The Vulnerability of U.S. Water Resources to Climate Change: From the Mississippi River floods to growing shortages in the West

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 09 May 2011 18:00:00 GMT

Speaker: Peter Gleick

Title: An update on the vulnerability of U.S. water resources to climate change: From the Mississippi River floods to growing shortages in the West

The scientific evidence supporting growing impacts of human-induced climate change on U.S. water resources continues to strengthen. Dr. Peter Gleick, one of the nation’s leading experts on climate and water, will discuss recent reports on increased precipitation intensity in North America, the Mississippi River flood events, the new Department of Interior assessment of climate and western river basins, and efforts to prepare for climate and water risks facing cities, farmers, and natural systems. He will also explore some of the adverse implications of recent budget decisions for emergency preparedness and warning systems, weather forecasting, military preparedness, and national response to extreme events.

Connecting the Dots: Flooding, Global Warming, Floodplain (Mis)Management, & National Legislation

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 09 Jul 2009 15:00:00 GMT

The United States is getting more heavy storms and major floods these days. Global warming is partly to blame for these heavy rainfall events. Warmer air simply can hold more moisture, so heavier precipitation is expected in the years to come.

National Wildlife Federation will release “Increased Flooding Risk: Global Warming’s Wake-Up Call for Riverfront Communities,” a mini-report detailing:
  • How global warming has caused more heavy rainfall events
  • America’s over-reliance on levees and other strategies for taming rivers
  • Communities that are on the frontlines
  • What must be done to confront the realities of global warming

Perspectives will be provided regarding the latest scientific research on global warming and flooding, the national flood insurance program, and recommendations for how to cope with projected changes and how to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.

Call 1-800-944-8766 pin 39227# just before 11 a.m. (Eastern)

  • Dr. Amanda Staudt, climate scientist, National Wildlife Federation
  • David Conrad, senior resource specialist, National Wildlife Federation, Conservation Programs
  • Dr. Will Gosnold, University of North Dakota, professor of Geophysics, Chair of the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering

Dr. Staudt will talk about the latest science on heavy rainfall and increased flooding risk.

Mr. Conrad will talk about what needs to be fixed in national flood insurance program, so that we don’t make the situation even worse.

Dr. Gosnold will explain why flood protection plans should take the implications of more frequent and extreme floods into account, based on his more than 20 years of studying climate change.

Contact: Aileo Weinmann, National Wildlife Federation, 202-538-5038 cell, [email protected]

WonkLine: May 8, 2009

Posted by Wonk Room Fri, 08 May 2009 14:31:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.


“Thousands more people have been forced to flee their homes as strong winds drive fierce wildfires” fueled by “temperatures in the 90s, dry air and wind gusts as high as 40 miles per hour” in California, now in a state of emergency.

“Climate change is the greatest strategic risk facing property and casualty insurers”: Studies conducted in the last few years have demonstrated that “global warming is causing wildfires in the Western U.S. to occur more frequently, last longer, and cover more ground than they did in the past,” and “more and more severe wildfires will raise insurance rates, too.”

An unusually warm spring thaw in Alaska is causing some of the state’s worst flooding in decades, with rising rivers wiping out an entire village,” forcing Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) to declare a disaster for the flooded areas and to cancel her attendance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Environmental Organizations Call For Response To Extreme Weather

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 08 Jul 2008 02:01:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

We Campaign: Extreme Weather
The We Campaign’s action alert sent yesterday to activists about the U.S. Climate Change Science Program report on global warming’s effects on extreme weather.
As the Wonk Room has reported in our Global Boiling series, scientists have warned for well over a decade that global warming will make extreme weather events like the Midwest floods and California wildfires that are ravaging the nation commonplace. However, the Bush administration has failed to mobilize the nation, instead suppressing the research and letting polluters control policymaking. Now, spurred by activists, major environmental organizations are calling for action. On June 19, Friends of the Earth led the clarion call:
The warming climate has made more extreme precipitation inevitable, and in response, the U.S. must dramatically refashion its failed flood control policies.

The world’s largest grassroots environmental organization noted that U.S. flood control policy has been misguided for decades, pointing to government panels from 1966 and 1973 that recommended “more attention be paid to relocation out of flood zones and called for greater emphasis on non-engineering solutions.” Instead, due to pork barrel spending “totally unnecessary and often environmentally destructive projects are built while those of higher priority go unaddressed,” destroying up to 95% of the wetlands of Iowa and Illinois. With global warming, policies that were once problematic are now disastrous.

On July 1, National Wildlife Federation head Larry Schweiger called on Congress to hold immediate hearings to revise the National Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act. The accompanying report from the largest environmental organization in the United States, “Heavy Rainfall and Increased Flooding Risk: Global Warming’s Wake-Up Call for the Central United States,” recommends the U.S. stop its levee-larded strategy for flood control and begin aggressive reductions in global warming pollution. Offering her thoughts and prayers to those grappling with the “catastrophic flooding in the central United States,” NWF climate scientist Amanda Staudt connected the dots:
The big picture is that global warming is making tragedies like these more frequent and more intense. Global warming is happening now. Our dependency on fossil fuels like oil and coal is causing the problem, and people and wildlife are witnessing the effects.

The We Campaign alerted its million-person list about last month’s U.S. Climate Change Science Program report on global warming’s effects on extreme weather.

Unfortunately, not all leaders are recognizing the severity of this crisis. Major news networks employ global warming deniers and industry apologists in senior positions, The Wall Street Journal publishes right-wing extremists who think climate science is a “sick-souled religion,” and the New York Times publishes stories on the future of the Everglades and the effects of extreme floods on Midwest agriculture without even mentioning climate change once.

Water Resources Development Act Veto Override On Tap

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 05 Nov 2007 18:12:00 GMT

In late September Congress sent the Water Resources Development Act (HR 1495) with veto-proof majorities in both chambers to the President’s desk. On Friday he vetoed the bill, which would authorizing funding for Army Corps of Engineers projects, including major projects for coastal Louisiana, the Mississippi River, and the Florida Everglades. This is Bush’s fifth veto of his presidency.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote tomorrow to override the veto, and the Senate will follow suit this week. Top Republicans, such as Rep. John L. Mica (Fla.), ranking member of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (T&I), and Sen. James Inhofe (Ok.), ranking member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, have vowed to help override the veto.

Rep. James L. Oberstar (Minn.) and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Tex.) issued this T&I statement:
It is simply irresponsible for President Bush to veto the only WRDA legislation that has made it to his desk since he took office. Our country cannot afford more setbacks on water resources issues and projects that are critical to our Nation’s economy, as well as to our communities.

As the experiences of the last few months have demonstrated, America’s infrastructure is in dire need. Whether the issue is bridges that collapse in Minnesota or levees that fail in New Orleans, our nation’s infrastructure has reached a critical juncture and may be on the verge of failure. How many more failures do we need before this administration understands the importance of investing in the repair, replacement, and sustainability of our nation’s infrastructure? The American people’s lives and livelihoods depend on safe, reliable, and dependable roads, bridges, levees, and navigation corridors.

Continue reading for a review of HR 1495.

Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (H.R. 1495)

HR 1495 authorizes approximately $23 billion projects and studies for the Corps of Engineers within its existing missions of flood damage reduction, navigation, environmental restoration, water supply, hydropower, and environmental infrastructure.

The following is a summary of major projects included in the conference report for H.R. 1495:
  • Authorizes the initial projects for the restoration of coastal wetlands in the State of Louisiana. Over the last century, Louisiana has lost approximately 1,900 square miles of wetlands that provide natural protection for coastal areas from the devastation of hurricane storm surges. H.R. 1495 would authorize the Corps of Engineers to reverse the loss of coastal wetlands, and provide increased hurricane and storm damage reduction for the areas so devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
  • Authorizes the Corps of Engineers to raise and enhance flood protection levees surrounding the City of New Orleans to achieve a 100-year level of protection.
  • Authorize the Corps of Engineers to make improvements to the 17th Street, Orleans Avenue, and London Avenue drainage canals that significantly contributed to the flooding of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
  • Authorizes the Corps of Engineers to close the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) that significantly contributed to the flooding of New Orleans.
  • Authorizes the Corps of Engineers to construct 7 new 1,200 foot locks on the Upper Mississippi River-Illinois Waterway System to reduce the overall transportation costs in the U.S. inland waterway system, and ensure that U.S. agricultural commodities remain competitive in international markets.
  • Authorizes the Corps of Engineers to undertake the systematic environmental restoration along the Upper Mississippi River-Illinois Waterway System.
  • Authorizes the first three projects resulting from the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and fulfill the Federal commitment to restore the Florida Everglades.
  • Authorizes the development of an emergency response plan to address the VHS virus in the Great Lakes.