Posts Tagged ‘The Real World’

Well, here’s a new development — one we’ll no doubt see more of in the future. Farmers Insurance Company is suing Chicago-area municipal governments in response to claims stemming from April 2013 flooding.

Now a major insurance company is suing Chicago-area municipal governments saying they knew of the risks posed by climate change and should have been better prepared. The class-action lawsuits raise the question of who is liable for the costs of global warming.

Filed by Farmers Insurance Co. on behalf of itself, other insurance companies and customers whose property was damaged by the surge of storm water and sewage overflow, the lawsuits allege the governments of Chicago-area municipalities knew their drainage systems were inadequate and failed to take reasonable action to prevent flooding of insured properties.

“During the past 40 years, climate change in Cook County has caused rains to be of greater volume, greater intensity and greater duration than pre-1970 rainfall history evidenced,” a fact that local governments were well aware of, a suit filed in Cook County, Ill., alleges, citing a climate change action plan adopted in 2008 that acknowledges the link between climate change and increased rainfall.

The suits also say the localities knew their drainage systems weren’t up to snuff because the regional water management authority had published plans in 2011 detailing various defects.

Knowing the risks, they argue, local governments should have increased their storm water storage capacity. Furthermore, the suits allege they were negligent in failing to take temporary measures in the days before the storm, such as deploying water-inflatable property protection systems to mitigate damage.

While the deniers live in Rubio-land, the rest of us have to deal with the real world.

So while conservatives compete with each other to see who can be Dumb & Dumber when it comes to climate change, the rest of us have to deal with reality.

Clear skies above but water below, a woman on a moped navigates a flooded street corner on Miami Beach, an all-too-familiar sign for residents of this iconic peninsula where the ocean seems more likely than ever to swamp Ocean Drive one day.

If there’s an image that starkly illustrates the threats of climate change, it’s this photograph, which was included in the recent National Climate Assessment released by the White House. It is noteworthy because the flood is from exceptionally high spring tides – not heavy rains. Tidal flooding like that is relatively new. And scary. “People in Miami Beach are living climate change,” said David Nolan, a meteorology and physical oceanography professor at the University of Miami. “They’re on the frontline.”

The people of Miami Beach didn’t need the National Climate Assessment to tell them low-lying south Florida is “exceptionally vulnerable to sea level rise”. The city is already spending $206m to overhaul its drainage system.

The day after the White House released its climate change report, Miami-Dade County’s commission passed a 6 May resolution that calls on planners to account for sea level rise. Local officials across the four counties of south Florida are making similar moves. Almost anyone who lives in south Florida has a nagging fear about climate change. It’s both abstract and, at times, very real.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Chait writes about President Obama’s dilemma when it comes to the new Environmental Protection Agency rules he will announce in a few weeks regulating carbon emissions.

The best way to think of the dilemma is keeping in mind the three things Obama wants his regulations to accomplish: He wants them to effectively reduce carbon pollution, he wants them not to cost consumers too much, and he wants to be sure they can survive legal challenge. The trouble is that he can only pick two of these. And the primary question weighing on administration regulators as they make their decision will be how to read the mind of Anthony Kennedy.

No matter what he decides, conservatives will scream and shout in protest, in part because their overarching strategy is to oppose any Obama initiative and deny him any accomplishments. It’s a helluva way to run a government.