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Rob Horowitz: Obama Moves into High Gear on Climate Change

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

 

There is no real debate in the rest of the world about the science around climate change. The battle is over countries doing their fair share, believes Rob Horowitz.

As it comes into fuller view, President Obama’s new approach to tackling climate change, combining robust executive action at home with stepped up diplomacy on this issue internationally, is creating a real basis for optimism about the possibility of making substantial progress on this challenging problem.

The recent release of a joint statement from China and the United States, the two largest emitters of carbon, pledging to work together to set real benchmarks for reducing greenhouse gases in advance of next year’s international climate conference is a tangible indication that we are beginning to make headway. “This a unique, cooperative effort between China and the United States and we have hopes that it will help to set an example for global leadership and global seriousness on the issue of next year's climate negotiation," said Secretary of State John Kerry.

Enhanced United States credibility on climate change as a result of significant executive actions aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions underlies Secretary of State Kerry’s success in producing this new understanding with China as well as girds his stepped up international advocacy on the issue.

Kerry’s strong climate change speech in Jakarta, Indonesia last week, the first of several planned addresses on the topic, was well-received around the world precisely because the Obama Administration is now taking action on the issue at home. In the speech, Kerry said, “The science is unequivocal, and those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand, President Obama and I both believe we don’t have time for a meeting anywhere of the Flat Earth Society.” The Secretary of State went on to remark, “It is time for the world to approach this problem with the cooperation, the urgency, and the commitment that a challenge of this scale warrants."

President Obama unveiled his latest executive action on climate change a week ago, mandating increased fuel standards for the nation’s fleet of heavy-duty trucks. This substantial initiative follows the President dramatically increasing fuel mileage standards for cars and light trucks and requiring existing power plants to reduce carbon emissions. These actions were all taken using the President's authority under the Clean Air Act.

Other Obama Administration climate initiatives include putting executive branch muscle and purchasing power behind energy efficiency standards for new buildings and appliances, leveraging private and international funding for renewable sources of energy at home and abroad, announcing US opposition to the building of new coal-fired power plants abroad unless they include carbon-capture technology, providing climate change adaptation assistance to states and municipalities in part through the recently announced nine regional climate hubs, and committing the executive branch to further reductions in energy use.

Taken together, these executive actions will enable the United States to achieve at least the 17% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 it pledged to accomplish as part of the 2009 international Copenhagen agreement on climate change. More importantly, they serve as the launching pad for the aggressive United States leadership and diplomacy required to get all the nations who have created this problem to take meaningful steps towards solving it. Carbon emissions know no borders and any solution requires cooperative international action.

There is no real debate in the rest of the world about the science around climate change. By and large it is viewed as a settled fact. The battle is over countries doing their fair share. As a result, the one-two punch of continuing executive action at home with Secretary Kerry’s outspoken advocacy abroad gives us a fighting chance to reach a new international agreement with teeth in it when the extended terms of the Kyoto Protocol expire next year and the nations of the world meet together at a climate change conference to be held in Paris for the express purpose of negotiating a new protocol. That will be the ultimate test of President Obama’s new, more effective approach to climate change.


Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.

 

Related Slideshow: Natural Disasters: RI’s Most At Risk and Vulnerable Communities

The below slides show what communities are at greatest risk and most vulnerable to a particular natural disaster, such as another hurricane, or a less-common disaster, such as an earthquake or a tornado. Higher scores correspond to a higher risk and vulnerability for that community. Cities and towns are listed starting with those that have the least risk and vulnerability, ending with the most at-risk and most vulnerable. Because flooding is a particular concern to Rhode Islanders, additional information on the threat of flooding from a major 100-year storm is shown.

Scoring method

The score for each type of hazard was determined by multiplying two separate scores together: the hazard risk score and the vulnerability score. The hazard risk score was calculated by multiplying three scores together: the score for frequency (how often something happens), the score for area impact (area that would be affected), and the score for intensity (such as the depth of a flood or the wind speed of a three-second gust in a hurricane). Higher scores mean a higher risk. The vulnerability score was derived using a similar multi-layered calculation that takes into account the population size and characteristics (for example, elderly and low-income populations are more vulnerable), the economy, the environment, and the number and importance of critical facilities like hospitals or power stations. Higher scores mean a greater vulnerability.

The scores are not against any scale. Instead they are relative in nature, showing how risk and vulnerability for a natural disaster is distributed throughout the state. A community with a higher score has a greater share of risk and vulnerability than one with a lower score. Scores and method information are from 2011 State Hazard Mitigation Plan. (A 2014 updated plan has been recently released, but numerical scores are not provided for each community.) For a detailed description of the entire scoring method, see PDF pages 123 to 145 on the 2011 plan.

Prev Next

#39 Little Compton

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 160

Flood Score: 18

Earthquake Score: 60

Tornado Score: 16

Snow Score: 50

Total Score: 424

Flood Damage

Rank: 14

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,516

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 16.78%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 1,160

Number of Buildings at Risk: 187

Photo: Flickr/Al Carmadella Jr.

Prev Next

#38 Richmond

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 200

Flood Score: 18

Earthquake Score: 90

Tornado Score: 24

Snow Score: 75

Total Score: 587

Flood Damage

Rank: 24

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,945

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 11.35%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#37 Exeter

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 240

Flood Score: 0

Earthquake Score: 90

Tornado Score: 24

Snow Score: 75

Total Score: 609

Flood Damage

Rank: 36

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,190

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 5.78%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Photo: Flickr/UCL Mathematical

Prev Next

#36 West Greenwich

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 240

Flood Score: 0

Earthquake Score: 90

Tornado Score: 24

Snow Score: 75

Total Score: 609

Flood Damage

Rank: 39

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,197

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 3.62%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Photo: Flickr/born1945

Prev Next

#35 New Shoreham

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 300

Flood Score: 27

Earthquake Score: 90

Tornado Score: 24

Snow Score: 75

Total Score: 696

Flood Damage

Rank: 13

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,220

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 17.3%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 840

Number of Buildings at Risk: 20

Photo: Flickr/Al Camardella Jr.

Prev Next

#34 Foster

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 180

Flood Score: 18

Earthquake Score: 120

Tornado Score: 32

Snow Score: 200

Total Score: 790

Flood Damage

Rank: 28

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,659

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 7.94%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Photo: Flickr/US Geological Survey

Prev Next

#33 Jamestown

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 480

Flood Score: 54

Earthquake Score: 180

Tornado Score: 48

Snow Score: 150

Total Score: 1,272

Flood Damage

Rank: 20

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 766

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 11.95%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 3,910

Number of Buildings at Risk: 108

Photo: Flickr/NASA Goddard

Prev Next

#32 Hopkinton

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 600

Flood Score: 54

Earthquake Score: 210

Tornado Score: 56

Snow Score: 175

Total Score: 1,515

Flood Damage

Rank: 21

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 3,412

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 11.86%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#31 North Smithfield

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 480

Flood Score: 27

Earthquake Score: 210

Tornado Score: 56

Snow Score: 350

Total Score: 1,543

Flood Damage

Rank: 26

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,727

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 10.63%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Photo: Flickr/ilovemypit

Prev Next

#30 Charlestown

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 680

Flood Score: 144

Earthquake Score: 210

Tornado Score: 56

Snow Score: 175

Total Score: 1,685

Flood Damage

Rank: 4

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 9,276

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 34.08%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 2,510

Number of Buildings at Risk: 838

Prev Next

#29 Glocester

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 500

Flood Score: 27

Earthquake Score: 240

Tornado Score: 64

Snow Score: 400

Total Score: 1,711

Flood Damage

Rank: 34

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,271

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 6.2%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Photo: Flickr/Michael Dolan

Prev Next

#28 East Greenwich

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 720

Flood Score: 63

Earthquake Score: 270

Tornado Score: 72

Snow Score: 225

Total Score: 1,890

Flood Damage

Rank: 17

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,500

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 14.03%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 1,240

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Photo: Flickr/Sean Naber

Prev Next

#27 Scituate

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 500

Flood Score: 99

Earthquake Score: 270

Tornado Score: 72

Snow Score: 450

Total Score: 1,931

Flood Damage

Rank: 11

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 6,368

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 17.98%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Photo: Flickr/US Geological Survey

Prev Next

#26 Middletown

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 800

Flood Score: 36

Earthquake Score: 300

Tornado Score: 80

Snow Score: 250

Total Score: 2,066

Flood Damage

Rank: 37

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 499

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 5.63%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 2,012

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Photo: Flickr/Ani Carrington

Prev Next

#25 Central Falls

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 740

Flood Score: 36

Earthquake Score: 300

Tornado Score: 80

Snow Score: 500

Total Score: 2,256

Flood Damage

Rank: 16

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 121

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 14.58%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#24 Tiverton

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 880

Flood Score: 54

Earthquake Score: 330

Tornado Score: 88

Snow Score: 275

Total Score: 2,287

Flood Damage

Rank: 22

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,335

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 11.51%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 3,080

Number of Buildings at Risk: 191

Prev Next

#23 Warren

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 800

Flood Score: 198

Earthquake Score: 330

Tornado Score: 88

Snow Score: 275

Total Score: 2,351

Flood Damage

Rank: 5

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,431

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 33.99%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 7,520

Number of Buildings at Risk: 534

Prev Next

#22 Lincoln

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 740

Flood Score: 45

Earthquake Score: 360

Tornado Score: 96

Snow Score: 600

Total Score: 2,561

Flood Damage

Rank: 35

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 752

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 6.12%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#21 Narragansett

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,180

Flood Score: 198

Earthquake Score: 390

Tornado Score: 104

Snow Score: 325

Total Score: 2,977

Flood Damage

Rank: 2

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 4,224

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 39.2

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 9,030

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#20 Portsmouth

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,120

Flood Score: 216

Earthquake Score: 420

Tornado Score: 112

Snow Score: 350

Total Score: 3,058

Flood Damage

Rank: 7

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 4,238

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 26.64

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 6,530

Number of Buildings at Risk: 1,078

Photo: Flickr/Core Burn

Prev Next

#19 Smithfield

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 920

Flood Score: 72

Earthquake Score: 420

Tornado Score: 112

Snow Score: 700

Total Score: 3,094

Flood Damage

Rank: 30

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,201

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 6.74%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#18 Barrington

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 860

Flood Score: 243

Earthquake Score: 420

Tornado Score: 112

Snow Score: 600

Total Score: 3,066

Flood Damage

Rank: 1

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,417

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 40.97%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 13,890

Number of Buildings at Risk: 784

Prev Next

#17 Bristol

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,200

Flood Score: 135

Earthquake Score: 480

Tornado Score: 128

Snow Score: 400

Total Score: 3,303

Flood Damage

Rank: 8

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,745

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 26.28

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 5,330

Number of Buildings at Risk: 483

Prev Next

#16 Coventry

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,160

Flood Score: 81

Earthquake Score: 480

Tornado Score: 128

Snow Score: 550

Total Score: 3,359

Flood Damage

Rank: 38

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,147

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 5.26%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#15 Burrillville

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 906

Flood Score: 63

Earthquake Score: 510

Tornado Score: 136

Snow Score: 850

Total Score: 3,539

Flood Damage

Rank: 32

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,394

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 6.39

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#14 Johnston

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,180

Flood Score: 18

Earthquake Score: 510

Tornado Score: 136

Snow Score: 850

Total Score: 3,714

Flood Damage

Rank: 25

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,677

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 10.7%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#13 South Kingstown

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,580

Flood Score: 171

Earthquake Score: 540

Tornado Score: 144

Snow Score: 450

Total Score: 3,965

Flood Damage

Rank: 6

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 12,168

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 29.51

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 7,310

Number of Buildings at Risk: 1,315

Prev Next

#12 Cumberland

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,180

Flood Score: 117

Earthquake Score: 600

Tornado Score: 160

Snow Score: 1,000

Total Score: 4,257

Flood Damage

Rank: 23

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,098

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 11.46%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#11 Westerly

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,880

Flood Score: 189

Earthquake Score: 570

Tornado Score: 152

Snow Score: 475

Total Score: 4,406

Flood Damage

Rank: 9

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 5,604

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 26.15%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 7,120

Number of Buildings at Risk: 1,342

Prev Next

#10 West Warwick

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,480

Flood Score: 99

Earthquake Score: 660

Tornado Score: 176

Snow Score: 925

Total Score: 4,660

Flood Damage

Rank: 19

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 629

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 12.21%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#9 North Providence

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,400

Flood Score: 81

Earthquake Score: 690

Tornado Score: 184

Snow Score: 1,150

Total Score: 4,885

Flood Damage

Rank: 33

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 238

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 6.3%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#8 North Kingstown

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,760

Flood Score: 297

Earthquake Score: 690

Tornado Score: 184

Snow Score: 575

Total Score: 4,886

Flood Damage

Rank: 10

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 5,538

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 19.12%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 7,820

Number of Buildings at Risk: 850

Photo: Flickr/Jessica Merz

Prev Next

#7 Newport

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 1,880

Flood Score: 306

Earthquake Score: 720

Tornado Score: 192

Snow Score: 600

Total Score: 5,138

Flood Damage

Rank: 3

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 2,078

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 37.24%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 10,590

Number of Buildings at Risk: 993

Photo: Flickr/ChalkyLives

Prev Next

#6 Woonsocket

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 2,260

Flood Score: 99

Earthquake Score: 1,110

Tornado Score: 296

Snow Score: 1,850

Total Score: 7,835

Flood Damage

Rank: 29

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 356

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 6.95%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: N/A

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#5 East Providence

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 2,720

Flood Score: 225

Earthquake Score: 1,410

Tornado Score: 376

Snow Score: 2,350

Total Score: 9,901

Flood Damage

Rank: 12

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,610

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 17.37%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 7,430

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#4 Cranston

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 3,820

Flood Score: 360

Earthquake Score: 1,950

Tornado Score: 520

Snow Score: 3,250

Total Score: 13,800

Flood Damage

Rank: 27

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,541

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 8.25%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 2,330

Number of Buildings at Risk: 640

Prev Next

#3 Pawtucket

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 4,880

Flood Score: 117

Earthquake Score: 2,160

Tornado Score: 576

Snow Score: 3,600

Total Score: 15,653

Flood Damage

Rank: 31

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 392

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 6.7%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 1,150

Number of Buildings at Risk: N/A

Prev Next

#2 Warwick

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 5,400

Flood Score: 684

Earthquake Score: 2,400

Tornado Score: 640

Snow Score: 2,875

Total Score: 16,799

Flood Damage

Rank: 15

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 3,923

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 16.51%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 28,760

Number of Buildings at Risk: 2,594

Prev Next

#1 Providence

Natural Hazard Scores

Wind Score: 10,980

Flood Score: 486

Earthquake Score: 5,850

Tornado Score: 1,560

Snow Score: 9,750

Total Score: 40,326

Flood Damage

Rank: 18

Acres at Risk of Flooding: 1,669

Percent of Total Acres in Community at Risk: 13.58%

Hurricane Coastal Flooding

Number of Residents in Evac. Zone: 1,010

Number of Buildings at Risk: 481

 
 

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