The 100 Year Storm – Coming to You 3 Times this Decade

For this week’s Fall Through the Cracks Friday we turn to a great article which appeared on Insurance Journal’s website this week. According to the article, and research conducted by MIT and Princeton, those fabled ‘100 year storms’ that are held as epic events are actually much more frequent than once per century. In fact, these 100 year events can actually occur every 3 to 20 years!

From the article:

Today, a “100-year storm” means a surge flood of about two meters, on average, in New York. Roughly every 500 years, the region experiences towering, three-meter-high surge floods. Both scenarios, Lin notes, would easily top Manhattan’s seawalls, which stand 1.5 meters high.

But with added greenhouse gas emissions, the models found that a two-meter surge flood would instead occur once every three to 20 years; a three-meter flood would occur every 25 to 240 years.

“The highest [surge flood] was 3.2 meters, and this happened in 1821,” Lin says. “That’s the highest water level observed in New York City’s history, which is like a present 500-year event.”

Carol Friedland, an assistant professor of construction management and industrial engineering at Louisiana State University, said she sees the group’s results as a useful tool to inform coastal design — particularly as most buildings are designed with a 60 to 120-year “usable lifespan.”

Check out the entire article at InsuranceJournal.com.

Enjoy the upcoming weekend!

 

 

Climate Change and Its Potential Impacts on Professional Lines (PLUS Journal Archive)

The unseasonably warm winter we’re experiencing (at least in Minnesota) brings to mind preview of an article from Issue XXIII, Volume 8 of the PLUS Journal (August 2010). In it,  authors  J. Randolph Evans and Christina M. Carroll look at the potential professional liability exposures relating to global climate change. From the article:

The Lull Before the Storm: Climate Change and Its Potential Significant and Imminent Impacts on Professional Lines

In the coming years, insurers may face increasing claims arising out of engineers, architects, consultants, and accountants’ performance of climate change-related work. Green building — which refers to the use of environmentally preferable practices and materials in the design, location, construction, operation, and disposal of new buildings [iii] — may be at the center of many of these future claims. Green building is hot and in high demand in part because it may reduce the need for fossil fuels and thereby lower GHG emissions. A recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report found that buildings represent the greatest opportunity for considerable GHG emissions reductions with an economic benefit as opposed to loss.[iv]

 

While green building presents a new opportunity for industry and insurers, it also could mean more claims. For example, if a professional fails to take promised steps to mitigate GHGs in a “green building” project, causing a loss of LEED certification or loss of tax benefits, the client may have a suit against the professional. Already, there has been at least one lawsuit related to failures of a contractor to deliver a LEED-certified green building.[v]

 

Climate change-related claims also could arise out of a wide variety of other professional activities. As EPA, states, and non-profits demand disclosure of GHG emissions, professionals will be called on to account for or calculate GHG emissions for corporate clients for reports to EPA or other federal or state authorities. Companies will rely on these professionals to help prepare reports pursuant to the EPA GHG Reporting Rule [vi] and in connection with preparation of environmental impact statements (EISs) related to obtaining permits for projects at the state and local level. Many states are now requiring that climate change impacts are considered in EIS reports.  If professionals make mistakes in the course of reporting or preparing EISs, their customers may file claims against them. Professionals also could be subject to liability if there are problems arising from misrepresentations or mistakes made in connection with installation of emissions reduction solutions and possibly handling of carbon credits. Lawyers who fail to identify climate change as an issue in advising clients also may be subject to claims. Professionals facing these various claims may seek E&O coverage.

PLUS members can read the entire article on  www.plusweb.org.You must log in to the website to view this content.

Footnotes:

[iii] Commission for Environmental Cooperation, Green Building in North America: Opportunities and Challengesat 4 (2008).

[iv] Id. at 34.

[v] Counter-Complaint, S. Builders, Inc. v. Shaw Dev., LLC, Case No. 19-C-07-011405 (Md. Cir. Ct. Somerset County Feb. 16, 2007).

[vi] EPA, Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases, 74 Fed. Reg. 56,260 (Oct. 30, 2009).