31th March 2014
New report warns of "cascading system failure" caused by climate change
Warning that climate-fueled storms, flooding and droughts could cause "cascading system failures" unless there are changes made to
minimize those effects, are detailed in new reports put together through the US National Climate Assessment, a major review compiled
by 13 government agencies that the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which are expected to release in April. Scientists at the
Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory put together the reports.
A central theme of the report is that vulnerabilities and impacts are issues beyond physical infrastructures themselves. The concern is
with the value of services provided by infrastructures, where the true consequences of impacts and disruptions involve not only the costs
associated with the cleanup, repair, and/or replacement of affected infrastructures but also economic, social, and environmental effects
as supply chains are disrupted, economic activities are suspended, and/or social well-being is threatened.
Previous extreme weather events, which scientists warn may be exacerbated by climate change, offer insight to the types of failures
they're talking about. For example, during Hurricane Katrina, the loss of electricity in the region meant that several major oil pipelines
could not ship oil and gas for several days, and some refineries could not operate. Gas prices rose around the country. The report adds
that fixing infrastructure resilience problems [requires] a partnership between different levels of government, industry, nongovernmental
organizations, and community groups. For more on the report: