President Barack Obama is defending his Federal Flood Risk Management Standard from lawmakers who are seeking to either delay or soften some aspects of the standard, according to Politico. Obama’s Flood Risk Management Standard, written in 2015, is really just an update of Jimmy Carter’s 1977 directive, which was designed to ensure the safety of all federal buildings built on flood plains. Obama’s new standard has three built-in options that give agencies the choice of three approaches to building or renovating federal buildings to withstand floods.
Barack Obama has proposed that all federal buildings should be built from two to four feet above the 100-year flood elevation or if it seems more practical to build the buildings up to the 500-year flood elevation. Obama’s proposed measure would save the government billions of dollars. While upfront building costs are higher, spending over the last 18 to 20 years proves there would be substantial savings over the long run.
Flooding has taken its toll on the government’s budget. Over the past 18 years, flood damage has cost the government nearly $50 billion, over half of which went to repair public infrastructure. Since 1998, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has spent nearly $27 billion to repair flood damaged infrastructure projects. According to FEMA, every dollar spent on more flood resistance saves four dollars in clean-up and rebuilding costs.
Barack Obama also contends that better construction in higher elevations could save lives. For example, locating a school on a lower elevation could put children at risk during a flood. Federally-funded buildings could also be used as a shelter and safe haven for citizens in an emergency.
As Barack Obama battles lawmakers and the weather, he should recognize he is not alone. Europe is facing flooding problems as well this year. The Guardian reports on the UK’s increasing floods.
“During last December and January, floods in the northern half of the UK cost insurance companies £1.3bn. Bridges and roads were destroyed, hundreds of homes and businesses were inundated, and many of these are still recovering.”
The UK’s House of Commons environment audit committee admits climate change is the problem. The committee predicts an increase in extreme weather, with more frequent and deeper floods. Still, much like in the U.S., some of their lawmakers resist making adequate preparations.
Barack Obama, U.S. Senators, and Congressmen, as well as their successors, must acknowledge that the climate is indeed changing. While the causes may seem arguable to some, in the face of rising sea levels, increased flooding, and torrential storms, arguing seems futile. Experts agree the floods that impacted Central Europe are linked to climate change, which also means hotter summers and wetter and more extreme storms, according to DW.
Meteorology professor Kerry Emanuel explained, “We cannot and should not say that a particular heat wave was caused by global warming, but we can say that the probability of such an event is different today than in the pre-industrial era.”
Barack Obama is taking measures to protect the United States long after he has left the White House. His forethought could save lives and billions of dollars in the future as climate change becomes more powerful.
Warmer climates mean more moisture, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Warm air holds moisture, and when that moisture meets cooler air, it results in condensation that produces rain. Therefore, precipitation is heavier under conditions of global warming. Inversely, global warming is causing droughts in other areas at the same time. Seasonal creep is another measurable factor, showing spring temperatures arriving earlier and fall arriving later than ever before.
Barack Obama is taking measures now to protect America from future flooding disasters, which are predicted to increase.
[Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg/Getty Images]