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Development, laws make storm damage worse
Letter to the editor
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Editor: We would hope that many would learn from this year’s "natural disasters."

Among other revelations, as described by an MIT climate expert, is that there’s no longer anything "natural" about these storms and the damage they cause. (See "Why it’s time to stop calling these hurricane disasters ‘natural’," by Kerry Emanuel, The Washington Post.)

Unfortunately, state and federal policies are complicit in these events, and taxpayers are burdened with the ever-rising billions in costs for the consequences. In recent news coverage, it’s been reported that FEMA has paid for rebuilding the same at-risk properties that have repeatedly flooded — in some cases laying out a total many times the value of the property itself.

When foolhardy decisions to build in flood-prone areas are cushioned by federal flood-insurance, bad behavior is rewarded. Now we’re told of new FEMA maps that actually LOWER the risk and insurance cost for many areas that face growing hazards in a world of dangerously rising sea-level and devastating storm-surges. Surely — whatever the opportunistic political advantages — this is sheer madness, a recipe for escalating, costly disasters.

Even worse, many continue to blithely compound these problems by dogmatically denying well-documented science that demonstrates how burning fossil fuels is adding to both rising seas and storm intensity.

Until we come to grips with unsavory realities by following the lead of Atlanta and other cities by aiming to deeply curb fossil-fuel use, hurricane seasons will take greater tolls, and our future will be darkened by self-inflicted tragedy.

David C. Kyler

Center for a Sustainable Coast

St. Simon’s Island

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