Our warming planet: We need tougher building codes, better roads for climate change’s future
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Dec 26, 2012 | 3222 views |  0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Science cannot conclusively tell us if the Christmas Day outbreaks of violent weather that touched Alabama and other parts of the Southeast are directly attributed to global climate change. However, science is on firm ground when it notes that more weather extremes — like what we saw Tuesday — will be a byproduct of a warming planet.

“The answer to the oft-asked question of whether an event is caused by climate change is that it is the wrong question,” Kevin E. Trenberth, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., told the Los Angeles Times. “All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be.”

Per usual for our times, the policymakers are behind the curve on this big issue. Enough money and influence has entered Washington to keep afloat the argument that there’s still a debate over climate change and the role played by humans. In truth, that debate is over, and the vast majority of climate scientists have moved past diagnosis to what we might label treatment.

One weapon in the arsenal is reducing the carbon footprint left by human activity. The ideas to reduce carbon dioxide emissions are no longer new. The political will to accomplish them with speed and urgency seems like a distant goal, as this month’s climate-change summit in Doha, Qatar, displayed. As The Economist so succinctly put it, “The meeting brought no new agreement to limit the greenhouse-gas emissions that are set to warm the world still more, and no deal on new funds to help poor countries adapt. Yet the delegates left with some achievements that could, in time, come to matter.”

In other words, a solution … for a future era.

The second strategy is more practical, accepting of the planet’s fate that temperatures have risen to the level that ever-intensifying super-storms are a foregone conclusion. If that’s the case, we’ll need tougher building codes, especially for structures near the U.S. coastline. Sturdy storm shelters will no longer be a convenient luxury, but an item of necessity for areas especially vulnerable to tornadoes. We’ll need to shore up roads to carry massive amounts of people away from storm damage or construct facilities to house them while they recover.

As parts of the New York area rebuild after Superstorm Sandy, leaders there are looking at strategies to prepare for the next big storm.

“Whether or not one storm is related to climate change or is not, we have to manage for risks, and we have to be able to better defend ourselves against extreme weather and natural disasters,” says Michael Bloomberg, New York’s mayor.
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