Imagine what NYC & NJ might look like today if we had had a "National Adaptation and Resiliency Plan" as part of the stimulus measures passed by Congress in 2008 & 2009....
Or if that's too hard to do, here's something to help you imagine what things will look like -- over & over again, for cities spanning the gulf coast & stretching up the northeast corridor --if we don't do it now:
A national program to fund the buiding of sea walls, installation of storm surge gates, "hardening" of our utility & transportation infrastructure & the like makes real economic sense.
Not only would such a program undeniably generate a huge number of jobs. It would actually reduce the deficit!
The reason is that it costs less to adopt in advance the measures that it will take to protect communities from extreme-weather harm than it will cost in govt aid to help unprotected ones recover after the fact. Measures that likely could have contained most of the damage from Sandy inflicted on NYC & NJ, e.g., could in fact have been adopted at a fraction of what must now be spent to clean up and repair the damage.
Here's another thing: People of all political & cultural outlooks are already engaged with the policy-relevant science on adapation and are already politically committed to acting on it.
There's been a lot of discussion recently about how to "frame" Sandy to promote engagement with climate science.
Well, there's no need to resort to "framing" if one focuses on adaptation. How to deal with the extremes of nature is something people in every vulnerable community are already very used to talking about and take seriously. From Florida to Virginia to Colorado to Arizona to California to New York--they were already talking about adaptation before Sandy for exactly that reason.
During the campaign (thank goodness it's over!), we kept hearing debate about who "built that."
Everyone knows, too, that it's society, through collective action, that rebuilds communities that get wiped out by these sorts of disasters.
The question is not who, but when -- a question the answer to which determines "how much."