Thoughts on Flooding



Thoughts on Flooding

Unless you live in a bubble, you’ve no doubt observed significant flooding somewhere in the last few weeks.  News sources are busy talking about how dangerous this is, how much damage it might cause, etc.  But I have yet to hear any one of them mention this might just be a weather pattern we will continue to see in years to come.  I hope I’m wrong, but I fear I may not be.

I happen to subscribe to the belief that global warming is a reality and we are going to see some significant weather shifts over the course of my lifetime.  It will likely come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog that NASA released a study last month citing road transportation as a key driver of global warming.  We see a glimmer of hope from our Secretary of Transportation, Ray Lahood, when he announced a new US DOT policy statement concerning walking and biking. A day later, the Courthouse News Service reports that some members of congress

suggested LaHood was taking drugs, dismissed the very idea of bike lanes and derided any change to a car-dependent society.

I’m not biased against cars, but I will admit I’m biased towards transportation options that make the most sense.  Frequently, this means the personal automobile is not the best choice.  I’m still optimistic that American’s will come around to this way of thinking, some day.  I just hope it’s not too late at that point.

As I walk around our flooded streets, I can’t help but think to myself, what would this World be like with less pavement?  Perhaps we can slow global warming AND protect against flooding like this by ripping up some of this pavement and replacing it with grass, trees, and plants.  Wouldn’t that be nice?


  • Geoff
    Mar 30, 2010 at 11:19 am

    it would be really nice… I think Bill Niering (RIP)… would agree.

    But flood plains exist for a reason. Rivers flood. It happens. And no one should build a house on one. Much less buy one on one.

    Flood plains should be turned into seasonal parks. Green spaces. bike commuter paths (which would be inconvenient right now but how many besides me are commuting today by bike?)

    Fewer cars would always be good. Fewer but better roads would be best.

  • Mar 30, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    While I believe that the preponderance of the evidence points toward human-caused climate change, I think it is a bad idea to say that weather event X is a direct result of climate change. This is the same faulty logic that many climate change deniers used during the big snow storms earlier in the winter. Remember? "This huge snow storm that we are having right here on this portion of the east coast _proves_ that global warming is a scam!" The deniers' display of ignorance was pretty staggering.

    But I know what you're saying. Will this be the shape of things to come? More rain, more huge storms, more 48 hour stretches of continuous rain? Probably.

    The massive amounts of paving we now have can only do one thing with large amounts of rainfall – turn it into runoff thus exacerbating floods. It is nice to think about the idea of fewer roads. I almost can't imagine a concerted effort to turn paved areas back into green space. I hope to see it happen some day.

  • Mar 31, 2010 at 5:49 am

    Actually, it's unfortunate that the name chosen for the changes is "global warming". I think they would have been much better served to use something like "global climate change". Everything I've read points to the changes causing increased temperatures in some areas and decreased average temperatures in other areas. I think the major trend we are likely to see though is more severe weather patterns and taht this month is an example of what we might well see more of in the future. Last total I saw was over 15" of rain this month, simply amazing!

  • Labann
    Mar 31, 2010 at 7:46 am

    Global climate change is a syndrome with multiple causes, not just atmospheric pollution from carbon burning but deforestation of equatorial jungles, desertification caused by paving and unchecked plowing of fields, erosion and loess loss, killing of blue green algae and plankton in oceans which account for majority of oxygen production. All this causes excessive heat in tropics, evaporation of sea water into atmosphere; results in excessive rain and snow, huge storms, even more frequent tornados.

    Mankind hasn't been a good steward. Some people argue that a few billion humans can't assail mighty Mother Nature, nohow. James Lovelock discovered in the 1960's, quite by accident, that manmade CFC (no natural source) were directly responsible for a huge polar hole in the protective ozone layer. Since CFC use was all but banned, the hole seems to be repairing itself… at least its edges are blurring. The implication is that Nature will heal itself over time, but not necessarily on a schedule that will preserve human life on this planet.

    Where were you when Ocean State Electric plunked a secret power generating plant in the Burrillville woods right on the MA border? Did you even notice they've defoliated Skunkamunkanuc Hill in Johnston behind Home Depot? This after destroying migratory patterns of amphibians, birds and reptiles with I-295. Songbirds fly from tree to tree, but only gulls and pigeons (rats with wings) go to Johnston anymore. Rhode Island leads the country in misguided land use; seems only fitting that it would suffer floods that undermine supports of its 775 bridges across scores of coves and rivers. It's a lowland like Holland, yet water taxis are practically unheard of here.

    I believe all bike paths are currently affected by floods. Blackstone bikeway was washed out in Manvllle last time it crested, and it took years to get it restored. Manton is closed where Northwest Trail and Woonasquatucket River crosses it. Not sure about South County and WSBP.

  • Geoff
    Mar 31, 2010 at 9:18 am

    East Bay Bike Path (at least the section I ride) is total unaffected by this latest bit of weather. Unless you count barrington's sewer bubbling up out of manhole covers north of crescent view.

    That's only the stretch from the City to the Barrington Town Line.

  • Labann
    Mar 31, 2010 at 9:31 am

    This just in from ABC news: Beware of riding/walking through puddles. Many manhole covers displaced, so you could fall in.

  • Labann
    Mar 31, 2010 at 9:33 am

    EBBP is closed in Bristol, forgot to mention, at the Sip & Dip.

  • Labann
    Apr 1, 2010 at 6:41 am

    If you ride up Simmonsville Ave from Rt 5, where the Cedar Swamp Brook crosses you come upon a plaque which memorializes the 18 souls lost in the Spring of 1840 when the dam broke after heavy rains. The thriving mill village of Simmonsville never recovered.

    If Johnston wasn't so defoliated with both the dump and recent developments, the Pocasset River wouldn't displace citizens every time it rains. The Warwick Mall under water, since that's where Meshanticut Brook, which drains all of defoliated Western Cranston, drains into Pawtuxet River. Dyer Pond, Randall Pond, Simmonsville Reservoir, etc/ could be better dammed and dredged to hold release water gradually, but who'd pay for it? Utilities aren't interested in creating small electrical generators at various points because they prefer to burn gas and oil, so your gasoline prices stay high.

  • Ted Lewandowski
    Apr 1, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Too bad the flooding did not cover this ENTIRE God-forsaken state!

  • Labann
    Apr 30, 2010 at 9:33 am

    The pavement on EBBP has been restored at the Sip & Dip. Don't know if entire facility is problem free, but bicyclists are using it throughout Warren.