Breezy Point is beautiful in the summertime, a quaint Queens neighbourhood sitting on a slim peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic just south of New York City.In a storm, though, that dreamy setting can become a nightmare.Breezy Point was devastated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Flooding, high winds and fires destroyed more than 300 homes, with many more left damaged and unliveable. Now, seven years later, architect Illya Azaroff has designed and built a home there he says can withstand a storm even more powerful than Sandy, “maintaining operation, even if all else fails”.Welcome to the home of the future in a time of climate change. As weather gets wilder and less predictable, firms that design, construct or improve housing with storm safety and resiliency in mind are increasingly in demand, says Matt Belcher, a builder in tornado-prone St Louis. It’s a powerful marketing message that cuts across the political divide, he says.“The frequency and severity of the storms are increasing,” says Belcher, who builds houses designed to withstand 140 mile-an-hour winds. “Whether people credit it to climate change or think it’s cyclical, it doesn’t matter if your house is destroyed. Either way, resiliency applies.”In 2008, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, an industry research group, created a set of construction standards that generally exceed local building codes, certifying that a home is likely to survive hurricane-force winds and rain.The needle barely moved on the number of homes meeting the designation in a handful of hurricane-prone states from 1,122 in 2008 to 1,638 in 2014. By 2018, the number jumped ten-fold to 11,031 homes, and it’s moved to 12,530 in the first four months of 2019.The “fortified” designation is provided by trained evaluators primarily based in Texas, Florida, the Carolinas and Alabama, though the institute is now expanding the numbers of states they serve. In some areas, the designation can help homeowners with insurance and renovation costs.“When the consumer has a different perception of the risk, it changes the demands they make on home builders,” says Roy Wright, the group’s leader and a former head of risk mitigation at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “The home building industry will respond to the market, they always do.”The Breezy Point design by Brooklyn-based Azaroff, who also serves as the New York disaster coordinator for the American Institute of Architects, keeps Sandy’s devastation in mind, from the bottom up:* The house is elevated more than 3-feet above average flood elevation, with open concrete posts sunk deep into the ground and vents that let flowing water easily escape underneath the house.* The walls and floor are made with concrete-filled forms made from polystyrene and recycled plastic that can withstand driving rain and 300mph winds.* It has fire-resistant fibre cement-board siding, and inflexible, interlocking polymer roof shingles locked in with screws. Safety glass in the windows can withstand a 9-pound piece of wood flying at 34mph.* And the roof is held in place with ultra-strong connectors.Cost remains key for homeowners. The hurricane-strong house, as Azaroff has labelled it, is about 7 per cent to 9 per cent more expensive to build. But with energy and insurance savings, the upgrades should pay for themselves in 8-10 years, according to Azaroff.While the Breezy Point house is built to withstand hurricanes, architects elsewhere face other issues. Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska are the centre of a region sometimes called Tornado Alley. Extreme weather there can mean violently rotating winds that move in excess of 110 miles per hour.Q4 Architects Inc, a Canada-based group, has designed a home that will not only keep residents safe during a tornado, but allow them to live at home for months, even if basic services are cut off.At the house’s centre is a concrete and steel reinforced space that includes the kitchen, bathroom, laundry and an emergency supply closet. There’s a cistern that captures rainwater and filters it, solar panels for electricity, a sun tunnel that can be opened or closed for natural light and Murphy beds.A tornado can destroy a home in four seconds, says Jason Sampson, an architect at Canada-based Q4. “The initial ideal was to ensure some sort of comfortable living situation while disaster relief was put into place,’’ he says. “This could take months, so let’s make sure they have the right systems in place to live there.”Rima Taher, a civil and structural engineer who teaches at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, has published the textbook Building Design for Wind Forces. The strategies behind recent improvements in housing resiliency can be attributed to improved building codes based on research in wind engineering that started back in the 1960s, she says.“We have more knowledge in this field now, and building codes and standards are stronger,” Taher says.Taher frequently gets calls for advice, she says, noting that a couple of important things to focus on are roof design and strong connections between walls, between the walls and the roof, and between the structure and its foundation. Taher advises “hurricane ties”, or straps, to join the roof tightly to walls, and says roofs should be designed with multiple slopes with overhangs limited to less than 20 inches.“The roof can be the first thing to go,” she says.Architects and builders are searching out materials designed for every environment, says Wright, the insurance institute chief executive officer. The group tests home designs in a giant wind tunnel that can simulate hurricanes, rain, hail and flying fire embers.Products made by some of the world’s largest businesses for years are increasingly coming into play, he says, as builders and architects move to meet consumer demands. A DowDuPont roof membrane that keeps the indoors cooler is being tested in brutal heat in India. LafargeHolcim makes a lightweight concrete cladding that was used on a shoreline museum in Miami to add strength to window casings and walls.While few of these materials are new, they are more frequently being experimented with in designs for new homes in storm-prone areas.But it’s not just new houses being worked on with extreme weather in mind. Older houses on the East Coast offer other opportunities for builders. In the Carolinas and on New York’s Long Island, local contractors have raised hundreds of houses six-to-eight feet higher within the past few years, taking advantage of government programmes that popped up after major hurricanes.Mike Rom’s company, Long Island House Lifting, now raises 45 to 50 homes a year at a cost of between $150,000 and $300,000 apiece.In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, he says, “every other house is up in some neighbourhoods”. But it’s not just the big storms that are a problem, according to to Rom. Shoreline areas that used to see street flooding at most two or three times a year now see it monthly.Billy Ward, co-owner of AABC House Moving in Camden, South Carolina, used to raise only one or two homes a year. That’s changed in the wake of hurricanes Matthew, Irma and Florence in 2016, 2017 and 2018.“We all talk about it,” Ward says. “How things have gotten a lot worse.”Tara Patel and Brian K Sullivan contributed to this reportBloomberg
As climate change intensifies, what's under-recognized in the global debate is that one of the most powerful antidotes to the escalating destruction is also one of the simplest and most affordable: trees. Trees absorb more than two billion tons of carbon globally every year -- equivalent to one third of annual fossil fuel emissions, while cleaning our air and protecting our precious drinking water. Just one acre of hardwood trees can offset the entire carbon footprint of 18 people. Each tree we plant is a stalwart protector of our planet, but leading experts warn we're not planting enough trees to mitigate the impact of a changing climate. Between 1990 when scientists from around the world gathered
Thousands of students have joined protests across the country calling on the Government to take action on climate change and better educate children on the risks it poses. Organisers from the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) said around 125 protests have been held in towns and cities across the UK. Demonstrators took to social media to share images and footage of students gathering in London, Brighton, Portsmouth, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Manchester and Cardiff. Young people carried placards reading “climate crisis not climate change”, “there's no plan B”, and “if you won't act like adults we will”. In Bristol, schoolchildren marched against proposals to expand the city's airport. Students protesting
2018 was Earth's 4th-warmest year on record, coming in behind 2016, the planet's warmest recorded year, as well as 2015 and 2017, according to information released by NOAA, NASA and the U.K. Met Office. Why it matters: The yearly rankings don't tell the whole story of long-term climate change, since natural variability can still push or pull an individual year up or down the rankings. However, the overall picture is growing starker with each passing year. Nine of the 10 warmest years on record since reliable data began in 1880 have occurred since 2005. At the same time, greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels — as well as deforestation and intensive agriculture — have skyrocketed to
As Americans gas up for the start of the summer driving season, they'll pay the highest Memorial Day prices at the pump since 2014. And they'll have trouble finding any sort of middle lane in the oil wars of American politics. Voters in 2020 can choose President Donald Trump, who brags about oil production -- the fact that the United States is now the largest producer of oil on Earth. Or voters can opt for the Democratic presidential candidate, whoever it ends up being. All of them agree that humans contribute to climate change -- which is nearly universally described as an existential threat -- and that the US must do something about carbon emissions immediately. Partisan split Nearly every
The Dali Lama expressed a great wisdom when he said that hope is the base of human existence. And in the past, before one died after a long life, that person could be assuaged that as he or she left, whole generations would continue. Today we are at the end of the beginning of an extinction event which parallels the great grand-daddy of them all, the Permian Extinction of 250 million years ago. In fact, we are loading up the atmosphere, and the oceans, with carbon dioxide and 50 other greenhouse gases, and what took centuries in the Permian we are doing in decades. I was an activist and alarmist about climate change for decades, and can stop now as some 70% of our populous understands that the
Scott Morrison, Australia's newly re-elected prime minister, took time in his victory speech to thank the people of Queensland for propelling him to an unlikely victory for his centre-Right Liberal Party. But as the final results rolled in this week, eventually handing Mr Morison an unexpected majority and increased mandate, the northeastern state has faced mischievous calls for a "Quexit". In a move that would see Queensland banished from the rest of Australia, disillusioned Labor voters turned on the region for dumping the Left in favour of Mr Morrison's government - thus killing off ambitious green policies. "We demand ‘Quexit’. Cut them loose!" was a regular cry online, where outrage has been fuelled by the view that Queenslanders selfishly chose coal mining jobs over bolder action on climate change promised by the Labor opposition. “Queensland you are the most affected state from climate change, the Great Barrier Reef, drought riddled farmland, cyclones, floods, yet you decided to vote Liberal? WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MINDS,” wrote one Labor supporter. Scott Morrison thanked Queensland for its support Credit: AP Photo/Rick Rycroft The Quexit mockery also served to highlight the deep divide between progressive urbanites concerned with climate change, and the rural and suburban classes thinking more about jobs and the economy. Writing in The Brisbane Times, the award-winning broadcaster and author, Madonna King, hit back at the patronising critics of Queensland. “The rest of Australia laughs at us…telling us why we are wrong. So south of the border they can call it Quexit, and label us morons, freaks and un-Australian,” she thundered. Queensland is seven times the size of Great Britain, and is often derided as the ‘deep north’ for its perceived conservatism. But it has elected Labor state governments for most of the past 30 years, and has far-reaching centre-left traditions. Underneath the Quexit jokes, however, Queensland does harbour some genuine breakaway tendencies. Robbie Katter, a state MP for Katter’s Australian Party, represents the seat of Traeger, which covers about a third of Queensland and is almost the size of France. Coal is a major industry in Queensland Credit: REUTERS/Daniel Munoz/File Photo/File Photo “We have called for a separate state in north Queensland. It is a terrific idea,” he told the Sunday Telegraph. “We are still clumsily grasping these (state) lines that were drawn on a map 150 years ago and expecting it all to work. People often refer to the north of Queensland splitting away but you often find other western areas of the state saying please don’t leave us behind.” The main grounds for a divorce would be economic independence and the freedom to exploit north Queensland’s natural resources, including coal, without outside meddling from southerners or environmental restrictions. “We’ve got economic decline, population decline, our suicide and crime statistics are getting worse. And we hear from the government that the big challenge of our time is climate change and the Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Katter explained. “It is not that people don’t care about (climate change) but there are other more pressing concerns.” Labor still holds the state government in Queensland. But fearing a wipeout in regional elections next year, this week they accelerated a decision to develop a coal field bigger than the UK.
When Americans work together, we can accomplish great things. We got through the Great Depression in large part because of FDR's New Deal. At a time when we are all facing the worst crisis in human history, the Green New Deal is a powerful resolution to help us put the brakes on the worsening climate crisis, while at the same time improving the lives of everyone. We already have technology that can help us make changes, such as renewable energy from wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal powers. Our economy will be boosted as we replace fossil fuel jobs that are disappearing with new green jobs. Our health will improve as the pollution from fossil fuels is decreased and health care initiatives are
Knock Down the House and the Democratic Party politics of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez By Genevieve Leigh 25 May 2019 The new Netflix documentary Knock Down the House follows four women candidates running in Democratic Congressional primary races against establishment Democrats in 2018: Cori Bush of St. Louis; Amy Vilela of Las Vegas; Paula Jean Swearengin of Coal City, West Virginia.; and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the Bronx, New York, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Of the four women highlighted in the documentary, only Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won in her primary and later in the general election, defeating the fourth most powerful House Democrat, Joe Crowley. Ocasio-Cortez
Europe's first green mosque is hoping to harness the power of Islam to tackle climate change, urging Muslims who worship in the British newbuild to do more to protect the planet. As one of the fastest growing faiths in the world, Islam could be a powerful force if Muslims were stirred to environmental action, climate activists say. Which is where Cambridge Central Mosque steps in. Located in the world-famous British university city, the mosque opened its doors in May just in time for the fasting month of Ramadan. It is adorned with latticed columns, clad in solar panels and surrounded by crab apples, with space for 1,000 and a mission to become a force for climate good. "The mosque symbolizes
Forget oak trees – climate change could lead to palms growing wild across the UK, scientists have warned. The Chinese windmill palm tops a list of ornamental plants that are escaping from greenhouses and flourishing in the wild. British gardeners have reported that the palms are 'self-seeding' – reproducing without human help – and it is thought to be a matter of time before they become a familiar sight in woods and fields around the country. The slow growing palm is native to China and Myanmar, but has spread across the world. It can reach heights of 66ft, can tolerate high altitudes and is resistant to cold as its trunk is covered in woolly fibre. It is a familiar sight in Torbay on the 'Cornish
“Saving the planet” should be an unbeatable political slogan. Yet consistently the imagined “green wave” mindlessly embraced by most of the media continues to fall short, as evidenced by recent elections in Canada and Australia, as well as across much of Europe. These results reflect climate scientist Roger Pielke's 2010 notion of “the iron law of climate policy.” Pielke noted that support for reducing greenhouse emissions is limited by the amount of sacrifice demanded. “People will pay some amount for climate goals,” he noted, “but only so much.” At $80 a year per household, he suggested, polls found most people would support climate measures but raise it to $770 annually and support drops
The twenty-first century has witnessed its own set of advantages and disadvantages. While communication has become swifter, research sources are available at the click of a finger, and Artificial Intelligence has unveiled an impressive array of aids to elevate experimentations for scientists and scholars; although state-of-the-art lifestyle has come closer to reality, life is not all rosy for living beings of the present century. While we may be staying in glass houses, outside we are breathing poisonous, polluted air containing hazardous gases like sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides. People are dying with lung cancer, attributing to breathing unhealthy air from the surrounding vicinity.
The Mandala Center for Change will present “Our Suffering Earth,” an interactive performance and community dialogue on climate change featuring the Poetic Justice Theater Ensemble at 4 p.m. today. The performance will be at the Finnriver Farm and Cidery, 124 Center Road, Chimacum. Today, a youth-led Global Strike for Future will take place with actions, community dialogue and arts events around the world, according to Marc Weinblatt of the Mandala Center for Change, based at Fort Worden.
GENEVA, Switzerland (CMC) — Ministers of Health from across the region have pledged to work together to respond to climate change, extreme weather events and certain health challenges, among other things. The Caribbean health ministers along with health officials from the Pacific, met here to discuss opportunities for cooperation and exchange regarding good practices in climate change and resilient health systems, regulatory frameworks, health security and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Small island states in the Caribbean and the Pacific face a number of common challenges. “We do not need to reinvent the wheel. We can learn from each other and save resources and time,” said the Minister of