3.2 Rhetoric and Climate Science: Organizational Influence on Public Policy Related to Hurricane Harvey

Tuesday, 8 January 2019: 10:45 AM
North 226C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Joseph E. Trujillo, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; and C. Conrad

Anthropogenic climate change has caused parts of the world to adapt to drastic changes since the Industrial Revolution. As we approach the critical years of consequences from the dynamic phenomenon, public policy formation has failed to adapt to our changing climate. This study focuses on a specific case study in the coastal region after Major Hurricane Harvey devastated the area on August 25-29, 2017. The cities that were impacted by the storm had the capacity, the population, and the regulation (or lack of) to make the disaster noteworthy. Forbes magazine has named Houston as the 5th fastest growing city in America. The booming economy can be attributed to the region’s growth formula, based on abundant, cheap housing and a strategy of attracting employers by minimizing corporate taxes and regulation, including environmental. Due to the focus on expansion, regulation for building new homes in the metropolitan area have been lax. Not only that, but, with many areas located in floodplains, Houston is home to one of the six most dangerous dams (out of 700) in America, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Public policy formation has revolved around the developers, as flood mitigation plans and construction have been largely ignored. An extensive analysis of policy decisions by the local government and organizations prior to the cyclone will be evaluated to see whether metropolitan areas of Houston were truly prepared for such a calamity. Furthermore, a proposed solution will be offered to mediate catastrophe if this type of event were to ever happen again.
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