Christopher Flavin

Mr Flavin is President of the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington-based research organization known for its path-breaking work on the connections between economic, social and environmental trends. In his long career at Worldwatch, Mr Flavin has guided the Institute's development as Vice President of Research and as Senior Vice President before being appointed President in 2000. He is a regular co-author of the Institute's annual report, State of the World, which has been published in 36...

Preparing and Protecting American Families from the Onslaught of Catastrophe

American families need to be better prepared for and protected from mega-catastrophes. Hurricane Katrina underscored this point with the same force and clarity that the savage attacks of 11 September 2001 crystallized our national awareness and galvanized our national thinking about the immediate need to improve and enhance our preparation and defenses with regard to terrorism. The US needs the same resolve and commitment to a national effort to improve and enhance preparation, mitigation and...

Energy markets are not free

If modern, distributed generation is more efficient and less polluting, requires half of the capital investment, and reduces system vulnerability to weather and terrorism, why do most countries continue to build central generating plants The key factor seems to be a flaw in conventional thinking about the role of free markets. Most economists simply assume that market economies have optimized the production of goods and services, and that opportunities for additional efficiency do not exist....

International efforts

Not only states, but also other nations are providing leadership and taking initiative on the climate issue. Countries on every continent are switching to alternative energy sources such as wind, biofuels and even hydrogen power. Other parts of the world, particularly Europe, are modifying current energy-generation practices to reduce their impact on the environment. Later chapters discuss in more detail ongoing efforts in Iceland and small island states. Here, we highlight other groundbreaking...

Sea level rise and subsidence

The formation and maintenance of shorelines, wetlands, barrier islands, estuaries and lagoons of the Gulf Coast are intimately linked with sea level. Geologic records indicate that global sea level has risen about 120 m since the Last Glacial Maximum approximately 20,000 years ago. Sea level rose rapidly (averaging almost 0.9 m per century) between 20,000 and 6000 years before present and slowed to about 0.02 m per century or less during the past 3000 years (IPCC, 2001). From the mid-19th...

Recycling energy

The manufacturing and electric-power industries, by and large, capture only a small portion of the potential energy in the fuel they burn, and then discard the rest as waste energy. Many cost-effective approaches are available to recycle these waste streams, generating incremental electricity and thermal energy without increasing pollution or burning additional fossil fuel. Recycled energy's unused potential may be society's best-kept secret. Recycling waste energy can take two approaches. In...

Tropical storms

The most extensive flooding, shoreline erosion and wetland loss in the Gulf Coast region occurs during hurricanes and lesser tropical storms. An increase in the frequency or intensity of tropical storms entering the Gulf of Mexico could have serious consequences for human settlements and natural ecosystems along this low-lying coastal margin. During Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, for example, about 300 km2 of land in south Louisiana were converted to open water, according to preliminary...

Reducing coastal risk

With so many living on the coastal edge, how can society reduce the inevitable risks of living near the shore Beach nourishment is seen by an increasing number of coastal communities as an alternative to forcing people to move from the coasts, even though many replenished beaches have lasted only a few years rather than decades for most locations, this strategy cannot work in the long term. Armoring the beach with seawalls can stabilize the shore, but the monetary and aesthetic costs are very...

Characteristics of tropical and extratropical storms in the Metropolitan region

The height and reach of storm surges and flooding along low-lying coastlines are influenced by a variety of factors, including offshore morphology, coastline geometry, astronomical tides and both the regional and local wind and pressure fields. Tropical for example, hurricanes and extra-tropical for example, nor'easters storm systems are associated with different wind and pressure fields, and these produce characteristically different storm surges. Extra-tropical storms cover a larger...

Storm surge barriers The New England experience

1938 Hurricane Stamford

Although dwarfed in scale by the European barriers, three New England barriers constructed during the 1960s have some design features and operating characteristics that might be relevant to the New York metropolitan region. Barriers across open waterways exist at three locations Stamford CT, Providence RI and New Bedford MA. The construction of hurricane-flood protection for the region was authorized by Congress in the Flood Control Act of 5 July 1958 Public Law 85-500, 85th Congress . The...

Corporate involvement

In the last few years, many multinational corporations and US businesses have committed themselves to addressing climate change. Large companies are able to use their market power to influence the types of products consumers buy. Some companies have realized this, and are now leveraging their market power and offering increasingly environmentally friendly products to their customers. For example Home Depot, one of the largest suppliers of lumber in the US, has decided to sell only certified...