Tuesday, December 20, 2016

"Managed Retreat" — Obama's Climate Plan to Move Whole Towns


Bob Dylan wants shelter from the storm. Don't we all. (Recorded Roseland, October 19, 1994.) 

by Gaius Publius

I'm offering this news to you not because of its news value — the initiative is certain to fail, given the incoming Trump and the imminently outgoing Obama. Nor am I presenting it because Obama, he of the conflicted climate motivations, is acting like his noblest self. After all, if he cared about this stuff, he'd have been doing things like this all along, instead of failing to do in deeds what his "securing my legacy" words appear to promise.

No, I'm presenting this because it actually is a practical program that must be undertaken, and will be undertaken in the U.S. at some point in the lifetime of most readers of this piece.

Are you young enough to live another, say, 10–20 years? This is in your future, unless something forces a national emergency around climate and a WWII-style mobilization. Yes, it's going to take force; it was always going to take force. Absent that force, non-violent of course, prepare for more like this.

From Bloomberg, of all places (h/t Facebook friend Alanna Trebond; my emphasis throughout):
Obama's Final Push to Adapt to Climate Change

With little more than a month left in office, the Barack Obama administration is quietly trying to accomplish one last big thing on climate change: creating a policy for relocating entire towns threatened by extreme weather and rising seas.

The White House has asked 11 federal agencies to sign a memorandum of understanding establishing what it calls "an interagency working group on community-led managed retreat and voluntary relocation." The group's goal would be to "develop a framework for managed retreat" -- including deciding which agency should be in charge, identifying obstacles to relocation and how to remove them, and coordinating with communities that already want to move. The group is supposed to develop an "action plan" within nine months of the agencies signing on.
From Obama's memo itself as quoted in the article (no link; memo was leaked):
As more communities consider managed retreat and relocation as options of last resort to protect human life and avoid future property damage, there is a critical need to better define the Federal role in these efforts and to coordinate Federal assistance for managed retreat and relocation at the national level.
I hope the phrase "managed retreat and relocation" hit you in the face. It did me. Because, of course, "managed retreat" applies to more than just the short-term future of many of our towns, especially along the shorelines. It applies to the long-term future of our species. (Unless, of course, we opt for the always available, always effective "Easter Island solution," which we may well do. After all, there may be a "rolling civil war" in the offing.)


One more section from the article, and I'll stop quoting it. Do read though; it's good.
Lest the image of Americans leaving their homes en masse seem like a downer, the White House frames the idea in upbeat terms, calling retreat and relocation "proactive hazard risk reduction strategies for communities threatened by repeated natural disasters." Well, sort of upbeat: It defines retreat as moving infrastructure or homes, and relocation as a form of retreat that entails "a complete abandonment of that community."

The memo's authors were apparently alert to the risk of alarming people. The document stresses that relocation will only happen when "all or part of a community chooses to move"; in the version I looked at, the word "voluntary" appears 26 times.
Naturally, Obama doesn't want to be a "downer," so he sprinkles the word "voluntary" through the memo 26 times. In reality, only preëmptive relocation will be voluntary. When the storm is raging, or has been raging again and again and again, the police or military will take over, and "retreat" will be known by its other name, "evacuation."

Obama's Legacy

A final note about Obama. This "gesture," despite its hollowness, shows that he actually does get it about climate, as I've noted any number of times. He just never wanted to step up to the plate and do the job his understanding required. This is a legacy act in a second sense as well, in the sense that you can brand yourself with deeds as well as with words.

I used to think Ms. Clinton would, in theory at least, be the president with the last clear shot at a solution. Turns out it was Obama after all (unless Trump is struck off his golden horse on the way to Damascus).



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At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Helen said...

Very interesting, Gaius. Yes, Obama has been far better with words than with deeds. He is such an articulate, intelligent, compassionate man but he has played to the middle way too often and to our detriment, as well as to the detriment of his legacy.

At 5:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot believe what I keep reading from people who SHOULD know better.

Someone once said (paraphrasing): The measure of someone is not what they say or think or say they think... it is SOLELY what they DO.

No, obamanation is NOT compassionate.
He promised the banking lobby that nobody would be prosecuted for stealing $20 trillion, taking 11 million homes and 9 million jobs (and causing several dozen suicides).
He promised the health care lobbies that there would be no PO nor SP nor would there be volume pricing for Medicare... costing everyone hundreds to thousands of dollars per year... so that CEOs and lobbyists could continue to live the high life, and keep donating to the democrap party.
He gives orders to kill people somewhere in the world by drone whenever it amuses him (also killed: everyone within the kill radii of whatever missiles are deployed).
He waited 7 fucking years before his very tepid program of trying to govern by executive order.
He waited until the 11.5th hour to do this bullshit, even though drumpf's very first action will be to erase it.
And it may SOUND kind of altruistic, but where ya gonna put 9 million new Yorkers?
You should know, as I do, that if the sea inundates ANY town, the rich fucks will demand new real estate (via eminent domain, as the bushbaby did to build his baseball stadium) while the working schmucks will be SOL.

And, worst of all, calling this a "solution" is horseshit. Whatever this is, it is merely a band aid. It is not a solution. There ARE NO SOLUTIONS!

At 11:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This "solution" is the local/logical equivalent of the magical thinking that the species can escape the costs to alleviate the problems it has caused itself here by colonizing other planets ... at, perhaps 1000x the cost per person "saved."

John Puma

At 6:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yet another:


Only a nuclear winter can (temporarily) change this vector. Perhaps der fuhrer is aware of this. I just heard his people floating another overt threat of pushing the "nookyuler button".

At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think "The Twilight Zone" was like a handbook for us all. From an earlier age when enough people still believed in stuff. Where do people think they'll be going when their current geographic area becomes uninhabitable?

"Tome. Time. Time."




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