USA — Studies show that for every dollar invested in pre-disaster mitigation to make communities more resilient and prepared for floods, droughts and other climate hazards, Americans save $3 to $4 — and the White House has proposed upping investments in such areas.
“The goal for investment in climate preparedness and resilience is clear: to proactively reduce the risks communities and ecosystems face, rather than waiting until after disaster strikes,” Ali Zaidi, the natural resources, energy and science associate director at the Office of Management and Budget, writes in a Feb. 20 blog post.
He says the federal government has spent $300 billion directly on extreme weather events and fires alone over the last 10 years. For example, it spent $176 billion for domestic disaster response and relief, $61 billion for crop insurance, $34 billion for wildland fire management and $24 billion for flood insurance.
“While it is not possible to identify the portion of these costs incurred as a result of climate change, costs for each of these federal programs have been increasing and can be expected to continue to increase as the impacts of climate change intensify,” Zaidi adds.
In the post, he outlines planned higher investments in several areas in the proposed fiscal 2016 spending plan that was unveiled in early February.
For example, the budget includes $400 million for National Flood Insurance Program Risk Mapping efforts, representing about an 85 percent increase over the current spending level. The initiative is designed to help communities see the areas with flood risks.
Under the proposed budget, the Agriculture Department will provide information and guidance to farmers, ranchers and other landowners on the latest technologies and risk-management strategies that takes climate change into consideration. Other programs emphasize mitigation and adaptation projects and water conservation efforts.
Zaidi also writes that the administration is proposing a new funding framework for wildland fire suppression, similar to how other natural disasters are funded. But he did not offer any more details.
Additionally, the budget earmarks $4 million for a so-called Resilience Corps pilot program that would hire about 200 AmeriCorps members, who would help communities plan and address climate change impacts. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will get $2 million to train these members.
Plus, the currently existing Army Corps of Engineers’s Silver Jackets program would get $31 million to provide technical and planning assistance to communities to mitigate flood risks.