Washington Post - In a new study, a team of scientists who specialize in studying rising seas bring the implications of their research right to the U.S.'s doorstep - calculating just how many American cities and municipalities are at risk of being flooded in the future, as well as how many may already be committed to that fate. The striking result is that millions of Americans may already live on land destined to be someday - albeit perhaps in a very distant future - reclaimed by the sea. But the number for whom this is true will rise dramatically if carbon dioxide emissions continue unchecked - or, if recent concerns about the destabilization of the ice sheet of West Antarctica turn out to be well founded. "Future emissions will determine which areas we can continue to occupy or may have to abandon," note the report's researchers, led by Benjamin Strauss of Climate Central in Princeton, N.J. Read more.
New York Times - Californians sharply cut water use this summer, prompting state officials to credit their new conservation policies and the sting of thousands of warnings and penalties that they had issued to people for overuse. But the most effective enforcers may be closer to home: the domestic water police. They are the moms and dads, spouses and partners, children, even co-workers and neighbors who are quick to wag a finger when they spot people squandering moisture, such as a faucet left running while they're brushing their teeth, or using too much water to clean dinner plates in the sink. And showers? No lingering allowed. So discovered Dick Allen, a retired businessman in San Francisco, who tells of getting busted recently by his wife. He'd just stepped into a hot shower to loosen up afte ra workout when she appeared in the bathroom to scold him. "'You've been in the shower too long,'" he recalled her saying. Read more.
Contra Costa Times - A federal appeals court on Friday blocked an Obama administration rule that attempts to clarify which small streams, wetlands and other waterways the government can shield from pollution and development. In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati put the regulations on hold nationwide until the court decides whether it has jurisdiction to consider lawsuits against them. More than half of the states have filed legal challenges, continuing a debate over federal water protection authority that two Supreme Court cases and extensive rulemaking efforts over the past 14 years have failed to resolve. The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued their latest regulations in May, drawing fierce criticism from landowner groups and conservative lawmakers who described them as costly, confusing and a government power grab. Environmentalists and other supporters said they would safeguard drinking water for the 117 million Americans while preserving wetlands that filter out pollutants, control floods and provide crucial wildlife habitat. Read more.
Washington Post - Let's face it: Climate science isn't always the easiest subject to explain to non-scientists. However, the political charge surrounding global conversations about climate change makes it all the more important to communicate the science to the general public as clearly and accurately as possible. Unfortunately, new research suggests that the world's foremost body dedicated to reviewing and communicating climate science may be falling short in this area. The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change holds some of the greatest responsibility when it comes to communicating climate science, if only because it is so high-profile and regarded as the gold standard of climate science. Every five to seven years or so, the IPCC releases an assessment report reviewing the recent research of thousands of climate scientists around the world. Each assessment report is released in a series of sections devoted to specific topics, and each sections is accompanied by a "summary for policymakers" (SPM), which is intended to summarize the findings for a non-scientific audience, particularly government officials who can use the information the help create new climate policies. Read more.
National Public Radio - There are more than 87,000 dams in America and, like most infrastructure, they go largely unnoticed - until something goes wrong. That was the case in and around South Carolina's capital this week, when at least 20 dams collapsed during catastrophic floods. The number of dam breaches was rare. But to experts who monitor dam safety in America, it wasn't entirely surprising. In its most recent Report Card for America's Infrastructure, the American Society of Civil engineers gave the state of America's dams a "D," in part because of the 4,000 dams in the country are in need of repairs - and about half of those deficient dams could cost lives if they were to fail. That's in large part because of their age. Several of the dams that breached this week in South Carolina were more than 100 years old - and they are far from exceptional. Nearly 3,000 dams across the U.S. predate the 20th century. Read more.
Washington Post - When thinking about greenhouse gas emissions, there are a few obvious sources that come to mind, such as cars or coal-burning plants. But there are also some huge natural reservoirs of carbon on Earth, known as "carbon sinks," which could pour huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere if they were unleashed. The world's forests are one major example. Trees store large amounts of carbon while they're alive - but when they die, they release all that carbon back into the atmosphere. So as concern over global climate change continues to grow, preserving the world's forests is also becoming a greater priority. And perhaps no area has posed more concern for scientists than the Amazon rain forest. While the Brazilian government, in particular, has taken major steps to cut down on agriculture-related deforestation in the Amazon, climate change itself has become a serious threat to the trees. Read more.
Port Strategy - US East coast ports are going deep, but it's not all about the depth of water on offer, explains Martin Rushmere. With Norfolk, Virginia the latest US port to receive unofficial approval from the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the main channel from 50 feet to 55 feet, East Coast ports are literally in a race to the bottom. The puzzle lies in finding just how deep the bottom is. Seven ports are competing in the 50-55 foot range to the point that the question now being asked is whether they are overextending themselves. The answer is cloudy, with analysts and the ports themselves saying there is no choice. Two other growth opportunities are occupying the minds of port planners: transloading and transhipment, plus port alliances, a growing trend to reduce costs. But along with these is the realisation that current talk of long-term 10% shift in traffic from West to East Coast ports because of the widened Panama Canal is misguided. Read more.
Los Angeles Times - Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill to require the Salton Sea Authority, working with the Natural Resources Agency, to study projects to restore parts of the rapidly shrinking Salton Sea, a huge and troubled body of water considered a health menace. The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), requires the Natural Resources Agency to submit to the Legislature by March 31 a list of "shovel-ready" projects, including information about potential costs and timeline for completion. As the sea has shrunk, exposing previously submerged areas, toxic dust storms have increased in the Coachella and Imperial valleys, a rotten-egg smell has drifted to much of coastal Southern California. The Pacific Institute, an Oakland-based environmental study group, has warned that the region faces an environmental catastrophe if the sea continues to disappear. Read more.
San Diego Union-Tribune - Solana Beach and Encinitas are expected to sign off Wednesday on a a 50-year federal sand replenishment project that would widen beaches and protect crumbling bluffs, where continued erosion could threaten people and property. The plan - put forth by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - has been in the works for more than 15 years, but in recent months has been modified to move less sand and increase monitoring to address the concerns of environmental groups such as the Surfrider Foundation. "We've actually gotten to a point with the project where we are happy," said Julia Chunn-Heer, policy manager for the San Diego chapter of Surfrider. Read more.
United States Army - Predicted rises in sea levels triggered by climate change threaten millions of people and could inflict billions of dollars in property losses and economic damage, particularly in the Bay Area where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering options for protecting densely populated areas of the coastline including critical infrastructure such as the region's major airport and much of Silicon valley. Global climate change, which experts warn is causing oceans to warm and triggering extreme weather, could push California sea levels up by as much as three feet over the next 50 years, according to NOAA estimates, leading to an increased risk of coastal flooding. The California Climate Change Center estimates that sea levels have already risen eight inches along the coast over the past century. Read more.
East Hampton Star - The United States Army Corps of Engineers, which had set Monday as the start date for construction of a wall of sandbags across the downtown Montauk ocean shore, told a federal court judge on Thursday that it is reassessing the area to determine "whether there have been additional erosion issues," and that construction has been pushed back until Thursday at the earliest. The Corps, along with the East Hampton Town and New York State, had been ordered to appear before the court on Friday as Judge Anne Y. Shields of Eastern District Court considered a request by a group of East Hampton Town residents suing to stop the project for an injunction preventing the start of the reinforced dune construction. Read more.
The Post and Courier - The storm flew in from the ocean like an invading force, picking up fuel in the warmth of the Gulf Stream, then zeroing in on the South Carolina coast. The skies over Charleston darkened; the tides swelled. And then the clouds, laden with moisture, released their loads, one rain bomb after another, turning streets into rivers, turning swaths of South Carolina into disaster areas. Welcome to the present, welcome to the future. Last week's storm unleashed a massive amount of water and disruption. Twenty-tree inches fell on peninsular Charleston alone, roughly equivalent to 3.2 billion gallons of water- more than what pours over Niagara Falls in an hour. While public officials dubbed the storm a 1,000-year event, scientists warn that global warming will only send more rain bombs our way. Read more.
New Jersey 101.5 - After Irene, Sandy and last weekend's storms, New Jersey knows something about powerful storms and massive beach erosion. The state does have a Beach Erosion Commission, but the commission hasn't met since 2001. Recently, one state lawmaker called on the panel to be reactivated and to meet immediately. "Considering the events that we've had, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irene and now this last event I think it shows a glaring need to reconvene this commission," said Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi (R-Vineland). The assemblyman said that he wondered why there wasn't some sort of government body looking into beach erosion. His staff researched it and found out about the dormant commission. Currently, there are no scheduled meetings and that's probably because the commission doesn't have any members. Read more.
Miami Beach Resiliency Officer: 'There are probably not enough resources' to confront sea level rise in city
Fusion - Last month, Susanne Torriente, previously the assistant city manager for the city of Ft. Lauderdale, was named chief resiliency officer for the city of Miami Beach, which has basically become ground zero for the consequences of climate change in the United States. At risk is the city's multi-billion dollar real estate and tourism industry, not to mention a permanent population of approximately 100,000. Regular flooding is already a problem across the city's main business district. On top of that is a disregard for the problem on the part of the state's leaders. Gov. Rick Scott has been accused of banning the terms "climate change" in discussions of the state's environmental agenda, and despite repeated pleas the state has allocated almost no resources for helping the city address sea level rise. Read more.