Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Decree First, Data Last

The Hayward-San Mateo Bridge from the levee trail (2013).
Foster City's levees were built to withstand a once-a-century flood, therefore homeowners are not required by lenders to buy flood insurance. However, in 2015 the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) "new modeling methodology and new regulations....concluded that roughly 85 percent of the city’s levee system is not adequate."

Foster City must raise the levees by 5.5 feet, plus an additional margin for sea-level rise, at an estimated cost of $75 million. The project would be completed by 2020. If it doesn't do this, most property owners will have to buy flood insurance.

Last October FEMA helpfully advised "Californians to buy flood insurance, even if they live in areas of low to moderate risk" because of "drenching El Niño rains."

1) El Niño has helped alleviate the drought, but a respected meteorologist said the forecasted heavy rains were overhyped.
2) Vast sums have been and will be spent because people believe in the forecasts of computer models (climate change, El Niño, floods). Why should we believe FEMA's new, supposedly improved, flood models when it's been so wrong about El Niño? FEMA is also wrong about projected sea-level rise because its models could not possibly have included last week's development [bold added]:
the increasingly hot and parched Earth is absorbing some of that water inland, slowing sea level rise, NASA experts said Thursday [Feb. 11].
3) When the science is not settled, hold off on the mandates, put the information out there, and let people decide for themselves. (By the way, we have weighed the premium cost against the economic benefits, in addition to the probabilities, and bought earthquake insurance for the past 20 years, though there are no requirements to do so. It's a private decision, as we hope flood insurance will be.)

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