Houston Launches Resilience Plan To Prepare For Its New Normal

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner signs Resilient Houston plan     Photo: Mark Mulligan, Houston Chronicle 

Houston has been deluged by six major flooding events in the last five years, including Tropical Storm Imelda last September — five of which resulted in federal disaster declarations.  Now, in order to turn the page and get ahead of these disasters, the City of Houston has adopted a plan to prepare the city for what is expected to be more of the same for decades to come due to climate change — through a range of actions such as the planting of 4.6 million new trees and the removal of all homes from city floodways.

Why This Matters:  FEMA studies have shown that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — $1 invested before a disaster saves on average more than $5 after — and sometimes much more.  Houston has been hit hard by severe storms and they are vying for a big portion of the $4.3 billion in federal mitigation grants allocated to Texas, which will be rolled out through the General Land Office.  They are also seeking to make the most of Hurricane Harvey disaster recovery funding because these fixes are not cheap.  Shell Oil funded the development of the plan — but given big oil’s connection to Houston’s climate change problem – perhaps the company should also fund some of the solutions.  Ironically, making the city carbon-neutral by 2050 is also an objective of the plan — it includes creating 500 miles of additional bike lanes to take cars off the road.  Perhaps other cities will follow Houston’s forward-leaning resilience blueprint.

How Houston Plans to Solve Its Problem

According to the Houston Chronicle, the plan “addresses resiliency at five scales — people, neighborhoods, bayous, the city and the region — and sets 18 targets, along with a corresponding set of 62 actions to make those happen.”  Not all the actions are new, but the plan provides a structure to ensure coordination across the city government.  Here are some of the major actions the plan calls for:

Up Next

Saving Biodiversity Boosts Global Output by Tens to Hundreds of Billions Annually

Saving Biodiversity Boosts Global Output by Tens to Hundreds of Billions Annually

A new study by leading economists and scientists released yesterday makes a strong case for conserving at least 30% of the planet by demonstrating that investing in nature as opposed to using it up yields significantly better economic results as well as saving money that would otherwise be spent on the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss.

Why This Matters:  Since it is TBT I (Monica) will harken back to 1992’s political mantra — “it’s the economy, stupid.”

Continue Reading 451 words
Recycling Struggling Due to Pandemic and Electronic Waste Breaks Records

Recycling Struggling Due to Pandemic and Electronic Waste Breaks Records

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused turmoil in recycling programs and markets for recycled goodsMeanwhile, a UN report released last week found that electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record of 53.6 million tons or about 16 pounds per person.

Why This Matters: And while residential waste is greatly increasing, fewer materials are being recycled other than cardboard, which is much in demand.  Recycling, like so many other local programs, needs federal financial support and soon.

Continue Reading 523 words
Ford Takes Comprehensive Approach To Sustainability, Will Be Carbon Neutral by 2050

Ford Takes Comprehensive Approach To Sustainability, Will Be Carbon Neutral by 2050

In its annual Sustainability Report, Ford Motors made several key pledges in addition to the promise to be carbon neutral as a company by 2050.  In addition, they will use 100 percent locally sourced renewable energy for all manufacturing plants globally by 2035, aspire to achieve zero air emissions from our facilities, only use recycled and renewable plastics in our vehicles globally and eliminate single-use plastics from our operations by 2030, and achieve true zero waste to landfill across our operations, among other social responsibility commitments.

Why This Matters:  Other car companies have focused on products — Daimler Chrysler, VW, and Tesla come to mind.

Continue Reading 596 words