, it would be best if any money involved came out of existing streams currently feeding the Mitigation Monster rather than as additional costs but one step at a time, guys…….

  6. Wow. I thought the first paragraph was a load of bunkum, but every paragraph and bullet point that followed was a mishmash of all the familiar AGW cliches, with a little spin for “infrastructure” and “adaptation.”
    And the bottom line was obvious: “Make some room for us infrastructure guys at the federal climate change feeding trough. We’re hungry too!”

  7. Nobody knpws what the weather wil be in three days let alone the climate change in 50-100 years time.
    Do what we always do, use an umberella when it rains and a sunshade when it shines. Keep inside during storms. That should be OK for 99.99% of the time, the remaining get clear till its over.

  8. “Unless the nation begins taking appropriate measures, these costs are likely to increase”

    Hold on.
    taking appropriate measures == To Spend Trillions

    “Unless the nation begins To Spend Trillions, these costs are likely to increase”

    Yes folks, that is their train of thought. Note that the 2nd half of their logic (‘costs are likely to increase‘) will always be true anyway, nothing ever goes down in cost in the future. Even the most loony economists can’t imagine negative inflation over any period of time.
    So, their boilerplate propaganda is nothing more than an intentional self-fulfilling prophecy. If we spend trillions in advance on an alarmist theory, the costs of future hurricanes, tornadoes (and nice sunny days) will accordingly go up in cost (but more than if we spent nothing in advance) validating their insane theory. But wait for it, still they will later say: ‘we spent trillions on preparing for these disasters and still they occurred, but they would have been worse if we hadn’t spent the money‘. Others will say: ‘we didn’t spend enough’. Rinse, repeat. Ad Infinitum. Allowing liberals to be involved in any fiscal matter is like letting your children go shopping on your credit card. A credit card that has no limits.
    The smarter move is to spend nothing in advance for alarmism, and plan accordingly using actual historical events as the guide. Even smarter is to close down all taxpayer funded alarmists, sue for return of past monies spent, jail everyone involved in Enron style ‘pump and dumps’, carbon and insider trading, and call it a day.
    Then, the normal people can live long and prosper.

  9. This falls into the same category as re-insurance companies heavily supporting carbon cult “research”. They’re using the “science” as an officially justifiable way to throw off liability onto other industries.
    Too bad the Italian Mafia never figured out how to use “science”; they’d be the masters of the world now instead of the Wall Street Mafia.

  10. Extreme events by there [their?] very definition have a low probability of occurring, therefore is spending a lot of money to prepare for something that will hardly happens even sensible? If we take the argument further why not build underground shelters to avoid large meteorites which someday will come. Or ban passenger flights due to the increase in exposure to radiation which leads to cancer and life shortening.

  11. Infrastructure is a problem in both the USA and Canada (ask any Quebecker about bridges failing and concrete slabs falling into roadways!), whether the climate changes drastically or doesn’t change at all. They have mixed two independent problems (or “problems”), which is typical of warmists. But there is a definite infrastructure problem that will require lots of money to fix.
    IanM

  12. A few points to make:
    1. The Mississippi floods have nothing to do with Climate Change. Great rivers like this flood on regular cycles. It’s God’s will, the way the earth was designed. It says something about town planners that so many conurbations are built on the side of a river which floods every few decades……perhaps ‘common sense’ might be a bit higher up the agenda when such folks take their professional exams?!
    2. The effects of heavy rain are amplified if you cut down forests. So if you want to sort that out you need to dedicate a few decades to enlightened replanting strategies. Go speak to the original American people if you need to learn about such things…….
    3. El Nino-related weather events are periodic too. Nothing to do with climate change either – they’ve happened for centuries. Whilst it’s a good idea to have early warning systems and transportation route managerment strategies in place, places like California might like to think how they can most effectively set up their State to have sponge-like properties when the great el Nino rains come, as that will maximise the storage of water in the land, underground and in storage facilities. As they have droughts pretty regularly, there is some incentive to do this…..no doubt other states have slightly different issues, but if you thought about weather cycles on a 22 and 60 range, you might plan more holistically for what mother nature will throw at you…..
    You could go on and on, but mostly it comes down to common sense.America experiences torrential rainstorms, mammoth snowfall, searing heat and drought as well as hurricanes and tornadoes at fairly regular intervals.
    Either you learn to live with it, or you don’t.
    But it ain’t going away any time soon…….

  13. Chuck L says:
    August 23, 2011 at 4:19 am

    It’s very discouraging that $’s trump science every time. I feel that we are still losing the war even though we win a battle once in a while.

    The lack of dollars from the global economic collapse will make it impossible to proceed with such grandiose, wasteful plans. The battle is won–the opponents are rallying behind the likes of Al Gore.

  14. it is time to start developing effective strategies that will keep the nation’s transportation systems and other critical infrastructure running in the face of the adverse impacts that seem increasingly likely to occur.

    And what is the opinion that adverse impacts, obviously implied to be from global warming, are more likely to occur based on? Is it based on the fact that it has been over 1070 days since the last hurricane hit the mainland US? Is it based on the fact that the last two winters have been abnormally cold for many people? Is it based on the fact that sea level has stopped rising, at least temporarily?
    Once again, science has things backwards. They start with the answer. “Global warming is real, how do I prove it?” That isn’t science, that is religion. Science starts with the question. “Is global warming real? What does the proof say?”

  15. Once we get rid of the humans, think what a wonderful world we will have. We thought the DDT ban hoax was enough, but sadly we needed more.
    Why not we play warmists first … Al Gore step forward we need to downsize your carbon footprint.

  16. Ian L. McQueen is right! A 25 ton piece of a bridge pillar fell into the roadway, the third layer of rebar had been exposed for years. Yet, money was diverted to social programs, health, welfare, etc. Now, the bridge is closed, and, and, and how does one get to work? how many more buses, trucks, and cars go over the remaining bridge? what is the impact; ie, life of the remaining infrastructure that now has increased use? The cost of delay is the shortening the lifespan of the remaining bridges. A new bridge? just one of the costs.

  17. Here’s a good one…
    “Develop better tools and models for performing risk assessments. Right now the climate models are more accurate at the global and regional scale, but they are not capable of predicting the local effects that planners need.”
    Climate models – more accurate?? I didn’t realize those words would be used in a sentence together…[LOL]
    (Of course, with codes like NASA/GISS Model E, urge to start over and develop “better tools” is quite compelling…)

  18. “adverse impacts that seem increasingly likely to occur”
    Try that again? How about backwards? “occurences likely increasingly seeming to impact adversity”…make about as much sense, don’t you think? This is a grand example of erring to the cautious. It might happen, so in order to assuage the I-told-you-so’s if it does happen, we should squander out future, just in case. None of you would be surprised at the number of armchair world-savers that hold that view as common-sensical.

  19. I don’t blame the transportation sector one bit for looking at climate change as a way to get federal and state money. I don’t beleive in ACC but I would do the same thing if I were in their shoes. Almost every industry out there has been trying to find a way to do the same thing. Business is business.

  20. Blade says:
    August 23, 2011 at 4:25 am
    “Hold on…… ”
    Right on, Blade. Well said.
    The same for CinbadtheSailor August 23, 2011 at 4:39 am
    Man has not, and can not, cause climate change[in the foreseeable future]
    CO2 and the GHE has been debunked. Controlling CO2 emissions is moot.

  21. Where are all these trillions going to come from?
    What extra planning for that which we do not know can
    be done beyond normal contingency planning that is
    done anyway?

  22. I believe building / improving infrastructures so they are capable to resist better to natural disasters is a good investment for the future . After all, natural disaster have happened in the past and will always happen, no matter if AGW is real or a bogus. If a trillion dollar has to be spent, better to use it for something that can actually bring benefit to the community, rather than waste them trying to contain or limit greenhouse gas emissions and ruining the economy. My only suggestion is don’t focus only on the natural disaster created by a potential warming, but also consider those that could occur as consequence of a potential cooling.

  23. All else being equal, adaptation is likely a better strategy than mitigation in regards to climate change. This is especially true because of the uncertainty. Regardless, planning ahead is not a strong suit for our government at any level.

  24. “It appears to us that more extreme weather events – like floods and hurricanes – are becoming more frequent and pronounced “
    Hurricanes are becoming more frequent and pronounced? It’s just the opposite.

  25. Since the climate has really done nothing for about 15 years and is now actively cooling, where do the get the increasing evidence of the effects of climate change. Changes have been minimal or zero over the last 20+ years as the change has zero’d out a bit of the warming in the 90s.
    These guys have overactive imaginations. How about they simply realize that all kinds of weather happens regardless of he warming of cooling phase we are in and plan for blizzards, ice storms, hail, tornadoes, hurricanes, violent crosswinds, heat waves, cold snaps, sunny days, etc.? This is a no-brainer.

  26. So the ‘concensus’ was amongst those who want to build infrastructure and those who want even more grants to maintain their comfortable lifestyles. Who pays for this? Ultimately, it is the taxpayer, who does not work for government.
    This used to be called “having a vested interest” in the outcome – these views would be noted (repeat: noted, not accepted) by those independents who do not have any such interests.
    As an independent without any vested interests, I can clearly say the subject was clearly one of hype, scaremongering and unsubstantiated conclusions. But what do I know, I’m just a chartered scientist operating in the private sector

  27. These guys obviously have drunk the Kool Aid. Hurricanes, floods and forest fires, all getting worse.
    Hurricane Irene is the first that might hit the US in almost 3 years. Atmospheric energy remains historically low.
    The bad forest fires were due to forest mismanagement and the suppression of natural burns for 40 years—a big mistake. Smoky Bear aside, the forest rangers were too thorough and now represent a largely misguided program.
    The Mississippi River area floods were due to dam mismanagement and the interference of the Greenies in the normal activities of the Army Corp of Engineers. The Greenies wanted to reintroduce Spring flooding to the rivers by letting a bolus out in one short period. Dam management complied, ignoring the obviously huge melt that was going to occur after the heavy snows of last winter. So, the dams were not appropriately low when the melt waters hit and widespread flooding was the result.
    Then, the idiots flooded huge regions of valuable croplands to protect New Orleans residents who live below sea level. That’s just wrong—if you live in New Orleans, you deserve to take the real risk of being flooded and not be protected by the destruction of other people’s property and livelihood. New Orleans should have to pay compensation to the farmers who were flooded for such an extended time.

  28. The US infrastructure is much more threatened by neglect and a lack of investments than by any form of climate change. However good on them for throwing their hat in the ring, money spent on “climate proofing” the infrastructure is much better spent than on any other rent-seeking project that is already holding its hand’s out.

  29. “’It appears to us that more extreme weather events – like floods and hurricanes – are becoming more frequent and pronounced and we need to be prepared to adapt to the prospect that what have been episodic events in the past become chronic features of our operational landscape in the future,’ observed Craig Philip, Chief Executive Officer of the Ingram Barge Company and a member of the conference steering committee.”
    So in other words, Mr. Philip has no hard information, only the idea that ‘it appears to us that more extreme weather events… are becoming more frequent’, and wants to use this as the basis for getting money from the Federal government to make infrastructure improvements within his company. You’ve got to hand it to the man – he’d never get a bank loan with that kind of story, so he found an even better way to get money.

  30. These people are delusional: in the middle of an oil crisis with oil over $100 a barrel, they have the audacity to sit down and discuss the problems resulting from burning too much oil.
    It would be like having a conference discussing obesity in the middle of the African famine?

  31. I guess more “shovel-ready jobs” would be in order if we listened to these folks-and more windmills and high speed trains and more taxes to pay for them. The same type people have spent our money foolishly for years and now we are broke but the same types are still in control so things will get worse before some big change will happen. I am surprised that this came from Vanderbilt.

  32. Notice there is not one bit of original research regarding climate change here. It’s just one of thousands of studies which repeat the climate change mantra without adding anything new to it. Yet it will likely be hailed as another study supporting the “consensus.”

  33. The only people I don’t see holding there hand out for Climate cash is the other religions around such as Christians or Muslims. Although when one religion demands something from another religion it usually ends up in arguments.
    I also like the bollox they have asking for Trillions even Gore ain’t got them balls.

  34. There is always a sensible & logical reason for ensuring infrastructure is in a good state of affairs, e.g the levies of New Orleans that failed when hight flood water during Hurricance Katrina caused havoc. I seem to recall local engineers made that point clearly at the time. These things make sense. Upgrading highways so that they are free draining where possible, are not prone to wind-drift snows unless extreme, the water, power, & other utilites etc are also practical sensible things that should & would be done in any case. I suspect that this is just an attempt to green everything up. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ACE has been high-jacked by the green lobbyists & knowing how naive we lot (I’m IStructE, always better than those Civils chaps & chapesses) can be are too scared to tell them where to shove it! The motto of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), based in Great George Street, London, used to be “Harnessing the forces of nature for the benefit of mankind”! God alone knows what it probably is now! Probably something along the line of “Extending the hand & arm of peace & love around Gaia for a better understanding of our natural home”! Excuse me I think I’ve made myself sick……………………

  35. Reading the comments above, it seems many people are of a similar opinion to me – adaptation is the best strategy to address climate change (whatever form climate change may take). But let’s be clear about this, since we don’t know what climate change means in terms of local effects (since we don’t even know global effects beyond “change”), we should not be building things in anticipation of any particular type of change.
    Investing in infrastructure is something that should be done regardless and using climate change as as scare tactic is playing into the same WTWT scare stories we are most concerned about from the CAGW’ers. Don’t forget, climate change is simply the current tool for the anti-growth, de-development misanthropists to push their “humans are bad’ agenda.
    It might be ‘smart’ tactics to try and get something useful out of whichever scare story is doing the rounds, but this whole concept ****** me off big time and I am not going to play that game. I work in agricultural biotechnology and I am just as annoyed at people who are using climate change as the ‘hook’ to get increased adoption of GM crops. This is wrong and until we stop scaring people into doing something ‘for their own good’ we are going to be lurching from one end of the world scenario to the next with an increasingly scared population ready for the next demagogue to take over and really cause some damage (read Stalin, Hitler, Mao or Pol Pot).
    I applaud Anthony for keeping all extremist rhetoric out of WUWT and I am NOT, repeat NOT comparing anyone on either side to these demagogues. Thankfully, we seem as a society to be able to keep ourselves to little more than rhetoric (albeit sometimes rather extreme). I am just pointing out how it was that leaders such as this were able to gain power on the back of a scared population and we should be fighting against that fear, not taking advantage of it.

  36. Anyone with any sense at all knows that the future of transportation is Rail. Look at a railroad bed, now look at the DC Beltway. We need to rip up the National Highway System and bury it in every vacant Saltmine we can find. Blame Eisenhower! Anyone who’s ever been on a trolley will tell you that rail always was and always will be the road to the future. (SarcHalfOff, I really do like trains and railroads, I always have.)
    PS: Just imagine, Nuclear Powered-Electric Locomotives! That’s the way of the future! Get rid of all these cars and trucks! Bury all those Super Highways! The way of the future is old fashioned horse power and one lane, unpaved, country roads. It is! I been there. I done it! When I were a kid.

  37. “Time to begin anticipating and adapting to climate change”
    Where have they been since the late 60s. That is when I started working in a job that included anticipating and adapting to variable weather patterns A.K.A “Climate Change”. But then we just called it weather events!

  38. John R. Walker says:
    August 23, 2011 at 4:21 am
    /////////////////////////////////////////
    Too true that the UK is unprepared.
    That is one thing, but present energy policies appear aimed at exacerbating the problem with ever increasing and unaffordable energy costs coupled to unreliability with supply. If we have another couple of winters like the last two when we are say 25% dependent upon wind power, heaven help us since we shall need divine intervention if significant number of lives are not to be lost

  39. Can we round up all the Moveon.org &amp the costly green tech? Place them all in Alaska and sell it to Russia and/or China for enough trillions to cover infrastructure needs & debt? Then don’t ever let those crazy people back in…

  40. They are shamelessly seeking support from stakeholders in the freight transportation industry for climate change theory with the lure of money to repair the infrastructure. The consensus was probably not difficult with only climate change researchers to present their views on the damage caused by climate.
    Funds have continually been allocated to maintain the infrastructure and the meeting, if they had to have one and if they were interested in the transportation system, should have been why has it not been maintained. if tax dollars have not been used as intended what makes them think more money will correct the problem. And shouldn’t they first prove their case before asking for more money.

  41. This consensus emerged from a two-day leadership summit that brought together major stakeholders from the $1 trillion-plus freight transportation sector with climate change researchers to discuss the issue for the first time.

    So industry sat down with “climate change researchers” and came to the only conclusion possible with those who believe advocacy is more important, than the well being of the nation. The trucking industry should now have a sit down, with researchers with a proper skeptical approach. Otherwise we will all be caught off guard, by a climate that goes in the exact opposite direction from the one prepared for.
    I find, in general, that the correct path, seems to always be the one, that is the exact opposite to what actions the government decides is the best. I don’t know how they are able to achieve such uncanny “accuracy”. Go figure! GK

  42. If you google Mark Abkowitz, you’ll see that he’s a very politically active guy. He was appointed to a nuclear waste board by Bush Jr, and he has a book on Amazon. He’s a professional appointee, who appears to have made quite a good living out of talking about this kind of BS. Operational risk management is his speciality, which makes him kinda like an insurance salesman. His whole career is based on fearmongering to corporate leaders and government. I would be very surprised if the attendees were in broad agreement with the above summary statements. I would bet a big stack of money that the majority of attendees sat there smirking when they said this stuff. People who run big business hear this kind of stuff daily.

  43. Forget about infrastructure, I demand that the Central Government make my damn House impervious to all insults! And I want the treatment of my disease to be “free”, too.
    Washington: “Wrong on both points, fool, you aren’t getting your fair share of Dr. Feelgood’s Victory Gin until you return all of ‘Washington’s’ present and future wealth!”

  44. It seems almost certain that climate change will have a severe impact on transporation in Canada at some point, like with the onset of the next iceage. If it’s like the last one the country will be split in two by glacier at Manitoba. There are all sorts of questions for Canada about such a climate change. Will the land gained from the continental shelf be enough to sustain the country by compensating for land lost to ice? How will we connect the country with it divided? These idiots are completely incapable of addressing climate change issues. I’m shocked that a great school like Vanderbilt could sponsor something so incredibly stupid.

  45. At least this conference was focused on adaption rather than the (negative rate-of-return) mitigation approach.
    Many of the studies and discussions on the impact of climate, climate change, global warming, etc. ignore the natural cycle of upgrading and replacement of the infrastructure.
    Building codes and design standards have changed. Recent buildings are more hurricane resistant and earthquake resistant
    I realize of course that earthquakes are not related to climate change, but we face the same sort of decisions on whether to 1) live with the risk of infrastructure failure; 2) do seismic upgrades of existing structures; or 3) replace the infrastructure with new construction that is built to higher standards. Even just looking at bridges across the San Francisco Bay shows examples of all 3 responses. No one response is best for all situations.
    Artificially setting up climate change as something separate and distinct that must be responded to is a path for the waste of a lot of money.,

  46. Oh good, they have a five-year “plan”. Hmmm…. who else used to have those? No relation, of course. In their “plan” they list “Define and communicate climate change problems in terms that decision makers can understand”. Yes indeed, with Warmists it always comes down to the “communication”, by which they mean propaganda, and the “terms decision makers can understand” would be along the lines of “we’ll play ball with you if you play ball with us”. The whole “climate change” bit is nothing more than a ruse and a means for a money grab.
    “There is no reason why we should wait to get started down this path,” said Abkowitz. “As long as our approach remains flexible, we can adapt as better information becomes available.”
    Yes, when it comes to scamming people out of money, now is always better than later.
    Especially since, as they probably know, the CAGW scam is coming to an end, so they need to get their snouts in the trough soon, before it’s all gone.

  47. “There is no reason why we should wait to get started down this path,” said Abkowitz. “As long as our approach remains flexible, we can adapt as better information becomes available.”
    There you go. Fixed!

  48. “Despite the uncertainties surrounding climate change [policy(!)], it is time to start developing effective strategies that will keep the nation’s transportation systems and other critical infrastructure running in the face of the adverse impacts that seem increasingly likely to occur”
    The most effective strategy imaginable is let businesses run transport systems and other critical infrastructure with neither subsidies nor obstacles from govt. That strategy does not even need “development”, it works as it is.
    However, it is not only seems increasingly likely, that adverse impacts occur if a free ride is granted to political clowns, but it is absolutely sure.

  49. Money! Money Money Money!
    Some things never change.
    {snip snip snip snip!}
    IMHO, a 15 trillion$ debt is a far greater threat to our future than a 1 degree rise in temperature. The debt is real. 1 degree? Maybe. Down the road. Unless it cools off a bit. Spending still more $$$ we don’t have? That’s a real disaster.

  50. “There is no reason why we should wait to get started down this path,” said Abkowitz. “As long as our approach remains flexible, we can adapt as better information becomes available.”
    The weakness in this argument for action now, thought later, is that once a program is moving, like a tsunami wave at sea, it is impossible to stop. Government regulation and spending is a self-managing, self-serving organism that has strong self-preservation instincts. A program that is halted is seen as a failure by those who designed, implemented and operated it; it is a political nuclear bomb at the level of climate change rhetoric.
    The Precautionary Principle, when applied to loosing a Juggernaut the size of climate change legislation, says one thing: “Don’t.”

  51. “The bad forest fires were due to forest mismanagement and the suppression of natural burns for 40 years—a big mistake. Smoky Bear aside, the forest rangers were too thorough and now represent a largely misguided program.”
    The Law of Unintended Consequnces teaches us over and over again that nature does not reward simplistic solutions. Billions of years of evolution have conditioned life to respond in unpredictable fashion, to out compete other life. Our ignorance leads us to assume that we can predict and thus control the unpredictable. When we are accidentally right we believe in our infallibility. When we are wrong, we blame it on something or someone else.

  52. Ed Mertin says:
    August 23, 2011 at 7:29 am
    “Can we round up all the Moveon.org & [snip] the costly green tech? Place them all in Alaska and sell it to Russia and/or China for enough trillions to cover infrastructure needs & debt? Then don’t ever let those crazy people back in…”
    Mr. Mertin,
    The hate speech term [snip] that you used in your screed is a gutter low perverse sexual reference, beneath the minimum standards of any sane, educated, and moral person.
    Moderators,
    I appeal to your discretion. Simple cussing is one thing. Using extremely foul, perverted sexual slurs to demagogue should be unacceptable.
    [Agree; snipped. ~dbs, mod.]

  53. Need an economist at the meeting. If we are still talking about the future affects of AGW after 30 years of hype, then we should be looking at risk in this way: You guys gave us dire warnings in the late 80s and predicted calamity by 2000, or before. You called it CAGW. As the predictions failed miserably and things became less certain, and even cooling set in, you changed the name of the game to climate change, which is an admission that you are not now convinced of catastrophic warming and tipping points. If you are not convinced of warming then for the first 30 years you were just wrong. You can’t project from a wrong theory that “okay warming is less a concern but something else is going to happen”. Let us leave aside the gross dishonesty and imorality (shame, shame) of this climate change substitute. Had we jumped in 1988 and forked over $2T and nothing out of the normal happened as we saw, then the opportunity cost of this cash, say 7% would mean that we could have doubled, redoubled and re-re doubled that cash to $16T!! Even at 3.5% it would be worth a present day roughly $6T for no benefit. If I were now evaluating risk of severe climate change, it is now clear it is at least slow enough that we have lots of time to sit and wait to see if a troubling trend develops of the order of even IPCC’s most moderate trend.
    Now the infrastructure itself is another matter – yes we should fix up roads, bridges, airports, etc as soon as we can, but don’t undertake major seawall construction to ward off sea level rises, don’t contruct flood control that anticipates ever increasing flood numbers and levels…. Maybe cutting back on tile drainage of farmland would solve most of the problems and ensure that flood control systems in place are managed properly (recall incompetence in flood control in northern Australia and US midwest).

  54. They want to do the right thing for the wrong reason. I am all for improving infrastructure, starting with the levees in New Orleans. But to do it because a dangerous global warming is on the way is just stupid. I have proved from satellite measurements of global temperature that the greenhouse warming has not been observed for 31 years. I have also proved that Arctic warming which is real is not greenhouse warming but is caused by warm currents from the Atlantic reaching the Arctic Ocean. Read “What Warming?” available on Amazon. com.

  55. There isn’t anything objectionable in the main post. Transportation infrastructure in the US needs more money for repair and upgrading. Climate change (whether AGW or natural) may cause more costly damage, especially with increasing population densities. Better solutions are more likely to arise out of careful study than from neglect. A good balance of government programs (fuel research, financing roads and bridges, regulating pollutants of all forms) and market innovations (improved engines, improved fuel refining, improved aircraft design) will be a part of all solutions, as it always has been in the U.S.. At least some attention to the possibility of AGW is warranted.
    Of course they want $$$$. Does anyone propose that maintaining and upgrading the transportation infrastructure will be free and happen without intention?

  56. These people keep partying like its 2005. They sound like nothing more than advocates for the President’s upcoming speech about Infrastructure and Job Banks. I would like to know this: if our “infrastructure is so bad, what happened to that $500 billion Congress and Bush appropriated in the historic 2006 Transportation Bill? Better yet, what happened to the hundreds of billions of dollars the current President and Congress appropriated in early 2009 towards “shovel ready” jobs? All in all, some $850 billion was appropriated towards infrastructure since 2006. Even in 2011, $850 billion is a lot of infrastructure.
    These advocates for more government spending are a little too late to the game. We’re tapped out. We no longer have the money to play these AGW games.

  57. Ray wrote: When you adapt you survive. If the dinosaurs had adapted, they would still be here.
    They did adapt: the adapted forms are turkeys, sea gulls, roadrunners and other birds.

  58. Septic Matthew says:
    Of course they want $$$$. Does anyone propose that maintaining and upgrading the transportation infrastructure will be free and happen without intention?
    If this is only about “maintaining and upgrading”, then why all the need for the “climate change” hype and propaganda? There’$ a rea$on people lie.

  59. I guess it’s way easier to heat up the climate than to cool it down, right? With stuff like NO2 which is 3,000 times as effective as CO2 as a GHG. So here’s the plan: Adapt all infrastructure to very hot temperatures; and as soon as the temperature drops too much, quickly release a whole lot of NO2, water vapor and CO2, which would bring temperatures back up in no time. We could even do it in winter, probably even each single night. No more need for heating, for greenhouses – the atmospheric greenhouse effect will provide the greenhouse for all. The Stefan-Boltzmann Law automatically makes sure that the low temperatures will rise much more than the high temperatures, and we’ll be living in a nice warm world forever.
    Do your part! Drive an ignition engine!

  60. The Mississippi River floods in April and May, which were among the largest and most damaging recorded along the waterway in the past century, the flooding on the Missouri that began in June and the above-average wildfire season that burned 1.3 million acres in the month of June in the Southern Plains and Southwest, are dramatic examples of the kinds of natural disasters that experts predict will become increasingly severe and frequent.
    Isn’t this the standard result of a ‘La Niña’ event? What are they going to build to affect the mid Pacific Ocean temp changes?
    Vandy, isn’t that where Al G. tried to get his Divinity degree?

  61. Pascvaks says:
    August 23, 2011 at 7:07 am
    Anyone with any sense at all knows that the future of transportation is Rail…

    Not for moving people. At least, not without significant subsidies. Even during the golden age of rail, say 1890-1920, passenger service never paid its way. Freight hauling subsidized people moving. You can’t put 110,000 pounds of “people” in a train car, but you can put that much coal or iron ore in one.
    NJ Transit has new multi-level cars that seat up to 142 passengers. If they are all on monthly passes and traveling between Red Bank and New York Penn station, the per trip cost (based on 23 round trips per month and $414 monthly pass) is $9. Total revenue per car is $1,278. At a penny a pound, freight would bring in $1,100. If you where the railroad and didn’t have to deal with conductors, heating, and airconditioning, which would you rather haul?

  62. “Each year, the U.S. sustains billions of dollars in weather-related damages caused by hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires, flooding, heavy snows and drought.”
    Back in the Dark Ages, Global Warming was called GOD.

  63. I hope everyone was careful where they stepped. It’s hard to scrape “leadership” like this of your shoes.

  64. “It appears to us that more extreme weather events – like floods and hurricanes – are becoming more frequent and pronounced.”
    Intentionally dishonest, or just ignorant? See “Recent historically low global tropical cyclone activity,” Ryan Maue, 2011:
    http://coaps.fsu.edu/~maue/tropical/2011GL047711-pip.pdf
    Excerpt:
    “Since 2006, global and Northern Hemisphere (NH) TC accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) has decreased dramatically, nearly cut in half from the previous peak in 2005 to the lowest levels since the 1970s. While the annual global frequency of tropical storm TCs has not exhibited a long-term trend (~87 per year), the calendar year total of 69 observed in 2010 represented a decades’ low.”

  65. Just my two cents, but if people wanted to upgrade our infrastructure like it was needed, we had time to do this back when we were shoveling out money like crazy for “stimulus.”
    Instead this money was mostly wasted on “pointless stimulus” instead of for projects that were even talked about at this time that were deemed necessary. For instance, even Washington DC’s water pipe-lines and sewers need work. But instead we shoveled money into such wasteful projects that we see nothing from the money even 2 years later. Bridges are a “little safer” but the general issues with bridge neglect were not solved. They are still below passing grades in many cases, and how do they solve this problem? They just close the bridges down! Brilliant!
    And now climate change adapatation with a price tag in the trillions? Where do people think this money is going to come from? Money does not grow on trees last time I checked, and borrowing and increasing taxes to get more for the Fed. Gov. has consequences to the economy eventually.
    And although I think the only viable strategy IS adaptation for any kind of climate change, this does not change the fact that I think its a waste of money to throw money into “projects from increased global warming” when all indications point to us losing .3C in the next 20 years as part of a natural ocean cycle. Indeed, if the past proves correct, we will make this up with a positive .6C increase, but never once is the actually observed temperature changes the cause of why we need to act.
    Its always based on theoritical models. Come on…if you want us to spend this much money, at least PROVE why another less then a degree C of warming that we have seen since 1900 is dangerous. Models do not count. I can model anything to say anything I want, and that does not make it true.

  66. They had best “alien-proof” all infrastructure too, while they are at it Better safe than sorry.

  67. polistra says:
    August 23, 2011 at 4:32 am
    This falls into the same category as re-insurance companies heavily supporting carbon cult “research”. They’re using the “science” as an officially justifiable way to throw off liability onto other industries.
    Too bad the Italian Mafia never figured out how to use “science”; they’d be the masters of the world now instead of the Wall Street Mafia.
    There have been numerous reports that indicate that the Mob is a dominant player in the EU alternative energy field. I first came across them in a post Anthony did some time ago about solar plants that were “producing” electricity at night.

  68. “It appears to us that more extreme weather events – like floods and hurricanes – are becoming more frequent and pronounced and we need to be prepared to adapt to the prospect that what have been episodic events in the past become chronic features of our operational landscape in the future,” observed Craig Philip, Chief Executive Officer of the Ingram Barge Company and a member of the conference steering committee.
    ———–
    It appears to us you’ve been reading the wrong material and listening to the wrong people.
    The US government (including NOAA ) knows there are not more extreme weather events.
    People at this level should be smart enough and engaged enough to be aware of the failure of that premise.

  69. “Contributing to these costs is the problem of the nation’s aging infrastructure, which needs $2.2 trillion in improvements to meet today’s demands, according to the 2009 National Infrastructure Report Card by the American Society of Civil Engineers.”
    ———————————-
    Obama took $4T, that should be more than enough.
    What? Don’t tell me he pissed it away already and didn’t fix anything.

  70. Frank K. says:
    August 23, 2011 at 5:22 am commenting on…..
    “Develop better tools and models for performing risk assessments. Right now the climate models are more accurate at the global and regional scale, but they are not capable of predicting the local effects that planners need.”
    Thanks Frank K. how wrong could they get that statement!! These people seem to lack the engineers ability to identify the poor quality of the climate modelers, unless of course they are referring to the former success of climate models as sold to the gullible as a substitute for real science. This could be, because they have an agenda to sell themselves, just like the social planners, the energy sellers, the alternative energy sources and sellers, the green fringe groups, the environment adjusters, the we hate us groups, the money movers and exchangers, all jumped on the climate bandwagon.
    The problem is of course that when you start from a false premise, the rest just does not work as the unintended consequences pile up and tend to waste rather than save anything. In this case the cart is pointing the wrong way and the horse should be facing the direction of travel rather than facing the cart as any budding engineer or farmer should know.

  71. re: “more than 75 percent of natural disasters are triggered directly or indirectly by weather and climate”
    When I see statistics like that, I can’t help wondering what sort of natural disasters would NOT be “triggered directly or indirectly by weather and climate”. Volcanos, I suppose. Not to many of those in North America. Earthquakes. Even with today’s, the frequency is far far lower than for, for example, hurricanes. Meteors? What else is left?
    Of course the vast majority of natural disasters are weather or climate related. Always have been and, until we invent weather-control satellites, they always will. Missing from their analysis is any evidence that the problem is getting worse for reasons other than the equally obvious demographic trends to build more in flood plains and other high risk areas or political decisions to skimp on infrastructure maintenance.

  72. If you want to try to understand why reports of the dismal state of our infrastructure have been a constant of American life for many decades here’s a story that might illuminate the problem for you.
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/08/19/139749870/a-big-bridge-in-the-wrong-place
    “The Tappan Zee crosses one of the widest points on the Hudson — the bridge is more than three miles long. And if you go just a few miles south, the river gets much narrower. As you might expect, it would have been cheaper and easier to build the bridge across the narrower spot on the river.”…
    “There was an alternate proposal for a bridge at a narrower spot nearby. The proposal was put forward by top engineers at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
    But that proposal was killed by New York governor Thomas E. Dewey.”…
    “If the bridge had been built just a bit south of its current location — that is, if it had been built across a narrower stretch of the river — it would have been in the territory that belonged to the Port Authority.
    As a result, the Port Authority — not the State of New York — would have gotten the revenue from tolls on the bridge. And Dewey needed that toll revenue to fund the rest of the Thruway.
    So Dewey was stuck with a three-mile-long bridge.”…
    “Today, the Tappan Zee is in bad shape, and the State of New York is looking into fixing or replacing it. But none of the proposals would move the bridge to a narrower spot on the river. It’s too late now: Highways and towns have grown up based on the bridge’s current location.
    We’re stuck with a long bridge at one of the widest spots in the river. The repairs are expected to cost billions of dollars.”

  73. The infra-structure problem is not from climate change, its from the political process that sets the maintenance budgets. Simply put, new construction is sexy for budgeters, maintenance is not.
    It is more important to fix the ones about to fail tomorrow than identify the ones that might have problems in 20 years.

  74. The real problem with dollars for maintenance and repair is that the Representative, Senator, or President can’t put their name to it. Only new construction gets named.

  75. RE: CinbadtheSailor: (August 23, 2011 at 4:39 am)
    “Extreme events by there [their?] very definition have a low probability of occurring, therefore is spending a lot of money to prepare for something that will hardly happens even sensible? If we take the argument further why not build underground shelters to avoid large meteorites which someday will come.”
    Having a network of underground shelters might not be such a bad idea, but if they are only going to be needed once every 100 generations or so, then it is not the responsibility of this generation to bear the full cost of their construction. We should be thinking about potential over the horizon events, but it is not the responsibility of any one generation to bear the cost of preparing for them.
    The clock is still ticking down on the next magnitude 9+ Cascadia Subduction Earthquake, which, if it follows in sequence with the last 6 events, is due within sixty years of 2170. Maybe, by that time, there will be sufficient knowledge and legal liability arrangements to allow this impending event to be ‘forced’ to occur at a time when everyone is ready for it. But it is not our responsibility to fully develop this capacity now.

  76. Yes folks, that is their train of thought. Note that the 2nd half of their logic (‘costs are likely to increase‘) will always be true anyway, nothing ever goes down in cost in the future.

    My first 1gb hard drive cost $2500. Now I can buy a 1tb for $100. So yes, some things do go down in cost, sometimes dramatically so.

  77. Jeff Alberts [August 24, 2011 at 7:19 pm] says:
    “My first 1gb hard drive cost $2500. Now I can buy a 1tb for $100. So yes, some things do go down in cost, sometimes dramatically so.”

    Computer tech has seemingly bucked the trend with regularity. I say seemingly though because we are not talking about the same things really, new denser technologies compared with earlier is like apples and apple seeds. I should have said the same item or task will rise in price due to inflationary pressures and devaluation. Made in China versus USA alleviates this very pressure. But point taken anyway.
    It does sound like you over-payed for that 1 GB even if it was a real screamer Ultra SCSI or 15k PATA. I do remember getting PATA 2 GB for around $200-ish. Today in mid-2011, internal SATA 2 TB are in the sweet spot and run $89, and $79 is the normal price on sale. Don’t buy a 1 TB for $100 because it is relatively over-priced, and in most configurations the density is lower. Transfer speeds are phenomenal on most 2 TB. And yes, I am talking about 512 byte sectors here.

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