Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Huge cost may alter cool attitudes toward climate change

Jo Ann Blake in the Examiner: If you’re not convinced climate change is happening and that it’s going to cost plenty, take a look at a recent report by eco-economist David Yoskowitz, a professor at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi. “The Galveston-area sea level rise over the next 100 years due to climate change could displace more than 100,000 households and create more than $12 billion in infrastructure losses,” the report states. “Infrastructure” in this case means buildings only, and doesn’t include the cost of relocating roads and sewer systems.

…The report, The Socio-Economic Impact of Sea Level Rise in the Galveston Bay Area, focuses on the Houston/Galveston region and uses an economic model to assess the impact of conservative and aggressive sea level rise estimates on households, buildings, industrial and hazardous material sites and water treatment plants. It includes a scenario with a Hurricane Ike-level storm. Under aggressive sea level rise estimates, about 93 percent of Galveston County’s households would be displaced, and 78 percent under conservative estimates, the study found.

…“The increasing sea level is not going away and it will cost cities and counties that have to deal with it,” he said. The research also aims to help develop the right kind of policies to confront this global problem. In areas of increasing sea level, especially around barrier islands and in low coastal plains, households will be displaced. The topography of the mid-Atlantic seaboard is similar to the Galveston area, and Yoskowitz expects to see similar impact there.

On the mid-Atlantic seaboard, “we’re seeing two areas – right along the ocean and Chesapeake Bay where there is soil erosion and the sea level is rising,” said Jim Titus, project manager and sea level rise expert at the U.S. EPA in Washington. There is additional vulnerability because of the extreme rainfall and intense storms in the region, he said.
The rate of soil erosion could accelerate and affect homes about 30 to 50 feet landward of the dune line, he said. In fact, all ocean beach communities will be impacted and people need to think seriously about response plans….

A Galveston, Texas, house, after a hurricane around 1900.

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