mercoledì 23 novembre 2016

CHAPTER 6 Unnatural Disaster: The High Cost of Taming Mother Nature - foolproog greg ip

CHAPTER 6 Unnatural Disaster: The High Cost of Taming Mother NatureRead more at location 1819
Note: 6@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ DISASTRI NATURALI Edit
Superstorm SandyRead more at location 1820
the second-costliest storm in American history, after Katrina.Read more at location 1822
Michael Bloomberg,Read more at location 1824
“Our climate is changing [which] should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.” Bloomberg acknowledged that Sandy could not be definitively pinned on global warming, but he seemed pretty convinced of a connection, as was the public: two-thirds of voters linked Sandy to climate change.Read more at location 1825
Science is relatively unequivocal that climate change should intensify hurricanes,Read more at location 1828
But climate change could not explain Sandy’s destructive toll.Read more at location 1832
it wasn’t even a hurricaneRead more at location 1832
The principal reason for Sandy’s devastating impact is that millions of productive, affluent people live and work in a place that is inherently dangerous.Read more at location 1833
Nicholas Coch, a geologist at City University of New York’s Queens College,Read more at location 1835
The first he could find hit in 1635 but left barely a trace, striking mostly Indian villages and uninhabited forest. More impressive was the Midnight Storm, a Category 2 storm that struck in August 1893 and, as Coch later documented, literally wiped a community off the map. Hog Island, a barrier island close to what is now JFK airport that hosted pleasure seekers and swimmers during the summer, was pushed beneath the sea and largely forgotten by New Yorkers until Coch rediscovered it. The Midnight Storm paled in comparison to the Category 3 Great New England Hurricane of 1938, at the time one of the most destructive storms in American history. Nicknamed the Long Island Express, it carved out ten new inlets between Fire Island and East Hampton, lashed New York City, and destroyed or inundated towns throughout Rhode Island and Connecticut. Yet even that storm did “just” $5 billion worth of damage (in 2014 dollars).Read more at location 1836
a Category 2 storm here would have as much destructive power as a Category 4.Read more at location 1844
the most developed and populated hurricane-proneRead more at location 1845
the main reason Sandy was so much more costly than its predecessors is that in the years since 1938, the New York region became significantly more populated.Read more at location 1851
Global investment banks have built towering high-tech headquarters throughout Manhattan,Read more at location 1853
Most either didn’t know they lived in the path of a hurricane or didn’t care,Read more at location 1856
This insouciance virtually guaranteed that the next time New York got hit, the price tag would be a whopper.Read more at location 1857
To those academics and risk experts who study natural disasters, neither Sandy nor its price tag was especially surprising. Just four years earlier a team led by Roger Pielke, Jr., a political scientist, calculated that another storm just like the Long Island Express would inflict $39 billion worth of damage. Karen Clark, a prominent catastrophe modeling expert, predicted damages of up to $100 billion. Importantly, this price tag didn’t require that the storm be as intense as Katrina (a Category 5, the most powerful, when it was in the Gulf of Mexico). Sandy is an example of a phenomenon routinely ignored in the barrage of news coverage of hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters.Read more at location 1857
warming climate,Read more at location 1863
Note: T Edit
climate change does play a part.Read more at location 1863
But the main reason they are getting more destructive is because much more economic wealth stands in their way.Read more at location 1864
engineers’Read more at location 1867
their success at protecting us from nature with ever more elaborate defenses often means that the destruction will be that much more devastating when those defenses failRead more at location 1868
Pielke’sRead more at location 1870
Chris LandseaRead more at location 1870
during lunch hour behind the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.Read more at location 1870
they were working on the same question — hurricane activity in the North AtlanticRead more at location 1871
contradictory conclusions.Read more at location 1872
Landsea had just published a paper documenting a steady decline in the frequency of intense hurricanes in the North Atlantic; the years 1991 to 1994 were the quietest on record. Pielke, meanwhile, was doing postdoctoral research on hurricane intensity at the request of the National Science Foundation. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 had smashed all records for the most expensive hurricane in U.S. history, just a few years after Florida had been told that its worst-case scenario was two storms costing half of what Andrew ultimately did.Read more at location 1873
1991 to 1994 was the most expensive four-year period ever for hurricane losses,”Read more at location 1877
“the reason it was the most expensive period had nothing to do with it being the most active.”Read more at location 1878
They would study some long-ago storm, then examine how the population, wealth, and settlement patterns of the affected counties had changed since, to estimate how much damage an identical storm would cause today.Read more at location 1880
Their findings were striking. The Great Miami Hurricane struck in 1926 when Miami and its surrounding county had just started to boom and the area’s population had topped one hundred thousand. Today, it is the center of a sprawling metropolitan region of more than five million, with pockets of extraordinary wealth and valuable property. Houses, condominiums, and glass-walled hotels now stand on the beaches that buffered people from the storms. The 1926 hurricane cost $1 billion (in 2011 dollars). Today, the bill would be more like $188 billion.Read more at location 1882
Note: c Edit
In February 2009 the Australian state of Victoria was sweltering through an intense heat wave when a series of bushfires, probably started by downed power lines, erupted. Driven by gale-force winds, the Black Saturday fires burned across a wide front with terrifying speed, eventually destroying 2,300 homes in the northern suburbs of Melbourne and nearby towns, and killing 173 people.Read more at location 1887
Note: c Edit
Similar circumstances help explain other disasters. Bangkok has flooded so often that it was known as “the Venice of the East.” Beginning in the 1960s Thailand rapidly industrialized and became a center for automotive assembly and computer parts production for multinationals from Japan, Europe, and America. The rice paddies that lined the Chao Phraya River were drained for industrial estates that were then ringed by dikes. In 2011 heavy monsoon rains overfilled the upstream reservoirs and caused the river to flood, topping the dikes and provoking battles in Bangkok, since protecting one neighborhood by stacking sandbags or breaching dikes would simply shift the water to another area. The 2011 Thai floods became the ninth-costliest natural disaster since 1970 in terms of insured losses.Read more at location 1895
While the vast majority of physical and social scientists agree that man-made climate change is happening, they are split on the best way to respond.Read more at location 1902
mitigation — doing whatever is necessary to reduce the level of greenhouseRead more at location 1903
adaptation, that is, accepting that climate change is going to happenRead more at location 1904
minimizing the damage.Read more at location 1905
advocates of mitigation have little patienceRead more at location 1906
Al Gore has compared adaptation to Nazi appeasement.Read more at location 1907
his father, Roger Pielke, Sr., is a meteorologist who, back in 1984, wrote an entry for the Encyclopædia Britannica predicting that steadily rising emissions of carbon dioxide would lead to a warmer planet. As the planet warms, floods should become more destructive.Read more at location 1910
Pielke doesn’t dispute the science,Read more at location 1914
What he does dispute is that climate change can explain past disasters like Sandy.Read more at location 1915
number of hurricanes and droughts shows no long-term trend.Read more at location 1916
toll of natural disasters is going up primarily because of human development,Read more at location 1916
it is more practical to deal with climate change by making cities and settlements more resilient rather than simply trying to reverse the buildup of carbon dioxide in the air.Read more at location 1917
storm damage, relative to GDP, isn’t risingRead more at location 1918
Kerry Emanuel, a climate scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, suggests that damage relative to GDP should actually be dropping, given society’s increased ability to defend against disasters.Read more at location 1920
human behavior explains the toll of natural disastersRead more at location 1927
why we put ourselves in harm’s wayRead more at location 1928
A good place to start is the Mississippi River,Read more at location 1929
the setting for an endless battle between engineers and ecologists.Read more at location 1931
The river has regularly flooded since long before Europeans settled its basin and caused the river and its delta to change shape and direction. But because it is so vital to transportation, commerce, and agriculture, Americans have been fighting to tame itRead more at location 1931
in the early 1700s built levees to contain the flooding, but these were regularly overwhelmed.Read more at location 1933
Man “cannot tame that lawless stream,” Mark Twain famously wrote.Read more at location 1934
That’s not the way the Army Corps of Engineers saw it.Read more at location 1936
Charles Ellet, Jr., a civil engineer, linked the flood problem to the growth of settlementRead more at location 1938
recommended enlarged river outlets,Read more at location 1938
Andrew Humphreys, an army captain, recommended building only levees.Read more at location 1939
The Corps went with Humphreys’s plan,Read more at location 1940
After the Civil War, the demand for civil works to accelerate the commercial and industrial development of the country led to a frenzy of federally financed leveeRead more at location 1940
Note: KEYNES Edit
canals were built to protect low-lying New OrleansRead more at location 1941
Until 1927, no levee built to the standard and grade of the Mississippi River Commission had failed,Read more at location 1943
massive floods burst the levees from Cairo in southern Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico, spreading out in a vast, yellow sea up to one hundred miles across. More than two hundred people died and seven hundred thousand — 80 percent of them black — lost their homes.Read more at location 1943
Note: x ALLUVIONE DEL 1927 Edit
Edgar Jadwin,Read more at location 1946
recommended a radical departure from levees-onlyRead more at location 1946
prompted Congress to make flood control an explicitly federal responsibility.Read more at location 1947
marriage of engineering and economicsRead more at location 1948
cost-benefit analysis.Read more at location 1948
In 1942 Gilbert White,Read more at location 1952
White came up with what became known as the “levee effect” to describe the tendency of humanity to feel protected by levees and so build up more property in their shadows.Read more at location 1953
a tendency the federal government actively reinforcedRead more at location 1955
people tended to assume that floods would never exceed their historical maximum,Read more at location 1956
An electrical generating station in Cincinnati was “constructed to operate at a flood stage one foot above the highest recorded flood of 1884, but in 1937 it was forced to halt operations by a crest that reached seven feet higher.”Read more at location 1957
Note: x ES DEL ONE FOOT Edit
In Brady, Texas, a masonry wall built to protect the business district after a 1930 flood was overtopped in 1935. The town built an earth levee three feet higher, which was overtopped in 1938. After Hurricane Betsy ravaged New Orleans in 1965, the Army Corps strengthened and expanded the region’s levees, which led to more development, which was then exposed to Katrina forty years later.Read more at location 1959
as fast as local and federal authorities could build new flood protection devices, economic development filled in the space,Read more at location 1962
levee project in Dallas completed in the 1930s led to property values more than quadruplingRead more at location 1963
The self-reinforcing cycle of flood protection and development assures that natural disasters will keep growing in scale.Read more at location 1966
We figured this would be high enough,” Melvin Fick, a farmer who was president of the Monarch Levee District, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It held real well in 1973 and 1986,” when record floods swelled the Missouri River. But in 1993, raging storms caused the Missouri River to crest six feet above the record reached in 1973, smashing a seven-hundred-foot-wide breach in the levee. The airport ended up under water;Read more at location 1973
St. Louis areaRead more at location 1978
with federal help the town has rebuilt the levee to a five-hundred-year standard.Read more at location 1980
including America’s longest strip mall.Read more at location 1981
The designer of the protection system called it a virtuous circle, where more levees lead to more development, which leads to more levees.Read more at location 1982
Levees are not a fail-safe; 70 percent of the levees under stress in 1993 failed, and extreme events can always overtop them.Read more at location 1983
Chesterfield’s increased protection will raise water levels in neighboring communities in the next flood.Read more at location 1986
“levee wars,”Read more at location 1987
The word “tsunami” first appeared in Japan in the early 1600sRead more at location 1988
Note: T Edit
the 1896 story “A Living God,” in which a quick-thinking village headman saves his village from being destroyed by an approaching wave. The story has helped shape Japanese thinking, reflecting the mentality that although they live in an inherently dangerous place, they can protect themselves by taking enough precautions.Read more at location 1989
Note: x LIVING GOD Edit
Japanese government embarked on an extensive project of building seawallsRead more at location 1992
A third of Japan’s coast was ultimately protectedRead more at location 1993
As a result, Japanese citizens felt safe living next to the water,Read more at location 1994
business felt confident enough to construct the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plantsRead more at location 1995
The Daiichi plant was originally designed to withstand a tsunami of up to ten feet high, because that was the size of the tsunami triggered by an earthquake off the coast of Chile in 1960.Read more at location 1995
much more powerful earthquakes and larger tsunamis had struck more than a thousand years earlier,Read more at location 1997
the plants didn’t stand a chance against the powerful 2011 Tohoku earthquake.Read more at location 1997
The thirty-three-foot-tall wave of black water washed through towns and swamped the seawalls protecting the power plants, disabling the low-lying diesel generators that maintained power for the reactors’ cooling systems while they were shut down.Read more at location 1998
Note: x TSUNAMI Edit
An even more extreme example is the Netherlands,Read more at location 2000
Dutch farmers first began building dikes around land reclaimed from the North Sea to create “polders” in the twelfth century.Read more at location 2001
60 percent of the country is either below seaRead more at location 2002
In 1953, a combination of a high spring tide and a severe storm over the North Sea overwhelmed dikes, flooding 9 percent of the country’s farmland and killing eighteen hundred people.Read more at location 2003
Note: x 1956 Edit
The Netherlands responded with a decades-long program of “delta works”Read more at location 2004
from Amsterdam to Rotterdam has been heavily industrialized and now provides most of the country’s economic output.Read more at location 2006
Piet Dircke of Arcadis, a Dutch engineering firmRead more at location 2007
He painted a grim portrait of the outcome if the dikes were to fail.Read more at location 2010
Half of Holland would be submerged.Read more at location 2010
“We’d have to rebuild our complete country,”Read more at location 2011
dilemma: how to reconcile economic progress with the costlier disastersRead more at location 2013
The pure market solutionRead more at location 2014
Note: T Edit
removing government subsidies for living in such placesRead more at location 2015
charging insurance ratesRead more at location 2015
The list of policies that perversely encourage people to live in harm’sRead more at location 2016
America’s federal government spends billions building and maintaining dams, levees,Read more at location 2017
The number of federal disaster declarations — which trigger federal aid equal to 75 to 100 percent of the cleanup costs — have been rising steadily.Read more at location 2018
For a long time federal flood insurance plans charged people living on floodplains premiums that were lower than the true risk associatedRead more at location 2023
Florida forbid insurers from charging homeowners premiums that actually reflect the risks of living there.Read more at location 2024
Federal and state forestry agencies spend heavily to put out wildfires that endanger homesRead more at location 2028
classic market failure.Read more at location 2029
Natural barriers such as sand dunes and mangrove swamps provide protection to everybody, but those benefits aren’t easily priced or captured by private propertyRead more at location 2029
By contrast, the economic benefit of building mansions, condominiums, and hotels with unobstructed views of the ocean are large and readily quantified.Read more at location 2030
Note: c Edit
solution would be to end all such public subsidies,Read more at location 2031
If the premium is too high, they’ll move somewhereRead more at location 2032
If they go without insurance, they don’t get bailed outRead more at location 2033
people would still choose to live in the path of floods, earthquakes,Read more at location 2034
they simply don’t expect to need the protection.Read more at location 2035
This isn’t necessarily irrational;Read more at location 2035
systematically underestimateRead more at location 2037
Howard Kunreuther, a risk expert at the Wharton School, calls this “disaster myopia,” and his colleague Robert Meyer has documented a remarkable case study. In 1969, Hurricane Camille swept the Gulf Coast and slammed into the Mississippi resort town of Pass Christian. At least eight died when the Richelieu apartment complex collapsed (although they were not, as one oft-told story had it, celebrating at a hurricane party).Read more at location 2038
When I asked the mayor of Pass Christian why people would rebuild where structures and lives had been destroyed twice in the past forty-four years, he responded: “It’s not like it comes every year. There ain’t no guarantee that tomorrow we won’t have the end of the world. Should people live in California when there’s danger of an earthquake, in the east with blizzards? You tell me where the safe place is. Life is a chance. And let me tell you something else: Water sells. Water attracts more people than it will ever [scare] off.” His observation illustrates why it is so hard to break the interacting spiral between disasters and economic development:Read more at location 2044
Note: c SPIRALE Edit
Rivers, coasts, and natural harbors facilitate trade and commerce,Read more at location 2050
cities such as New York, Amsterdam, and London.Read more at location 2051
Holland became the world’s first economic superpower because its major citiesRead more at location 2051
The plate tectonics that produce earthquakes also produce natural harbors such as San Francisco’s,Read more at location 2053
Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist, has even argued that being close to water makes people happier and calmer.Read more at location 2056
This virtually guarantees there will be more, even costlier Sandys,Read more at location 2057
The World Bank estimates that between 2000 and 2050, the number of people in large cities exposed to tropical cyclones will rise from 310 million to 680 million, i.e., from 11 to 16 percent of the world’s population. Economic exposure will grow even more, because of rising sea levels, economic growth, and urbanization. In 2005, all ten of the world’s cities most economically exposed to coastal flooding were in the rich world, led by Miami, New York, New Orleans, Osaka-Kobe, and Tokyo. Those ten accounted for 5 percent of world GDP. By the 2070s, Guangzhou, Calcutta, Shanghai, Mumbai, Tianjin, Hong Kong, and Bangkok will join the list, and exposure will equal 9 percent of world GDP.Read more at location 2058
why do people live there?Read more at location 2064
When so many people are clustered in one place, they can be protected far more efficiently.Read more at location 2065
Note: IRONIA Edit
Five centuries of violence, paralysis, and uncertainty had created in the European heart a profound desire for security,”Read more at location 2066
historian Lewis Mumford wrote of the origins of European cities.Read more at location 2067
“Sheer necessity led to the rediscovery of an important fact … the strength and security of a fortified stronghold, perched on some impregnable rock, could be secured even for the relatively helpless people of the lowlands provided they built a wooden palisade or a stone wall around their village.”Read more at location 2067
Note: x XCHÈ LA CITTÀ Edit
disasters are also deadlier in the countrysideRead more at location 2070
rescuers have more trouble reachingRead more at location 2070
In India, far more people in rural areas die in periods of extreme heatRead more at location 2071
The economic logic that draws poor peasants to cities in India does the same for highly educated professionals in the rich world.Read more at location 2079
Much of the value of cities comes from “network effects,” the increased productivity that each worker, manager, and professional derives from living, working, and interacting with others in close proximity.Read more at location 2079
difficult to dislodge a city from a position of economic strength.Read more at location 2081
Allied bombing during the Second World War destroyed more than half the buildings in the sixty-six targeted cities. While the atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima are best known, a single raid on Tokyo created an inferno that killed eighty thousand people in one night, more than Britain suffered during the entire war.Read more at location 2083
Note: x BOMB II W Edit
most of the bombed cities had fully recovered their relative size rankings within fifteen yearsRead more at location 2085
Compare lower Manhattan in 1609 to a present-day map and the first thing you notice is how much larger it is. Most of the buildings along the perimeter, from the World Trade Center to South Street Seaport, stand on land that has been reclaimed from the sea over the past four centuries. Not coincidentally, the areas inundated by Sandy correspond almost exactly to those parts of New York that are on reclaimed land. Thus, in some sense New Yorkers have been courting disaster virtually since the founding of the city.Read more at location 2090
each passing year, New York plops more precious infrastructure in the path of destruction.Read more at location 2094
Jeroen Aerts and Wouter Botzen, have calculated that in the past century, the value of buildings in New York’s hundred-year flood zone has risen from less than $1 billion to $18 billion (in constant 2009 dollars).Read more at location 2095
Bloomberg asked Seth Pinsky,Read more at location 2102
Note: ... Edit
to determine how best to protect the cityRead more at location 2103
One option Pinsky’s group considered, and rejected, was to protect the entire city with gigantic, movable surge protectionRead more at location 2105
That wouldn’t have been cheap: Jeroen Aerts reckons four barriers, at Arthur Kill, the Verrazano Narrows, the East River, and Jamaica Bay, would cost up to $17 billion. Nor would it have been foolproof: for one thing, the water the barriers would deflect has to go somewhere, and thus unprotected neighborhoods just outside the barriers would be even harder hit. Protecting those areas would cost another $12 billion, and even then some regions would be left unprotected.Read more at location 2106
Note: x BARROERE... NO Edit
An option they never considered was to simply abandon the waterfront.Read more at location 2111
apartment buildings have gone up near the water in Brooklyn and Queens.Read more at location 2114
Giving back large chunks of that space to minimize flood risk would cripple the city’s productive capacity in years to come.Read more at location 2117
“No matter how good our defenses are, from time to time nature is always going to overcome them,”Read more at location 2120
“we have to make the city more resilientRead more at location 2121
Thus, some neighborhoods will have beaches and sand dunes replenished to create natural storm-surge barriers, while buildings will be reinforced to withstand floodwater and their electrical and mechanical systems will be moved from the basement to an upper floor. Increased bus and bicycle right-of-ways will be implemented when the subways are flooded. Cities everywhere are coming to the same conclusion: rather than build ever higher defenses against inevitable flooding, they are finding ways to let the water in with as little damage as possible.Read more at location 2122
Note: x MISURE Edit
The frenzy of real estate development in Miami might seem crazy given the city’s vulnerability to a rising sea level,Read more at location 2136
Wharton’s Robert Meyer thinks it might be rational because it makes the city wealthier and thus able eventually to prepare.Read more at location 2137
If you had predicted in 2000 that New York would, in the coming twelve years, suffer a terrorist attack that killed three thousand and brought down its tallest skyscrapers, a financial crisis that toppled some of Wall Street’s most powerful firms, and then a hurricane that put huge sections of the city under water, what would you have predicted would happen to the city’s population? Probably not that it would grow by 5 percent, or nearly four hundred thousand people.Read more at location 2142
the city’s extraordinary economic pull.Read more at location 2146
Someday, New York is going to be hit by another Sandy, and chances are, it will be far more costly than the last — not because the city failed, but because it succeeded at making even more people feel safe long enough to prosper.Read more at location 2148