Extreme Weather Threatens Infrastructure Across America

Airplanes sink in melted asphalt, trains derail along kinked tracks, highways buckle over dry soil; these aren't scenes from a science fiction film depicting a future plagued by global warming. Climate change is here, and it's taxing our grid.
July 26, 2012, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Matthew L. Wald and John Schwartz describe the rapid changes in weather patterns effecting the nation's infrastructure - from roads to rails to power plants - and taxing the minds of engineers and officials across the county, as extreme weather is the new normal and no area of the country is spared from its effects. "In general, nobody in charge of anything made of steel and concrete can plan based on past trends, said Vicki Arroyo, who heads the Georgetown Climate Center at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, a clearinghouse on climate-change adaptation strategies."

Although cities and towns across North America are devising and implementing climate adaptation strategies (North Carolina, are you paying attention?), David Behar, the climate program director for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, believes that, "Even as the effects of weather extremes become more evident, precisely how to react is still largely an open question."

"Ms. Arroyo of Georgetown said the federal government must do more. 'They are not acknowledging that the future will look different from the past,' she said, 'and so we keep putting people and infrastructure in harm's way.'" 

 

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Published on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 in The New York Times
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