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Hurricanes and sea level rise threaten us all.

Although the summer's first tropical storm to make U.S. landfall, Claudette, avoided doing significant damage, we're now in the midst of hurricane season. As Hurricane Bill looms in the Atlantic, a National Hurricane Center spokesperson warns that thanks in part to warm ocean water, Bill is "in a very good environment to continue to strengthen." However, despite the large number of people who live in the paths of coastal storms and the threat climate change and its impacts on weather and oceans present, governments still treat each tempest as an individual crisis rather than incorporating them into an ongoing disaster response strategy. As Timothy Beatley notes in Planning for Coastal Resilience, this case-by-case basis method has failed us time and time again. He argues that in the face of climate change, causing increased intensity and frequency of storms and sea level rise, coastal planning must go beyond reactive strategies. We must initiate a concept of resilience-the ability to withstand or quickly recover from a natural or human-induced disaster by building smaller, decentralized networks for energy, water, and transportation. His book pushes for anticipating future disasters and planning accordingly, instead of waiting for the next $80 billion storm surge. Threats from climate change go far beyond more intense storms, they also include an anticipated rise in sea level by as much as seven feet as projected in a 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change study. From London to South Australia to Alaska and South Carolina, governments are beginning to realize the impact these rising sea levels will have on communities and infrastructures. In The Rising Sea, Orrin Pilkey and Rob Young assert rising sea levels are inevitable, and many coastal cities will have to adapt quickly. With over half the U.S. population living in coastal regions, and entire islands and nations facing the prospect of slipping under the sea, there is much work to do, and there are many difficult choices to make, but there is hope--if we act quickly. This post was originally sent to our email subscribers. Sign up for the next one!