"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 ChangeFrom Obama's memo itself as quoted in the article (no link; memo was leaked):
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.
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."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."
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.
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).