Hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters can be truly devastating. Not only are precious lives lost, but property damage can decimate local communities and business activity. As concerns over climate change cause many to fear stronger or more frequent storms, one simple solution stands ready to protect lives, economic activity, and property.

While deliberate attention should be given to innovation of environmentally-friendly energy development, not all solutions come from decreasing carbon emissions. We must also strengthen our infrastructure to withstand weak and strong storms alike, whether caused by the hand of God or anthropogenic influence.

The strength of a storm should not determine its deadliness or impact in a 21st Century developed country. With the right building codes, safety features, and precautions, the rains, winds, and floods could be mere nuisances rather than killers.

It starts with a decision to expend resources on the front end. It may be more expensive to develop infrastructure at higher standards than required, but this decision pays off when natural disasters do not produce the damage of years past.

Levees, storm walls, bulkheads, and other flood and storm surge controllers must be reinforced and maintained. When water inevitably surpasses these features, there must be a place for it to go. Depending on the geography and topography, certain types of porous concrete may be useful to encourage drainage. In most cases, greater capacity storm drains and runoff infrastructure are needed. This way, water does not linger to exacerbate costs and threaten lives.

Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center explains it this way, “If the aim is to reduce storm damage, then first focus on resilience.”

The key is not to ignore climate change, but to prepare for the worst in the ways we can make progress. Public policy should encourage private investment in better infrastructure while setting the rules to improve resilience.


Learn more about resilient infrastructure.


Written by Benjamin R. Dierker, Director of Public Policy


The Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii) is an independent, national research and educational organization. An innovative think tank, Aii explores the intersection of economics, law, and public policy in the areas of climate, damage prevention, energy, infrastructure, innovation, technology, and transportation.