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Highlights: The Bridge on October 22nd – Policy and Impact of Climate Change and Rising Seas

On October 22nd at 11 am on WJLA; and 6 pm on News Channel 8 Host of The Bridge Jim McCarthy spoke with Ann Phillips, Rear Admiral (Vice Commander), U.S. Navy (Ret.) and Dale Morris, Senior Economist, Embassy of the Netherlands about planning for and managing rising sea levels. Questioning…what steps should be taken to best prepare ourselves for the ever-present threat?

Jim McCarthy: Admiral Phillips, Why don’t you tell us from your perspective, the nature of the risks, and what keeps you up at night, so to speak.

Admiral Phillips: Well, the unique challenge of sea level rise is it comes and never leaves. The challenge is as we move forward in the future we have to completely change the way we think about flood risk management because that’s completely based on historical data. We need to start basing this on projected flood data. Projected flood planes which not only can be higher but wider will require special care with what kind of buildings are erected and what kind of infrastructure is developed in these areas. Not to mention the need for special flood insurance.

Jim McCarthy: There are those who say, in a way, Houston should have been aware of the risk and planned better so the results of the aftermath were not quite so tragic or severe. What would be your reactions to such a statement.?

Dale Morris: I disagree, the fact of the matter is no city in the world can deal with 51 inches of rain, in 80 hours, end of story. Could they have done better long-term planning, yes they could have and are trying to. The issue is the constraint on resources and some of the planning processes that Texas and city of Houston had. The opportunity now is to change and improve. This is what the Dutch are trying to do with our tidewater region. Yes, it was a major disaster but we have the opportunity to work together.

Jim McCarthy: We often hear about the human damages associated with these kinds of events, but you mentioned earlier this also is often an issue of national security as well, talk about that a little.

Admiral Phillips: Well, take Hampton Roads for example. Arguably the largest concentration of DOD and Federal facilities outside of the DC area. Twenty-nine Federal entities are represented, two-thirds are DOD and three-quarters of those are Navy. We have unique facilities, arguably the largest naval base in the world, we have the only carrier construction facility, the only carrier refueling facility, and one of only two submarine construction facilities in the country…lots of DOD presence in the region. A region heavily impacted by sea level rise. The challenge is to maintain the force’s ability to man, train, and equip in that region– and not to mention their families who live there, the businesses that support them and many other people in the Hamptons region that work on these facilities.

Jim McCarthy: Plus some of those impacts spread across the country, isn’t that also a thought?

Dale Morris: They do. For instance, Harvey hit Houston not too long ago. What we need to realize is 40% of all Jetfuel and 70% of all military fuel is produced in Galveston Bay. If that area floods, we have a national economic as well as a national security challenge. We’re all paying 35 cents more for gas, because of Harvey. So it isn’t just a local impact there is a national impact.

For more information about The Bridge, check: http://thebridgeontv.com/ or stream the episode HERE (https://vimeo.com/238938689)

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