These events tell us we’re not prepared. We have built our cities, our communities, to a climate that no longer exists. — Alice Hill, David M. Rubinstein senior fellow for energy and the environment at the Council on Foreign Relations
These events tell us we’re not prepared. We have built our cities, our communities, to a climate that no longer exists. — Alice Hill, David M. Rubinstein senior fellow for energy and the environment at the Council on Foreign Relations

And to the country, the past few days of Hurricane Ida and the wildfires in the West and the unprecedented flash floods in New York and New Jersey is yet another reminder that these extreme storms and the climate crisis are here. We need to do — be better prepared. We need to act. — President Joe Biden
And to the country, the past few days of Hurricane Ida and the wildfires in the West and the unprecedented flash floods in New York and New Jersey is yet another reminder that these extreme storms and the climate crisis are here. We need to do — be better prepared. We need to act. — President Joe Biden

We’re feeling all the effects of that deferred maintenance. If we already can’t cope with where we are, then there’s little hope that it’s going to improve in a warming climate. — Kristina Dahl, a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists
We’re feeling all the effects of that deferred maintenance. If we already can’t cope with where we are, then there’s little hope that it’s going to improve in a warming climate. — Kristina Dahl, a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists

Overlapping Disasters Expose Harsh Climate Reality: The U.S. Is Not Ready
The deadly flooding in the Northeast, on the heels of destruction from Louisiana to California, shows the limits of adapting to climate change. Experts say it will only get worse.

In Louisiana and Mississippi, nearly one million people lack electricity and drinking water after a hurricane obliterated power lines. In California, wildfire menaces Lake Tahoe, forcing tens of thousands to flee. In Tennessee, flash floods killed at least 20; hundreds more perished in a heat wave in the Northwest. And in New York City, 7 inches of rain fell in just hours Wednesday, drowning people in their basements.

Disasters cascading across the country this summer have exposed a harsh reality: The United States is not ready for the extreme weather that is now becoming frequent as a result of a warming planet.

“These events tell us we’re not prepared,” said Alice Hill, who oversaw planning for climate risks on the National Security Council during the Obama administration. “We have built our cities, our communities, to a climate that no longer exists.”

In remarks Thursday, President Biden acknowledged the challenge ahead.

“And to the country, the past few days of Hurricane Ida and the wildfires in the West and the unprecedented flash floods in New York and New Jersey is yet another reminder that these extreme storms and the climate crisis are here,” said Mr. Biden, who noted that a $1 trillion infrastructure bill pending in Congress includes some money to gird communities against disasters. “We need to do — be better prepared. We need to act.”

First, governments have not spent enough time and money to brace for climate shocks that have long been predicted: everything from maintaining and fortifying electrical lines and storm water systems to clearing forests of undergrowth in order to reduce the ferocity of wildfires.

“We’re feeling all the effects of that deferred maintenance,” said Kristina Dahl, a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

But there’s a second, more sobering lesson: There are limits to how much the country, and the world, can adapt. And if nations don’t do more to cut greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change, they may soon run up against the outer edges of resilience.

“If we already can’t cope with where we are, then there’s little hope that it’s going to improve in a warming climate,” Dr. Dahl said.

... Across the continental United States, the heaviest downpours have become more frequent and severe, according to the federal government’s National Climate Assessment. The Northeast has seen 50 percent more rainfall during the heaviest storms compared with the first half of the 20th century.

New York City is particularly vulnerable to flooding. Three-fourths of the city is covered by impervious surfaces like asphalt, which means runoff is channeled into streets and sewers rather than being absorbed by the ground.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/02/climate/new-york-rain-floods-climate-change.html