Hurricane Harvey and Disaster Policy


I’ve got an op-ed in the WSJ today on actions needed in the aftermath of Harvey, as we are just at the beginning of what is assuredly a return to more frequent disasters. In the article I suggest the following as obvious bi-partisan places to seek agreement and secure quick actions:

  1. Disaster review boards
  2. Local planning for resilient growth
  3. Enhance federal agency capacity

In July, I explained at Risk Frontiers why more frequent disasters were on their way. It didn’t take long for that expectation to be fulfilled.

Here are two very good pieces on the political pitfalls of using Harvey as a political bludgeon in the climate debate:

  1. From the left at Grist
  2. From the right at The Spectator

I’m happy to hear comments here or on Twitter.

2 thoughts on “Hurricane Harvey and Disaster Policy

    1. The anti-Texas rhetoric is flawed on several levels.

      In particular the Washington Post assertion that Houston should “jump-start its transition from the country’s epicenter for oil and gas to a world capital of alternative energies” ignores the fact that Houston’s home state Texas has done better than most US states in taking up renewable energy.


      In particular Texas is # 11 in percentage of its energy from solar and wind, just behind California.

      Texas leads the US in wind-powered electricity generation capacity:

      and in 2016 Texas led the nation in total electricity generation (in absolute MWh terms):

      Texas is #6 in an important measure of decarbonisation: the “decoupling” of economic growth from carbon dioxide emissions. Texas is also an “epicenter” of the shale gas revolution; substitution of gas for coal is partly responsible for the US being a country that has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade.

      So Texas is arguably more responsible than most other US states for climate change mitigation.

      Finally, the academic who suggested Texans were experiencing “karma” in the form of hurricane Harvey because of their support for Trump seems to have ignored the fact that Harris County Texas, of which Houston is the seat, went for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.


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