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Friday Financial Five – December 19th, 2014—Congress finally approved retroactive individual tax breaks

 
 

Rob Horowitz: Two Important Developments on the Climate Front

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

 

These positive developments point the way towards substantial progress on climate change, believes Rob Horowitz.

The overwhelming consensus of the world’s scientists is that major action to significantly reduce production of greenhouse gases is needed soon if a dangerous rise in global temperature is going to be averted. This view is reflected throughout the recently released draft reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Given the difficulty of this challenge on a problem that can only be solved through the strong cooperation and at least some measure of economic sacrifice from the world’s major carbon emitters, all positive developments are welcome. I call your attention to two recent ones: last week’s US Supreme Court decision upholding the EPA’s authority to regulate smog that travels across state lines from coal plants and the rapidly dropping cost of renewable energy.

The role of the Supreme Court

Last week’s US Supreme Court decision paves the way for a continuation of the Obama Administration’s robust use of executive authority in taking action on climate change. Reducing carbon emissions from coal plants—by far the nation’s number one source of greenhouse gas—is at the center of this effort. Taken together, the series of executive actions put forward by President Obama is giving the United States new found international credibility on climate, reinforcing Secretary of State John Kerrey’s active and vocal diplomacy in advance of scheduled new negotiations to reach an international climate change agreement in 2015. With any meaningful progress on taking action on climate change stalled in Congress, continued strong executive action remains a must.

More specifically, the Supreme Court upheld the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) power to regulate coal plant emissions that create smog, which then travels across state lines to pollute the air of non-coal producing states, and they did so by a 6-to-2 vote. As the New York Times reported, this is a strong signal, according to legal experts, that the “sweeping new regulations” to reduce greenhouse gases produced by coal plants that EPA plans to issue in June are likely to withstand legal challenge. (For Rhode Island and Massachusetts, this decision brings the added benefit of significantly reducing air pollution as wind patterns consistently bring this smog generated mainly by power plants in the Midwest and Appalachian states eastward.)

Carbon-free renewable energy

An even more consequential positive development as noted by one of the IPCC draft reports is the rapidly reducing cost of carbon-free renewable energy and the stepped-up increase in production. Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases in the 40% to 70% range over the next 30 years or so as deemed essential by the IPCC will require a vastly stepped-up use of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, and even nuclear, along with greatly increased energy conservation.

The new draft IPCC report asserts that over the past several years,” Many [renewable energy] technologies have demonstrated substantial performance improvements and cost reductions, and a growing number of [renewable energy] technologies have achieved a level of maturity to enable deployment at significant scale…Regarding electricity generation alone, [renewable energy] accounted for just over half of the new electricity generating capacity added globally in 2012, led by growth in wind, hydro and solar power.”

Just as importantly, the IPCC now estimates that the cost in annual economic growth of making the transition to a mainly renewable energy sources, non-carbon polluting green energy system, would be a modest .06%. This new cost estimate is far below previous ones, reflecting the rapid drop in the cost of renewable energy.

These positive developments point the way towards substantial progress on climate change. Of course, much more must be accomplished to put us on the right path. Still, there is a basis for optimism and hope that with United States leadership this tough problem can be solved and the potentially disastrous rise in global temperatures will be limited.

 

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.

 

Related Slideshow: Natural Disasters: RI’s Most At Risk and Vulnerable Communities

The below slides show what communities are at greatest risk and most vulnerable to a particular natural disaster, such as another hurricane, or a less-common disaster, such as an earthquake or a tornado. Higher scores correspond to a higher risk and vulnerability for that community. Cities and towns are listed starting with those that have the least risk and vulnerability, ending with the most at-risk and most vulnerable. Because flooding is a particular concern to Rhode Islanders, additional information on the threat of flooding from a major 100-year storm is shown.

Scoring method

The score for each type of hazard was determined by multiplying two separate scores together: the hazard risk score and the vulnerability score. The hazard risk score was calculated by multiplying three scores together: the score for frequency (how often something happens), the score for area impact (area that would be affected), and the score for intensity (such as the depth of a flood or the wind speed of a three-second gust in a hurricane). Higher scores mean a higher risk. The vulnerability score was derived using a similar multi-layered calculation that takes into account the population size and characteristics (for example, elderly and low-income populations are more vulnerable), the economy, the environment, and the number and importance of critical facilities like hospitals or power stations. Higher scores mean a greater vulnerability.

The scores are not against any scale. Instead they are relative in nature, showing how risk and vulnerability for a natural disaster is distributed throughout the state. A community with a higher score has a greater share of risk and vulnerability than one with a lower score. Scores and method information are from 2011 State Hazard Mitigation Plan. (A 2014 updated plan has been recently released, but numerical scores are not provided for each community.) For a detailed description of the entire scoring method, see PDF pages 123 to 145 on the 2011 plan.

Prev Next

#39 Little Compton

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 160

Flood Score: 18

Earthquake Score: 60

Tornado Score: 16

Snow Score: 50

Total Score: 424

Flood Damage

Rank: 14

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,516

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 16.78%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 1,160

Number of Buildings at Risk: 187

Photo: Flickr/Al Carmadella Jr.

Prev Next

#38 Richmond

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 200

Flood Score: 18

Earthquake Score: 90

Tornado Score: 24

Snow Score: 75

Total Score: 587

Flood Damage

Rank: 24

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,945

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 11.35%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#37 Exeter

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 240

Flood Score: 0

Earthquake Score: 90

Tornado Score: 24

Snow Score: 75

Total Score: 609

Flood Damage

Rank: 36

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,190

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 5.78%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Photo: Flickr/UCL Mathematical

Prev Next

#36 West Greenwich

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 240

Flood Score: 0

Earthquake Score: 90

Tornado Score: 24

Snow Score: 75

Total Score: 609

Flood Damage

Rank: 39

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,197

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 3.62%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Photo: Flickr/born1945

Prev Next

#35 New Shoreham

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 300

Flood Score: 27

Earthquake Score: 90

Tornado Score: 24

Snow Score: 75

Total Score: 696

Flood Damage

Rank: 13

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,220

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 17.3%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 840

Number of Buildings at Risk: 20

Photo: Flickr/Al Camardella Jr.

Prev Next

#34 Foster

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 180

Flood Score: 18

Earthquake Score: 120

Tornado Score: 32

Snow Score: 200

Total Score: 790

Flood Damage

Rank: 28

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,659

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 7.94%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Photo: Flickr/US Geological Survey

Prev Next

#33 Jamestown

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 480

Flood Score: 54

Earthquake Score: 180

Tornado Score: 48

Snow Score: 150

Total Score: 1,272

Flood Damage

Rank: 20

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 766

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 11.95%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 3,910

Number of Buildings at Risk: 108

Photo: Flickr/NASA Goddard

Prev Next

#32 Hopkinton

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 600

Flood Score: 54

Earthquake Score: 210

Tornado Score: 56

Snow Score: 175

Total Score: 1,515

Flood Damage

Rank: 21

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 3,412

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 11.86%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#31 North Smithfield

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 480

Flood Score: 27

Earthquake Score: 210

Tornado Score: 56

Snow Score: 350

Total Score: 1,543

Flood Damage

Rank: 26

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,727

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 10.63%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Photo: Flickr/ilovemypit

Prev Next

#30 Charlestown

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 680

Flood Score: 144

Earthquake Score: 210

Tornado Score: 56

Snow Score: 175

Total Score: 1,685

Flood Damage

Rank: 4

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 9,276

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 34.08%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 2,510

Number of Buildings at Risk: 838

Prev Next

#29 Glocester

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 500

Flood Score: 27

Earthquake Score: 240

Tornado Score: 64

Snow Score: 400

Total Score: 1,711

Flood Damage

Rank: 34

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,271

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 6.2%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Photo: Flickr/Michael Dolan

Prev Next

#28 East Greenwich

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 720

Flood Score: 63

Earthquake Score: 270

Tornado Score: 72

Snow Score: 225

Total Score: 1,890

Flood Damage

Rank: 17

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,500

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 14.03%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 1,240

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Photo: Flickr/Sean Naber

Prev Next

#27 Scituate

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 500

Flood Score: 99

Earthquake Score: 270

Tornado Score: 72

Snow Score: 450

Total Score: 1,931

Flood Damage

Rank: 11

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 6,368

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 17.98%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Photo: Flickr/US Geological Survey

Prev Next

#26 Middletown

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 800

Flood Score: 36

Earthquake Score: 300

Tornado Score: 80

Snow Score: 250

Total Score: 2,066

Flood Damage

Rank: 37

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 499

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 5.63%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 2,012

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Photo: Flickr/Ani Carrington

Prev Next

#25 Central Falls

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 740

Flood Score: 36

Earthquake Score: 300

Tornado Score: 80

Snow Score: 500

Total Score: 2,256

Flood Damage

Rank: 16

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 121

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 14.58%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#24 Tiverton

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 880

Flood Score: 54

Earthquake Score: 330

Tornado Score: 88

Snow Score: 275

Total Score: 2,287

Flood Damage

Rank: 22

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,335

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 11.51%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 3,080

Number of Buildings at Risk: 191

Prev Next

#23 Warren

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 800

Flood Score: 198

Earthquake Score: 330

Tornado Score: 88

Snow Score: 275

Total Score: 2,351

Flood Damage

Rank: 5

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,431

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 33.99%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 7,520

Number of Buildings at Risk: 534

Prev Next

#22 Lincoln

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 740

Flood Score: 45

Earthquake Score: 360

Tornado Score: 96

Snow Score: 600

Total Score: 2,561

Flood Damage

Rank: 35

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 752

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 6.12%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#21 Narragansett

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,180

Flood Score: 198

Earthquake Score: 390

Tornado Score: 104

Snow Score: 325

Total Score: 2,977

Flood Damage

Rank: 2

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 4,224

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 39.2

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 9,030

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#20 Portsmouth

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,120

Flood Score: 216

Earthquake Score: 420

Tornado Score: 112

Snow Score: 350

Total Score: 3,058

Flood Damage

Rank: 7

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 4,238

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 26.64

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 6,530

Number of Buildings at Risk: 1,078

Photo: Flickr/Core Burn

Prev Next

#19 Smithfield

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 920

Flood Score: 72

Earthquake Score: 420

Tornado Score: 112

Snow Score: 700

Total Score: 3,094

Flood Damage

Rank: 30

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,201

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 6.74%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#18 Barrington

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 860

Flood Score: 243

Earthquake Score: 420

Tornado Score: 112

Snow Score: 600

Total Score: 3,066

Flood Damage

Rank: 1

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,417

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 40.97%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 13,890

Number of Buildings at Risk: 784

Prev Next

#17 Bristol

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,200

Flood Score: 135

Earthquake Score: 480

Tornado Score: 128

Snow Score: 400

Total Score: 3,303

Flood Damage

Rank: 8

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,745

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 26.28

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 5,330

Number of Buildings at Risk: 483

Prev Next

#16 Coventry

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,160

Flood Score: 81

Earthquake Score: 480

Tornado Score: 128

Snow Score: 550

Total Score: 3,359

Flood Damage

Rank: 38

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,147

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 5.26%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#15 Burrillville

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 906

Flood Score: 63

Earthquake Score: 510

Tornado Score: 136

Snow Score: 850

Total Score: 3,539

Flood Damage

Rank: 32

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,394

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 6.39

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#14 Johnston

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,180

Flood Score: 18

Earthquake Score: 510

Tornado Score: 136

Snow Score: 850

Total Score: 3,714

Flood Damage

Rank: 25

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,677

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 10.7%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#13 South Kingstown

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,580

Flood Score: 171

Earthquake Score: 540

Tornado Score: 144

Snow Score: 450

Total Score: 3,965

Flood Damage

Rank: 6

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 12,168

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 29.51

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 7,310

Number of Buildings at Risk: 1,315

Prev Next

#12 Cumberland

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,180

Flood Score: 117

Earthquake Score: 600

Tornado Score: 160

Snow Score: 1,000

Total Score: 4,257

Flood Damage

Rank: 23

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,098

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 11.46%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#11 Westerly

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,880

Flood Score: 189

Earthquake Score: 570

Tornado Score: 152

Snow Score: 475

Total Score: 4,406

Flood Damage

Rank: 9

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 5,604

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 26.15%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 7,120

Number of Buildings at Risk: 1,342

Prev Next

#10 West Warwick

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,480

Flood Score: 99

Earthquake Score: 660

Tornado Score: 176

Snow Score: 925

Total Score: 4,660

Flood Damage

Rank: 19

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 629

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 12.21%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#9 North Providence

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,400

Flood Score: 81

Earthquake Score: 690

Tornado Score: 184

Snow Score: 1,150

Total Score: 4,885

Flood Damage

Rank: 33

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 238

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 6.3%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#8 North Kingstown

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,760

Flood Score: 297

Earthquake Score: 690

Tornado Score: 184

Snow Score: 575

Total Score: 4,886

Flood Damage

Rank: 10

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 5,538

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 19.12%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 7,820

Number of Buildings at Risk: 850

Photo: Flickr/Jessica Merz

Prev Next

#7 Newport

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,880

Flood Score: 306

Earthquake Score: 720

Tornado Score: 192

Snow Score: 600

Total Score: 5,138

Flood Damage

Rank: 3

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,078

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 37.24%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 10,590

Number of Buildings at Risk: 993

Photo: Flickr/ChalkyLives

Prev Next

#6 Woonsocket

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 2,260

Flood Score: 99

Earthquake Score: 1,110

Tornado Score: 296

Snow Score: 1,850

Total Score: 7,835

Flood Damage

Rank: 29

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 356

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 6.95%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#5 East Providence

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 2,720

Flood Score: 225

Earthquake Score: 1,410

Tornado Score: 376

Snow Score: 2,350

Total Score: 9,901

Flood Damage

Rank: 12

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,610

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 17.37%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 7,430

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#4 Cranston

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 3,820

Flood Score: 360

Earthquake Score: 1,950

Tornado Score: 520

Snow Score: 3,250

Total Score: 13,800

Flood Damage

Rank: 27

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,541

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 8.25%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 2,330

Number of Buildings at Risk: 640

Prev Next

#3 Pawtucket

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 4,880

Flood Score: 117

Earthquake Score: 2,160

Tornado Score: 576

Snow Score: 3,600

Total Score: 15,653

Flood Damage

Rank: 31

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 392

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 6.7%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 1,150

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#2 Warwick

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 5,400

Flood Score: 684

Earthquake Score: 2,400

Tornado Score: 640

Snow Score: 2,875

Total Score: 16,799

Flood Damage

Rank: 15

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 3,923

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 16.51%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 28,760

Number of Buildings at Risk: 2,594

Prev Next

#1 Providence

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 10,980

Flood Score: 486

Earthquake Score: 5,850

Tornado Score: 1,560

Snow Score: 9,750

Total Score: 40,326

Flood Damage

Rank: 18

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,669

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 13.58%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 1,010

Number of Buildings at Risk: 481

 
 

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