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Report: Going 'Natural' May be Best Weather Insurance

PHOTO: One acre of wetland can absorb as much as 1 million gallons of water, according to a report from the National Wildlife Federation. Wetlands restoration and preservation is listed as a smart investment to protect lives and property in the face of more extreme weather. Photo of Wood River Wetland courtesy of BLM.
PHOTO: One acre of wetland can absorb as much as 1 million gallons of water, according to a report from the National Wildlife Federation. Wetlands restoration and preservation is listed as a smart investment to protect lives and property in the face of more extreme weather. Photo of Wood River Wetland courtesy of BLM.
October 29, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. - Protection that's natural is least expensive and may be best when it comes to threats to life and property in Oregon because of floods and coastal storms.

According to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation, investments in natural infrastructure need to be boosted as severe weather continues to happen more often, with some events connected to climate change.

Report author Patty Glick, a senior climate-change specialist at the federation, said they found that natural flood control, such as wetlands, tend to be overlooked.

"We also tend to undervalue the benefits that natural infrastructure, such as the vegetation along our rivers and streams, can provide for us," she said.

The report recommends strengthening the Clean Water Act, as well as making improvements to the federal flood-insurance program to better reflect true risks of building in flood zones.

Wesley Dupont, executive vice president and general counsel for the insurance company Allied World, said it makes good business sense to take proactive steps to protect communities, especially given the impact of climate change.

"They need to begin to think about cost-effective, nature-based approaches to risk mitigation," he said. "It just makes good business sense."

The report estimated that for every $1 spent on natural infrastructure restoration and improvements, $4 can be saved in weather-damage expenses.

The report, "Surviving Climate Change with Natural Defenses," is online at nwf.org.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - OR