Why people choose to stay in areas vulnerable to natural disasters
Journalist’s Resource | Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy
By Chloe Reichel
June 18, 2018

By showcasing some of the major issues journalists face when covering communities that are considering or in the midst of retreat, this piece covers the human angle of climate change research, and discusses how to move from “doom and gloom” to motivating informed individuals.

Read the full piece here.

The dirty word in South Florida’s watery future: retreat
Jeff Goodell
South Florida Sun Sentinel
June 17, 2018

This opinion piece covers the “un-American” reputation of retreat in fast-growing metropolitan regions such as in the Miami area, and how politically problematic the issue can be when all other civic discourse focuses on growth, expansion, reliability and resilience. The piece also references a study by Mathew Hauer, on the geographic implications of climate-induced migration patterns, that can be found in our Reports section.

Read the full piece here.

Hawaii Gets Explicit about Sea-Level Rise
Jared Brey
Next City
June 14, 2018

Hawaii now requires that all future developments include sea-level rise analysis as an explicit part of their environmental impact statements. This could perpetuate ongoing trends of developers focusing further inland, even as the market still deems waterfront property highly valuable.

Read the full piece here.

How will people move as climate changes?
Earth Institute, Columbia University
June 14, 2018

This piece reports on a new study published by the journal Environmental Research Letters that tries to create a better model for predicting the number of so-called “climate migrants” in the near future, and where they may go. Focusing the study on Bangladesh, where an estimated 2 million people could be displaced by 2100 due to “permanent inundation by rising sea levels alone”, the authors of the study integrated climate impacts into a preexisting, “universal” model for human mobility. Pointing to the regional urban impacts of climate change, their study expresses the inevitable role larger cities will play in accommodating climate risks.

Read the full piece here.

U.S. Cities Need to Plan for an Influx of Internal Climate Migrants
Victoria Herrmann
Scientific American
June 6, 2018

This opinion piece makes the case for cities anticipating the stresses of migration, both in and out, due to climate change. Major cities often become the destination for populations forced out of other communities due to disasters or imminent climate risks, stressing public resources, while those that directly face those risks may need to include a coordinated exit strategy alongside climate adaptation measures.

Read the full piece here.

The Places in the U.S. Where Disaster Strikes Again and Again
Sahil Chinoy
The New York Times
May 24, 2018

By mapping the areas hit most frequently by natural disasters in the U.S., this piece questions the use of federal funds for rebuilding these areas, time and time again. The vast majority of losses from natural disasters occur in areas that account for less than 20 percent of the U.S. population. A series of infographics show the costs of the destruction, and timelines of the disasters.

Read the full piece here.

Buying out 400 Crescent Beach homes an option for Surrey as sea levels rise
CBC News
May 23, 2018

An interview with city engineer for Surrey, B.C., places managed retreat as the most prudent option for the community, which is projected to experience flooding of more than 6 feet due to sea level rise. While not necessary for a few decades yet, engineer Matt Osler believes it’s the best option economically and sustainably for the town, with the area eventually being turned into a wetland.

Read the full piece here.

Assessing Exposure to Climate Risk in U.S. Municipalities
Nik Steinberg
Four Twenty Seven
May 22, 2018

Four Twenty Seven, a “market intelligence and advisory firm specialized in the economic risk of climate change”, has created their own local climate risk score to try and identify the areas most at-risk. It also considers “economic sensitivities” that could intensify vulnerability to climate hazards, as a factor to consider for municipal credit analysis. According to 427, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida are the most at-risk of hazards related to sea level rise, with the California Bay Area and Pacific Northwest also ranking as “highly exposed”.

The report detailing their process and outcomes can be found in our Reports section.

Read the full piece here.

If You Can’t Censor It, Bury It: DOI Tries to Make a Stark New Study on Rising Seas Invisible
Adam Markham
Union of Concerned Scientists blog
May 21, 2018

A report by the National Park Service, projecting the impact of future sea levels and storm surges on 118 US national parks, became the subject of controversy prior to its publication due to proposed deletions of references to humanity’s causal role in climate change. The potentially deleted bits were restored for final publication, but only after DOI Secretary was questioned about it during a House Appropriations subcommittee. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the report was also published with little publicity — no press release or official announcement was issued, and the Union contends that there is “no easy way to find it unless you know where to look”. The report details landmarks that are at-risk due to rising seas — for more information, you can find the full report in our Reports section.

Read the full piece here.

Norfolk Wants to Remake Itself as Sea Level Rises, but Who Will Be Left Behind?
Nicholas Kusnetz
Inside Climate News
May 21, 2018

Norfolk, Virginia has some of the most flood-prone areas in the U.S., with sea level rise rates about twice the global average, coming in at 6 inches in the last 25 years. It’s also home to the country’s largest naval base, and most of the city rests no more than 15 feet above sea level. To try and build out of their vulnerable position, the city is considering a holistic master plan that integrates climate adaptation with economic development, and focuses on turning the city into a tech hub for future coastal solutions. Some are also concerned that development will leave lower-income residents behind, as some neighborhoods may inevitably be left to the rising sea.

Read the full piece here.


Del Mar considers unpopular 'planned retreat' strategy due to rising sea level
Phil Diehl
Los Angeles Times
May 20, 2018

Homeowners in the beachfront community of Del Mar, California, where properties can sell for over $5 million, are hesitant to consider managed retreat options, despite the California Coastal Commission’s requirement that cities have an adaptation plan for sea level rise that includes managed retreat as an option. Insistent that the city has an obligation to protect their properties from rising seas, many homeowners prefer other adaptation strategies such as beefing up the seawall and sand replenishment — however, if the city doesn’t also consider retreat, the Commission could refuse to allow the city to fund these alternatives. Moving forward, the city has decided to treat retreat as the last option of many.

Read the full piece here.

'Valued at zero': WA coastal dwellers face financial ruin as sea rises
Emma Young
WA Today
May 9, 2018

The Shire of Gingin, a coastal community in Western Australia with an eroding coastline, is facing a difficult future of near-obligatory managed retreat. State policy nearly dictates retreat as a necessary response to coastal erosion, and while funds may be available for acquiring residents property, relocating them is likely not on the bill.

Read the full piece here.

‘Managed retreat’ long-term approach to erosion
Murray Robertson
Gisborne Herald
May 8, 2018

Facing debilitating erosion along the coast, the New Zealand beachfront community of Wainui has concluded that the only viable solution is managed retreat. While the infrastructure administrators in the town seem set on retreat, there isn’t yet a plan in place for how to actually do so.

Read the full piece here.

America’s Last-Ditch Climate Strategy of Retreat Isn’t Going So Well
Christopher Flavelle
Bloomberg News
May 2, 2018

Retreat was set into motion in Sidney, NY seven years ago, after two particularly disastrous floods convinced many residents that rebuilding wasn’t simply a reliable option. Since then, despite a community willing to be bought out and the federal funds to do so, things have progressed slowly and unreliably. Residents becoming increasingly frustrated by their perceived lack of a coherent structure to federal retreat proceedings, especially as they see the community hemorrhage homeowners as some can no longer wait out the retreat process.

Read the full piece here.

Scary climate change scenario for Asia-Pacific
Rudy Romero
Manila Standard
May 1, 2018

A joint report issued by the Asian Development Bank, a major financier of rebuilding efforts post-disaster, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research anticipate immense pressures on housing and migration in Asian and the Pacific, due to increased hazards from climate change. This piece lays out some of its main points in reference to the Philippines; the whole report can be found in the Reports section.

Read the full piece here.

Forced to Move: Climate Change Already Displacing U.S. Communities
Benjamin Goulet
April 26, 2018

This piece contextualizes two retreating communities in the U.S. — Shishmaref in Alaska and Isle de Jean Charles in Louisiana — within the global context of climate-related retreat events, such as migration between African countries provoked by drought.

Read the full piece here.

North County Report: Coastal Commission Says No Walking Back From Managed Retreat
Ruarri Serpa
Voices of San Diego
April 18, 2018

This piece provides brief updates on how the cities of Carlsbad, Oceanside and Del Mar are enacting forms of managed retreat policy. Del Mar, for example, was compelled by the California Coastal Commission to include managed retreat as an option in its coastal planning, or could otherwise “lose local control of development". This accompanies property owners fretting that merely mentioning the words “managed retreat” would compromise property values.

Read the full piece here.

Want to Fight Sea Level Rise? Look to San Francisco’s Ocean Beach
Matt Simon
April 11, 2018

San Francisco’s Ocean Beach is slowly eroding thanks to sea-level rise, threatening the loss of the beloved public space as well as encroaching upon a nearby highway. In order to maintain the use of the space and adapt to higher sea levels, the city is trucking sand back onto the beach and planning to convert half of the highway into a trail. These tactics are a small step in a constantly evolving, longer term retreat plan for the beach.

Read the full piece here.

Crunch time for homeowners in Whanganui's flood-prone Anzac Parade
Laurel Stowell
Wanganui Chronicle
April 3, 2018

Horizons, a regional council in New Zealand, has adopted a ten-year plan to combat flooding that includes managed retreat as a proposed option. Retreat would be voluntary, with homeowners able to either have their home moved (within Horizons’ allowance) or razed. To pay for it, they’ve proposed starting a “retreat fund” of $50,000 for its first year. Whatever precise decision is made about retreat would have to be the same adopted throughout the entire region.

Read the full piece here.

This Entire Island May Have to Be Raised Up to Counter Rising Sea
Anne C. Mulkern (E&E News reporter)
Scientific American
March 29, 2018

By 2050, the residents of picturesque Balboa Island in southern California stand to face chronic flooding of more than a foot. Plans for a higher sea wall are in the works, but only as a short-term solution. In the long term, projections are dire enough that a plan is currently being developed to physically lift the island by anywhere between 2 to 4 feet by 2100 — homes, streets and sea walls included. In the relatively conservative region, local governments are hesitant to discuss climate change outright, while residents fear that their property values will suffer from adaptations.

Read the full piece here.

Houston Speculators Make a Fast Buck From Storm’s Misery
Simon Romero
New York Times
March 23, 2018

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, some Houston residents are trying to flip storm-damaged homes in areas literally developed to flood. This piece from the New York Times focuses on the suburb of Canyon Gate, built in an Army Corps of Engineers reservoir during the 1990s, meaning that “nearly every one of the 721 homes there is destined to flood again”. Ironically, the area is not considered part of FEMA’s 100-year floodplain, so flood insurance isn’t required. Banking on Houston’s recovery, flippers are able to resell to investors looking for a cheap buy-in, although perhaps not fully aware of the high risk of more flood damage. The speculative environment has also caused some strife within the community of Canyon Gate.

Read the full piece here.

Wave of Climate Migration Looms, but It “Doesn't Have to Be a Crisis”
Andrea Thompson
Scientific American
March 23, 2018

A recent report released by the World Bank predicts that by the middle of the 21st century, more than 140 million people will have to resettle somewhere in their home country due to climate change. Focused on the regions of sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia and Latin America, the report’s prediction is based on continuing trends of global warming and migration.

Read the full piece here.

State is buying Isle de Jean Charles relocation site for $11.7 million
Mark Schleifstein
NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
March 20, 2018

The fewer than 100 residents of Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana have the somber distinction of being “the first community in the nation to receive federal assistance to retreat en masse from the effects of climate change.” After receiving millions from the National Disaster Resilience Competition to help relocate the entire community to higher ground, a new site has finally been purchased to house them — for $11.7 million, 515 acres in Terrebonne Parish will become the new home for Isle de Jean Charles. Before they move in 2019 though, residents will have to last through potentially two more hurricane seasons and persistent flooding due to erosion, subsidence and rising sea levels.

Read the full piece here.

Climate Change Could Force Over 140 Million to Migrate Within Countries by 2050
World Bank
March 19, 2018

The report identifies "hotspots" of migration due to climate impacts in three major developing regions: Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. Without decisive action in these areas, over 140 million people could become "climate migrants" by 2050 — however, that number could be reduced by nearly 80 percent through a coordinated planning approach.

Read the full report here.

Running from the sea: How mass relocation could save coastal communities video
Dominic Harris
March 2, 2018

Ex-tropical cyclones Fehi and Gita hit New Zealand in February, making some residents in the communities of Westport, Granity and Hector question their futures on the remote coastline. As some face the question of leaving, others double down and refuse to ever leave. While the potential for managed retreat has been posed, coordinated funding and action among national, local and community-based leaders isn’t fully clear, leaving residents in a lurch.

Read the full piece here.

Left to Louisiana’s Tides, a Village Fights for Time
Tristan Baurick, Kevin Sack, Mark Schleifstein, John Schwartz, and Sara Sneath
New York Times and NOLA.com | The Times Picayune
February 24, 2018

Lafitte, just south of New Orleans, is one of many Louisiana coastal towns racing against time to safeguard its residents as the land disappears from underneath them, thanks to rising seas, subsidence and erosion. But its longtime mayor, Timothy P. Kerner, has been fighting for more investment in the area, hoping that strengthening the small town’s role in Louisiana’s culture and economy will help pay its way along the dire infrastructural investment necessary to keep it afloat. This longform piece, a collaboration between the New York Times and NOLA.com / The Times Picayune, lays out the complicated and contentious calculus of investing public funds in local causes that are nearly certain to fail, while those most affected refuse to stop fighting.

Read the full piece here.

Figuring out what land will be underwater in 20 years could be lucrative
Brad Plumer
New York Times
February 23, 2018

There is no infallible guidebook for companies trying to adapt to climate change, but one Silicon Valley startup is trying to provide better risk assessment tools given long-term climate trends and local weather data. Jupiter, founded in 2017, hopes that providing climate risk predictions specific to their clients in the short term (10-20 years) and at a hyper-local level will help them keep a competitive edge, despite scientists’ warnings of the unreliability of such predictions. This piece looks at Jupiter’s work for Xebec Realty in Charleston, S.C., as it considers expanding its logistical centers in areas at risk of flooding.

Read the full piece here.

The case for preventing climate gentrification
Michael Caballero
February 13, 2018

An emerging fallout of climate-based migration is the potential for so-called “climate gentrification” — where people are driven out of vulnerable, high-risk areas and move into less vulnerable or highly resilient urban areas, thereby promoting investment and gentrifying them. The theory resonates particularly in Miami, where inland communities that were historically the victims of redlining are now seeing more development, potentially fueling further speculative investment on the highly-vulnerable coastline. This op-ed, written by a chair of the U.S. Green Building Council Miami, discusses one potential salve for climate gentrification: training local women and minority-owned businesses in the high-resiliency areas to receive sustainable and resilient building accreditation. That way, they may be better prepared to advocate for sustainable development in their neighborhoods.

Read the full piece here.

Budget deal a windfall for mitigating sea-level rise
Arianna Skibell
E&E News
February 9, 2018

As part of a two-year budget deal passed by the U.S. Congress, nearly $100 billion will go towards disaster recovery, including $12 billion explicitly tagged for addressing future risks — the most ever specifically allocated to “hazard mitigation”. Without mentioning climate change, the budget also takes note of allocating these funds as a defense towards impending sea level rise. This piece lays out a few details from the budget agreement, and how it might affect state and federal planning for mitigation.

Read the full piece here.

Managed Retreat
99% Invisible Producers
January 30, 2018

In 1999, the city of Buxton, NC successfully moved its beloved lighthouse over half a mile inland to save it from encroaching sea-levels. The so-called “move of the millennium” was the result of a political battle that began in the 1970s over how to protect the lighthouse from falling into the sea — a struggle intensified by the strong cultural presence of the lighthouse within Buxton’s community. This story of managed retreat might not include relocated citizens, but the struggles and conflicts are nonetheless the same, and much can be learned from Buxton’s process.

To listen to (or read) the entire story, click here.

How to Save a Town From Rising Waters
Michael Isaac Stein
January 24, 2018

The Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Native Americans have been called “America’s first climate refugees”, referring to the ongoing retreat effort for their community of 99 in Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana. More than two years ago, the community was approved for relocation en masse to an entirely new town — but nothing has materialized yet. This long-read gives an overview of the myriad issues affecting the community, many of which are endemic to managed retreat conversations in the United States.

Read the full piece here.

Climate change is triggering a migrant crisis in Vietnam
Alex Chapman and Van Pham Dang Tri
The Conversation
January 18, 2018

Climate change can have a drastic impact on economic prosperity, and for those who live directly off the land, it can be ruinous. This piece looks at how rising levels of salt water in a Mekong Delta farming community decimated crop yields, pushing many into poverty or forcing them to move elsewhere. In the last decade, the Delta has lost nearly 10% of its population to migration.

Read the full piece here.

Could an algorithm help find the right place to resettle refugees?
James Vincent
The Verge
January 18, 2018

A significant complementary discussion to managed retreat is relocation — how can individuals become established in a new community after being displaced by climate change? In the U.S., deciding where to relocate refugees depends solely on capacity, but a new algorithm explained in the journal Science is after a more refined method. Using historical data linking biographical information to employment statistics, the algorithm makes a placement recommendation based on the highest possibility of finding a job. While it hasn’t been used on the ground, researchers hope the algorithm will help highlight clear places of improvement in refugee policy.

Read the full piece here.

Climate change will displace millions of people. Where will they go?
Tiffany Challe
January 5, 2018

After Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean island of Barbuda in September of 2017, it was rendered uninhabitable. The 1,700 residents are still stuck on the neighboring island of Antigua, where they were relocated, while rebuilding efforts are underway. This case of massive climate-based relocation was just one instance taken up by “Climate Change Impacts: Relocation to Safer Ground”, a discussion of the complexities inherent to retreat strategies in climate adaptation. Hosted by Columbia University’s Earth Institute this past December, the panel can be viewed in full here.

Read the full piece here.

Louisiana Says Thousands Should Move From Vulnerable Coast, But Can't Pay Them
Tegan Wendland
January 4, 2018

In Louisiana, where coastlines are disappearing faster than nearly anywhere else in the world, conversations about retreat have become relatively common. And while the state has a buyout program, there just isn’t the money to enact it — including the billions from settling with BP over their 2010 oil spill, specifically tagged for coastal restoration. Without a means to retreat’s end, Louisiana hasn’t yet revealed which homes would qualify for buyouts, leaving some homeowners to hope that the next storm is big enough to match the funds they need to move.

Read the full piece here.


Climate Change Is Driving People From Home. So Why Don’t They Count as Refugees?
Somini Sengupta
The New York Times
December 21, 2017

Under current law, those displaced by climate change aren’t considered refugees. While some countries establish temporary exceptions for those affected by extreme disasters, advocates and academics are pushing for a renewed legal definition, even as fears that opening up the issue for discussion could diminish current protections. Interest in renegotiating the definition is also spurred by a recent paper, suggesting that asylum seekers in Europe increased alongside increases in the temperatures of their home countries.

Read the full piece here.

Miami residents fear 'climate gentrification' as investors seek higher ground
Carolyn Beeler
December 19, 2017

Being out of the floodplain doesn’t exclude some communities from fear of climate change-induced displacement. In the relatively high-ground Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami, recent real estate development has some residents fearful that rising tides will prompt more outsiders to move into their neighborhood, potentially pricing them out. So-called “climate gentrification” needs further study, but it’s already apparent that climate change will influence development decisions.

Read the full piece here.

Stay or go? People under climate pressure must be able to choose
Jan Kellett
December 18, 2017

Identifying the root cause of displacement and migration is never simple. Even in communities under clear threat of climate change, migration isn’t necessarily done because of it. This piece by Jan Kellett, Special Advisor for External Engagement within the climate, disaster and energy team of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), unpacks the significance of how policy treats the causal relationship between climate change and migration. Kellett’s full report on the issue, co-produced by the UNDP and the Overseas Development Institute, can be found here.

Read the full piece here.

Climate change will displace millions in coming decades. Nations should prepare now to help them
Gulrez Shah Azhar, Pardee RAND Graduate School
San Francisco Chronicle
December 18, 2017

By the mid-21st century, climate change is estimated to displace between 150 and 300 million people. Such “climate migrants” must be considered on the global stage, but before regulations can be put in place on how to manage this emerging population, they must be defined. What precisely does it mean to be a climate migrant, or climate refugee? Gulrez Shah Azhar, a PhD candidate at the RAND Graduate School, raises these questions in a piece for The Conversation, an “independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts”, published by The San Francisco Chronicle.

Read the complete piece here.

'Where is the justice?' ask climate 'refugees', sidelined from global deal
Lin Taylor
December 6, 2017

This year, the United Nations plans to broker talks on global migration — but in early December of 2017, the U.S. pulled out of the voluntary agreement. This now means that low-lying states and regions vulnerable to climate change will be left out of the discussion, bringing particular concern to Pacific Islanders who already face climate-induced migration. Now, campaign groups representing such excluded parties are drafting a declaration for the U.N. to “recognize climate change as a key driver of migration.”

Read the full piece here.

New Zealand considers visa for climate 'refugees' from Pacific islands
Lin Taylor
November 17, 2017

New Zealand’s potential new policy is an attempt to be ahead of the curve on climate migration, as the current number of Pacific Islanders displaced from vulnerable areas is still relatively low. A special humanitarian visa could anticipate necessary migration should individuals need to cross borders, because under the U.N.’s current definition, climate-related displacement isn’t grounds for refugee status.

Read the full piece here.

Moody's Warns Cities to Address Climate Risks or Face Downgrades
Christopher Flavelle
November 29, 2017

Moody’s Corporation, one of the Big Three credit rating agencies, announced at the end of November that it would begin to incorporate climate change into its credit ratings when issuing state and local bonds. What cities and municipalities are doing (or not doing) to mitigate climate change-related risks will affect their credit ratings, making it harder to get cheap credit if they’re not responding for those risks. How Moody’s evaluates risks from climate change hinges both on climate trends, as in longer-term shifts in the climate overall, and on climate shock — the extreme, pointed instances of natural disasters made worse by the changing climate. How Moody’s will consider managed retreat among various mitigation strategies, and therefore whether retreat will have an affect on an area’s likelihood of default, remains to be seen.

Read the full piece here.

Del Mar Beachfront Facing Challenges Of ‘Managed Retreat’

Alison St. John
November 20, 2017

In the seaside southern California community of Del Mar, heated debate arose over whether the city should include “managed retreat” in its report on potential responses to sea level rise. Residents reportedly feared if the city included it in the report (crafted by the Sea-Level Rise Stakeholder-Technical Advisory Committee), their real estate values would suffer. Ultimately, the report was revised to exclude managed retreat.

Read the full piece here.

Climate Change Is Driving Residents of Kivalina From Their Homes
Sonia Luokkala
Sierra Club
November 12, 2017

Battered by increasingly harsh storms, Kivalina, an Alaskan barrier island about 80 miles north of the Arctic Circle, has lost nearly half of its land to erosion since the 1950s. The community of indigenous Inupiaq residents voted 25 years ago to move to the mainland, but federal and state governments haven’t provided much help towards the $400 million cost of relocating, making life on the island increasingly strained. This piece gives a glimpse at the day-to-day life of a family on Kivalina, navigating crumbling infrastructure and disinvestment in their protected lands.

Read the full piece here.

The case of Kivalina also brings up immensely complex equity issues involved in managed retreat strategies — more thoughts on this subject are available here.

An Act providing for the establishment of a comprehensive adaptation management plan in response to climate change
Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Coalition
November 8, 2017

Properties worth millions of dollars along Massachusetts’ coast are facing more regular and extreme storms as a consequence of climate change and rising seas. The ensuing coastal erosion and property loss has led the MA State Senate to recently pass legislation S.2196, establishing a comprehensive climate adaptation plan. In a provision of this Act the state authorized and funded a voluntary coastal buyout program. This new program gives landowners in at-risk areas the opportunity to sell their property to the Commonwealth if their homes have been regularly destroyed by these storms. In turn, the Commonwealth will preserve these properties for land conservation and public recreational use.

Read the full piece here.

A Broke, and Broken, Flood Insurance Program
Mary Williams Walsh
The New York Times
November 4, 2017

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has been drowning in debt after the aftermaths of Hurricane Katrina, Sandy and now Harvey. Fiscal conservatives, environmentalists and insurers are coalescing with the Trump Administration calling for reforms before December 8, Congress’ deadline to decide whether to reauthorize the program. The article discusses the challenges the NFIP faces and proposed measures to repair the program.

Read the full piece here.

Floods: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
John Oliver
Last Week Tonight
October 29, 2017 

In this episode, John Oliver examines in detail why the federal system for financing flood recovery needs to be revamped. Without a reform of the National Flood Insurance Program, he says, we have an “unstable, unsustainable program that is indirectly harming some of the people it was designed to help.” He discusses what some homeowners and the government can do to stop “perpetuating the pattern of destruction.”

Watch the segment here.

5 years after Superstorm Sandy, the lessons haven't sunk in
Frank Eltman and Wayne Parry
Associated Press
October 27, 2017 

Unlike the rapid security response to 9/11, after Superstorm Sandy few investments have been secured to safeguard the New York and New Jersey area from impending storms. Although some climate adaptation projects have been designed, construction has not begun and many disaster planning experts wonder if they will be implemented in time. The article discusses several forward-thinking infrastructure projects and how Hoboken hopes to serve as a national model of a climate resilient city. The article is accompanied by a short video.

Read the full piece here.

These Staten Islanders lost their neighborhood to Sandy. Here’s why they’re not taking it back.
Mary Beth Griggs
Popular Science
October 23, 2017

After Hurricane Sandy, residents of Oakwood Beach, Staten Island negotiated with the state and federal government to buyout their homes and relocate. Piece by piece, homes are being demolished and traces of human infrastructure are being removed, so that the area may be transformed into a naturally resilient landscape. This piece revisits Oakwood Beach to hear from residents about how the long process is being handled.

Read the full piece here.

America’s Climate Refugees Have Been Abandoned by Trump
Kyla Mandel
Mother Jones
October 17, 2017

Under President Obama, HUD responded to the “climate refugee problem” by initiating the development of a strategy for managed retreat, coordinated across federal agencies. Now under Trump, officials are concerned retreat strategizing has stagnated, despite the fallout from recent disastrous hurricanes.

Read the full piece here.

Rethinking the Jersey Shore's future in an age of climate change
Thomas H. Kean and Peter Kasabach
October 15, 2017

Co-authored by Thomas H. Kean, a former New Jersey governor, and Peter Kasabach, executive director of the not-for-profit sustainable growth organization New Jersey Future, this column calls for state-level coordination to make a regional strategy possible for climate adaptation and preparation. They argue that piecemeal community strategies can have “unintended adverse impacts” on neighbors, requiring a more expansive approach.

Read the full piece here.

Defending San Francisco, from Breakers to Bay
Tom Molanphy
San Francisco Weekly
October 5, 2017

As tides are expected to rise and erosion intensify on San Francisco’s coast, the Ocean Beach Master Plan was created with a strategy of managed retreat from the area. But the plan is complicated by present and future issues: the presence of a wastewater treatment plant nearby has to be accounted for, and knowing exactly how far retreat needs to go is hard to quantify.

Read the full piece here.

We have no system to deal with escalating climate damages. It's time to build one.
David Roberts
September 21, 2017

While it may seem irrational, people still continue to buy real estate in disaster-prone areas, provoking more development in areas that are already very vulnerable. This article considers how, even in the wake of multiple natural disasters, climigration attitudes are influenced by this “pluralistic ignorance”, or: “when members of a group adopt a norm, belief, or habit because they mistakenly believe other members of the group share it.” Government has a role to play here too: proactive, rather than reactive, climigration strategies need to be considered thoroughly to help break the cycle.

Read the full piece here.

Who pays to move people away from rising seas? No answer yet
Anne C. Mulkern
E&E News
September 20, 2017 

In the wake of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, Stanford researchers hosted the "Building Coastal Resilience: U.S. Risks and Preparedness” conference, to consider ways in which cities across the U.S. are undergoing, or considering, climigration. Among the difficult questions posed were who precisely should consider retreat, how far should they go, and who will pay for it. The conference also touches on the need for collaboration among local, state and federal governments when considering climigration strategies, despite the difficulties of balancing democratic representation with large-scale adaptation measures.

Read the full story (behind the paywall) here.

Harvey and Irma are the new normal. It's time to move away from the coasts.
Elizabeth Rush
Washington Post
September 15, 2017

With a host of hurricanes hitting the U.S. in the last few months, many Americans are being forced to consider climigration. In this opinion piece for the Washington Post, Elizabeth Rush, author of “Rising: The Unsettling of the American Shore”, calls for people to consider this difficult question, as she notes other ecological examples of species abandoning flood-prone habitats in search of higher, drier areas. She also cites the need for more government assistance — both with climigration, and resettlement.

Read the full piece here.

Splinters, Cha Cha Cha and a 'rising seas thing'
Adam Aton
E&E News
September 15, 2017

After Hurricane Irma destroyed an estimated one in four homes in the Florida Keys, this piece checks in with local homeowners about how they’ve seen both climate and housing values change in their lifetime. The residents express a mixture of concern and acceptance, and a shared love of their home — one they don’t imagine having to leave soon.

Read the full story here.

Abandon Florida? Not quite. But it's time for a retreat from flood zones.
Miyuki Hino, Katharina Mach, Christopher B. Field
September 14, 2017

When it comes to recovery after catastrophic events, some responses can send mixed messages. This article by environmental researchers at Stanford points to how government-subsidized programs to buy homes in flood-prone areas can help those interested in retreat, but depending on who buys it, the land could be developed even further for future habitation. This sends a confused signal to the sellers, and a general public, about just how dire the situation actually is.

Read the full piece here. For more information on Hino et al's research, see our blog post on it here.

What It Looks Like to Relocate a Town
William Widmer
Politico Magazine
September 1, 2017

This photo series documents how people are living in Houma, Louisiana, a community considering relocation due to increasing storms. Houma is part of the Louisiana Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments (LA SAFE), an effort to help communities facing imminent flood-risk plan for the future ahead.

See the complete slideshow here, and read POLITICO’s partner piece about LA SAFE here, (also mentioned below and in our news digest).

‘It’s Not Going To Be All Right’
Annie Snider
Politico Magazine
September 1, 2017

As storms like Hurricane Harvey are becoming increasingly frequent and costly, communities are realizing that certain places are no longer livable. In Houma, Louisiana, residents are considering the controversial question of relocation. The article discusses how Louisiana’s Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments, also known as LA Safe, is helping communities plan for the risks to come in 10, 25 and 50 years and serving as a model for flood-prone communities across the U.S.


As Hurricanes Bear Down, Tribes Act Quickly to Build Resilience Plans
Terri Hansen
August 30, 2017

Following the steps of the Isle de Jean Charles community - the first in the United States to receive federal funding for resettlement - 24 tribal nations are now developing similar climate adaptation plans. The article discusses one tribe’s unique climate resilience model based on an indigenous worldview and how it’s serving as a roadmap for other vulnerable communities across the U.S.  


Coastal Resiliency Projects Lack Landowner Support in Connecticut
Patrick Skahill
August 29, 2017

In a new study in the journal, “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” Associate Professor Chris Elphick from the University of Connecticut looks at how private landowners across CT’s coast respond to the use of their land for conservation efforts. His research found that arrangements with conservation groups were unpopular among the majority of landowners surveyed. Elphick highlights that climate science cannot continue to overlook the social science needed for the development of successful coastal resilience projects.


Pacific Grove Ordered To Think Beyond The Seawall
Erika Mahoney
90.3 KAZU, NPR for Monterey - Salinas - Santa Cruz
August 24, 2017

About 10% of California’s coastline is armored with a seawall to help protect against coastal erosion and flooding. However due to rising sea levels, fixing the growing damages to the wall is no longer sufficient. The California Coastal Commission is now requiring Pacific Grove to develop a shoreline management plan with recommendations for managed retreat.


The Drowning Isles
Ashtyn Douglas
August 17, 2017

The Solomon Islands, a country made up of hundreds of islands off Australia’s northeast coast, are in imminent danger of being submerged under water. The rates of sea-level rise in these islands are three times the global average. For this reason, they could “provide a window into the future,” according to marine scientist Dr. Simon Albert. The articles tells the stories of locals whose lives have drastically changed from rising seas, the difficulty the national government has had in securing funding to relocate island communities, and the need for developed countries to address the root cause of global warming. The article is accompanied by a short video at the end.


Refugees of a different kind are being displaced by rising seas - and governments aren’t ready
Matt Zdun
August 13, 2017

Sea levels are rising faster along the U.S.’ southeastern coast than the global average. The article discusses the enormous expense that governments and the global economy will incur if they do not take action right away. In fact, the U.S. is already having trouble funding climate relocation efforts for soon-to-be displaced communities. The article goes on to discuss current policies to relocate communities and highlights the importance of climate resiliency in relocation efforts.


Alaskan towns at risk from rising seas sound alarm as Trump pulls federal help
Oliver Milman
The Guardian
August 10, 2017

31 communities in Alaska face impending danger from climate change, where temperatures are rising twice as fast as the global rate. Some of these towns were in the process of receiving federal assistance for relocation to safer and higher ground. However since taking office, President Trump has begun eliminating climate adaptation programs. The article discusses the the threatening conditions these communities are forced to weather without being able to retreat.


On North Carolina’s Outer Banks, A Preview Of What Might Be In Store For Mass. Barrier Beaches
David Boeri
August 9, 2017

The shorelines along North Carolina’s Outer Banks are receding at a much faster rate due to rising seas and coastal erosion than other beaches on the U.S.’ Atlantic Coast. As a result, NC’s Outer Banks could serve as good indicators for the future of other beaches, such as Massachusetts’ Barrier Islands. The article discusses the steps that communities have taken to try to adapt and stay but ultimately, shows that retreat is their only option.


Tactical retreat? As seas rise, Louisiana faces hard choices.
Henry Gass
The Christian Science Monitor
August 2, 2017

Isle de Jean Charles, the first community in the U.S. to receive government aid to relocate in response to climate change, can provide valuable lessons for how retreat should be managed. The article discusses the three key pillars needed for managed retreat to be successful, efficient and less expensive.


Tampa Bay's coming storm
Darryl Fears
The Washington Post
July 28, 2017

If a hurricane hits Tampa Bay directly, the cost of damage will exceed that of Hurricane Sandy. It's been named one of the top 10 most at-risk places in the world. Yet like many other vulnerable coastal cities across the U.S., residents aren’t planning to move, development continues and most area leaders have done little to prepare for the effects of sea-level rise. However, one initiative started in Pinellas County could serve as a model for other at-risk communities. The Climate Science Advisory Panel established a network of scientists to help local governments develop projects that integrate climate change projections. The article discusses the importance of such measures and is accompanied by two videos.


The floating islands of south Louisiana? Could be an option as sea rises
Tristan Baurick
NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
July 26, 2017

A team of Dutch engineers is developing floating islands that could serve as relocation sites for communities that need to retreat from the shore. The model islands are composed of linked triangles engineered to absorb wave, tidal or wind energy. The article discusses their potential uses as well as their pros and cons.


This could be the next big strategy for suing over climate change
Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis
The Washington Post
July 20, 2017

A city and two counties on California’s coast are suing a number of the world’s largest fossil-fuel companies for expected damages due to the impact of sea level rise. This lawsuit is a first-of-its kind in that the plaintiffs are suing the firms under state rather than federal law for violating the public nuisance legal doctrine. They argue that companies such as BP, ExxonMobil and Chevron should be held accountable for knowingly contributing to climate change and injuring the public. “This lawsuit is a natural next step in how we address the expense we’ve already had in planning for and trying to remediate the impacts of sea level rise, but also in addressing the impacts we expect in the future,” says Marin County Supervisor Kate Sears.


Sea Level Rise Will Flood Hundreds of Cities in the Near Future
Laura Parker
National Geographic
July 12, 2017

A new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists forecasts - under different scenarios of global warming - the rate of sea level rise and the extent to which communities will be inundated in the next decades. These effects are visualized in an interactive online tool through a series of maps. The report also dives into the political and economic options available to affected communities.


Fight, flee or wait and see? Locals face hard choices as Louisiana coast recedes
Ellen Wulfhorst
Thomson Reuters Foundation
July 5, 2017

Louisiana is losing thousands of acres of wetland to the sea and is subsiding at a rate faster than previously calculated, making it one of the most vulnerable coasts in the world. LA SAFE (Louisiana's Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments), a $40 million government funded project, is working with threatened communities to contemplate the options they have to adapting to climate change. The article discusses the reasons for the residents' varying opinions.


Climate Adaptation Efforts Must Start with Listening – Experts
Zoe Tabary
GMA News Online
June 27, 2017

While many governments and organizations seek to assist the people most vulnerable to climate change, few actively involve those the programs are meant to benefit. The article highlights the need to design development programs to meet the needs of the community, particularly those generally excluded from these processes.


Climate Change Could Threaten up to 2 Billion Refugees by 2100
Alexander Kaufman
June 26, 2017

By the year 2100, rising sea levels could force up to 2 billion people inland, creating a refugee crisis among one-fifth of the world’s population. Worse yet, there won’t be many places for those migrants to go. Limited ideas of “adaptation” could leave humanity woefully unprepared for a mass migration that could dwarf the current refugee crisis in Europe.


Sea Level Rise isn’t Just Happening, it’s getting Faster
Chris Mooney
The Washington Post
June 26, 2017

A new study finds that the rate of sea level rise is increasing each year.


What Happens to Island Nations that are Lost to Rising Sea Levels?
Jacqueline Ronson
Inverse Science  
June 22, 2017

While some island nations, like Kiribati, have purchased land on larger islands for future relocation, most islanders will be forced to leave in unplanned moments of crisis, and it is unclear where they will be able to relocate. There is no international legal framework that specifies what happens to a country’s exclusive economic zone once the land no longer exists.


Not Your Mother’s Jersey Shore
Jill Capuzzo
The New York Times
June 16, 2017

Hurricane Sandy cleared many of the Jersey Shore’s existing lots and forced out their residents, opening space for extensive redevelopment. Reinvestment and new infrastructure in these coastal communities has led to revival, but many wealthy residents from New York City are replacing the former blue collar occupants and building larger, much more expensive second homes.


An Island is Disappearing, but Residents Don't See it
Scott Waldman
E&E News
June 15, 2017

Deal Island, MD is threatened by both erosion and rising sea levels. Despite the threats, most residents reject the idea of climate change and are determined to preserve the unique lifestyle afforded to them by life on the island. However, a group of climate skeptics, anthropologists, crabbers, pastors, and scientists are looking for common ground.


Mainland Miami Ponders Returning Neighborhoods to Nature in order to Survive Rising Seas
David Smiley
Miami Herald
June 9, 2017

Increased flooding and sea level rise pose serious threats to Miami. The Shorecrest neighborhood is particularly impacted, now flooding for days at a time during the King Tide. A cross-sectoral group developed a hypothetical plan that focuses on redesigning, rather than simply reinforcing, the area and includes relocation of the most vulnerable houses.


There are Climate Change Refugees in the U.S. Right Now
Jan Lee
Triple Pundit
June 9, 2017

This article describes the 400 villagers of Kivalina, AK as U.S. climate refugees. While residents want to move inland, they do not have the financial resources to make the move and also cannot secure federal funds. Each year of delay increases the cost of the move, with some estimating that the relocation effort will cost between $100-400 million (up to $1 million per villager).


Maryland’s Smith Island, Home to a Vanishing Dialect and Rising Sea Levels
Rob Kunzig
Atlas Obscura
June 8, 2017

The people of Smith Island, MD have a unique and place-based way of life. However, deteriorating economic conditions, coastal erosion, and sea level rise all threaten the community. After Hurricane Sandy, the town rejected a $1 million buyout offer and instead worked with planners to create a, yet unimplemented, protection and revitalization plan. 


This Film Shows What NYC Might Look like if Global Temperatures Increased by 2˚C
The Inertia Editorial Staff
The Inertia
June 6, 2017

Sea level rise will pose a particular threat to coastal cities, such as New York. The video imagines a flooded New York City in a world where global temperatures have risen by 2-4 degrees Celsius.  


Get in the Sea – Should we allow Coastal Heritage Sites to Fall to Ruin?
Chitra Ramaswamy
The Guardian
June 5, 2017

The U.K.’s National Trust is adopting a policy of “continuous ruination” for many of its coastal landmarks due to climate change, rising sea levels, increasing numbers of storms, and shrinking budgets. Under this policy, certain landmarks will be allowed to return to nature over time. 


A Tale of Two Towns: The US is Relocating an Entire Town because of Climate Change. And this is just the Beginning
Neha Thirani Bagri
June 5, 2017

Two highly vulnerable U.S. coastal communities, Isle de Jean Charles, LA and Newtok, AK, applied for National Disaster Resiliency Competition funding to relocate. Due to financial constraints, Louisiana received federal funding, with $48 million directed towards the relocation of Isle de Jean Charles, while Newtok received no money for its relocation plan.


New Official Advice on Sea Levels - No Consents to Build until Two Meters above High Tide
David Fischer
New Zealand Herald
June 4, 2017

A draft report by the government of New Zealand to local councils proposes banning them from approving or building within 1.9 meters of the high tide mark. Some councils have questioned the feasibility of retreat without substantial financial support from the federal government.





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