February 13, 2018 With guest host Jane Clayson.
President Donald Trump releases an infrastructure plan that he says will generate upwards of $1.5 trillion in investment. Can he finally bring everything from our bridges to our water systems up to snuff — and make America modern agaiin.
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Ed Rendell, former governor of Pennsylvania, co-chair of Building America’s Future Educational Fund. (@GovEdRendell)
Nick Sobczyk, reporter for E&E News. (@nick_sobczyk)
Dean Franks, senior vice president for congressional relations at the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.
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[Analysts of President Trump’s infrastructure “plan” have observed that it is in fact no plan at all — especially since it ignores the key component of what will be crucial for any rational infrastructure planning from now onward. It is clear to anyone who considers the issues that climate change has to be at the center of all planning procedures going forward.
Scientists have been arguing for many years that as a country, as a civilization as a species we will need to get beyond the “emergency response” mode and move into some sober long-term planning for the infrastructure. This will be necessary to cope with sea-level rise, agricultural collapse, fresh-water scarcity and the predictable ensuing human migrations and exploding public health problems that are already rampant in ever larger regions of the world. We need to think about the next stages of “Vulnerability & Preparedness Analysis” and long-term “Resilience & Adaptation Planning.”
President Trump’s much trumpeted “infrastructure” plan does not address these questions adequately, simply because it is not based on sound science and therefore ignores the context within which all infrastructural planning needs to take place — that is, the natural world in which human civilization is embedded. Sea-level is not a “Democratic conspiracy.” Climate change is not a Chinese hoax. ]
Fortunately, although the United States suffers now from a total lack of adequate vision to guide its national infrastructure planning, there are signs that citizens are getting organized throughout the country on a municipal and regional basis to address pressing problems with the best science available. These citizen-science alliances are sponsoring new kinds of public educational initiatives like the Beacon Hill Seminar series of eight sessions in Boston on “Climate Vulnerability.”
The Honorable Tip O’Neil was famous for saying that “All politics is local.” It may well be that for the foreseeable future as well all effective action on climate will have to be local as well. The urgency for action is becoming ever more apparent.]