A Fulbright Scholar with more than 13 years experience with the Sea Grant Consortium (http://www.scseagrant.org), Ms. Davidson clearly demonstrated her command of climatology by walking us through the possible impacts of global warming and rising sea levels.
“What we are about to cover are not the views of my agency; these are my assessments,” said Davidson, setting the stage for a direct and candid perspective of likely scenarios. “So, the question is, what is your individual tolerance for risk? I’m sure a few of you have wonderful properties on the water that I’m sure you want to leave to your grandchildren. What do you think you’ll be leaving them? I’m just saying…” She added that by most projections, we can expect about a 5 meter growth in tides over the next twenty years -- “that’s ‘meters’ not feet, you’re with me right?”
Her data citation included a chilling table showing the dramatic increase in the number of billion dollar disasters (financial impacts) that once numbered a few per year, now number close to 14 per year for a total impact nearing $200 billion. (Source: Western Kentucky University) “So clearly, the number of weather related major events has grown substantially; this is not a short-term cycle.”
“Sandy was a major turning point and wake-up call,” said Davidson, commenting on how we need to change the way in which we interpret meteorological data and our response strategies.
Commenting on what seems to be some degree of apathy by the public, she argued for the importance of tools that provide strong visualization of the climatic impacts. “When you can see the potential in living color and the animation of risk, it has a different effect.”
Insured values of properties will be changing for coastal properties. She shared an actuarial table showing, by state, the estimated costs to replace properties. For South Carolina, ranking at the midpoint of all states, that value in 2007 is $192 billion. (Source: AIR Worldwide)
If we scan the globe for case examples, the Dutch jump out as among the more visionary land use and water management architects. “See how they take a 10,000 year view,” noted Davidson. “They lead the way with compelling examples of berms, forestation and other strategies that are what we call ‘Design with Nature.’”
We need to increase our public/private strategies. The costs and logistics are too great for any enterprise to bear alone. “And, the most important thing we need to do is hold gatherings like this one. We need to step up the dialog and have a clear understanding of what we can and should do to mitigate the risks and preserve our good quality of life.”
“We should not wait for a disaster to achieve better resilience today,” said Davidson, imploring the group to think now about tomorrow. “The need for change is here, the time to act is now.”
Thank you, Ms. Davidson, for sharing your urgent perspective of our pressing geologic and atmospheric challenges. There is succinct and concise. And then there is your direct counsel, “we’re just saying…” We are grateful for your expertise and clarion call for discussion and innovation. You are welcome at our club any time!
-- Submitted by Mark Danes, Keyway Committee