Make Our Communities More Resilient
As conservatives, we plan ahead. When it comes to natural disasters, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. One dollar invested now equals six dollars after the disaster.
We can help take common sense measures and make sound investments that make our communities and farms more resistant to natural disasters like floods, fires and droughts.
Communities forced to rebuild from flooding
Why make our communities more resilient?
Natural disasters are becoming much more common. Flooding is increasing at an exponential rate. This is caused by:
- Less natural spaces for water to drain, made worse by irresponsible development
- Heavier and more frequent rainfall events, driven by climate change
- Rising sea levels, also driven by climate change, that bottle up rivers and drainage systems
A national survey of municipal flood and stormwater managers revealed that 83% had experienced flooding in their communities.
For a majority of Americans, two-thirds of their wealth is in their home. One flood can wipe out a lifetime of savings.
Poor forest management practices coupled with warmer and drier conditions are drastically increasing the fire season. Wildfires not only emit a massive amount of carbon, but they also can be devastating for wildlife, ecosystems and air quality.
Healthy forests should have approximately 30-40 trees per acre. Many forests today have over 300 trees per acre. Overcrowded forests promote fires in two ways:
- Trees aren’t able to get enough water which creates ideal conditions for infestation from insects like pine beetles. Trees then become fragile and much more combustible.
- Too many trees creates extra “fuel” that makes forest fires much worse.
Helping farmers make their farms more resilient
Crop production depends on access to healthy soil, adequate water supplies and predictable weather conditions, all of which are more difficult to manage as the climate changes.
Following severe flooding in the spring of 2019, lenders in the Midwest reported that 70% of their borrowers were moderately or severely affected by extreme weather events. That year, the portion of the region’s agricultural loan portfolio reported as having “major” or “severe” repayment problems hit the highest level in 20 years.
Upgrade our data. The rainfall data used for drainage systems is usually out of date and almost never adjusted for future weather conditions. Click here to see your real flood risk.
Invest wisely. One dollar of investment saves $6 after the flood. We are not investing in infrastructure needed to move water out of harm’s way. The American Society of Civil Engineers scorecard gives our flood infrastructure a D. See the graphic of ASCE and D
Reduce and simplify government grant programs. Currently there are 17!
Hold local and state governments accountable by only funding those with up to date plans.
Urban pond treats stormwater
Forests can be profitably maintained by thinning to a prescribed amount of trees per acre. The Healthy Forest Restoration Act, passed in 2003, was successful in improving forest health. However, this program expired after 19 million acres of forest were improved. We should re-enact this bill to cover up to 380 million acres.
Thinning forests is a proven way to reduce wildfire risk while keeping ecosystems healthy.
Controlled burning clears out undergrowth and excess “fuel.” American Indians used controlled burns to manage undergrowth for centuries. We need to do the same.
Incentivize cover crops and crop rotations.
Improve soil health through no or limited-tilling practices.