Brigadier General Gerald Galloway, Jr.

Brigadier General Gerald Galloway, Jr.
I want to start off by stipulating that certainly we can all agree
that climate change is an issue. It is all of the things you see in
Figure 1, and worst of all, it is the combination of all of these
things. Importantly, too, the chart does not include such effects
as subsidence that creates relative sea-level rise in many locations. So, we are faced with some very interesting challenges as
we move forward.
Climate change impacts are not only a U.S. problem but
also a world problem, which means that wherever our forces are
deployed and wherever we have bases and infrastructure, we will
have to keep this in mind. The other aspect of this is the way we
think about the future.
Brigadier General Gerald Galloway, Jr., is a Glenn L. Martin Institute
Professor of Engineering and Affiliate Professor of Public Policy at the
University of Maryland, where he teaches and conducts research in
national water resources policy and management, flood mitigation, and
disaster management. He has served as a consultant to national and
international government and business organizations. He is currently
an advisor to The Nature Conservancy on its Yangtze River Program,
a member of the Louisiana Governor’s commission on coastal protection, and co-chair of the World Water Assessment Programme’s Experts
Group on Policy and was recently appointed by the Secretary of State as
one of three inaugural Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas
Fellows. He has been Presidential appointee to the Mississippi River
Commission and was assigned to the White House to lead a study of the
1993 Mississippi River Flood. He served in the U.S. Army for 38 years,
retiring as a Brigadier General and Dean of Academics at West Point.
He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow
of the National Academy of Public Administration.
Climate and Energy Proceedings 2011
Figure 1. Stipulation: There Are Climate Challenges
I like Figure 2 a lot, because it tells the way I grew up. In the
old days, you looked at planning from the present to the future,
and you looked down a narrow tube and you saw at the end what
it might be like in 50 years. It looked almost like it did today. You
could assume that, especially in terms of climate, things would be
about the same. As a hydrologist, I had all sorts of formulas that
were based on stationarity—the concept that the future can be
based on the past.
Figure 2. Planning for Uncertainty [1]
Somebody reported 2 years ago that stationarity is dead. What
does that mean? Well, it means that the future is going to be far
different than the past. Instead of looking down a thin pipe, we
are now looking out through a cone. That total area there shown
by the cone is the space of potential variability—the broad set of
potential scenarios that might occur as the result of climate change.
Chapter 3 Adapting Infrastructure to Climate Challenges
Sea-level rise might be 0.8 meters, or it might be 2 or 3 meters.
Right now, we really do not know. And you can stack into that all
of the other changes that are occurring around us. So, planning
under uncertainty today has yet to be figured out.
I will give you a clue. If you want to build a levee somewhere
in the United States, you ask, well, what is the 100-year flood going
to be in 50 years? It is not going to be what it is today; it is going to
be considerably different. But we do not know yet what it is going
to be. So how do you plan under those sets of circumstances? As
you go forward the question then becomes, how do you convince
people who are used to having things the same, and who think in
terms of 4- or 5-year increments, to think about what has to be 50
or 60 years from now? It is a problem that we have to overcome in
dealing with infrastructure because truly, tomorrow’s infrastructure
will not be the same as today’s.
What is infrastructure? Well, as many of my students would tell
you, the best place to start is Wikipedia. So I pulled this definition
for what we might want to call maritime infrastructure (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Maritime Infrastructure
I think it is important to recognize that infrastructure is a lot of
things. It is the bases from which we operate. It is the places where
people live, where people work, and the locations around that particular area that provide protection–the breakwaters, the levees,
and the other sorts of facilities we have. So it is a pretty complex
undertaking when you try and pin down what infrastructure is.
Climate and Energy Proceedings 2011
When you get into critical infrastructure, you can narrow it a bit,
but you do not really have critical infrastructure that operates in the
long term without the rest of that infrastructure.
What are the potential climate change threats to our coastal
infrastructure? Well, as you can see from Figure 4, it is not just
the coast because in most of the areas in which we operate, the
coast is the location where rivers enter the sea. So, we will have
problems with riverine flooding. We also have maritime installations on our inland waterways, and those that are very important
to our international commerce. You can take the largest port in the
United States, Southern Louisiana. How much of that is far from
the sea? So, increased riverine flooding begins to take a toll.
Figure 4. Potential Coastal Climate Change Threats
What about increased hurricanes and typhoons? They are
going to cause a problem. They are going to create surges that we
have not yet experienced, increased storm-water flooding. It turns
out that the British have been looking at their problems from water
and flooding and they have discovered that about 30% of the flood
damages do not come from riverine flooding or from coastal flooding, they come from pluvial flooding or storm-water flooding. The
problem with that is, as the intensity of rainfall increases, getting rid
of all that additional water poses an even greater challenge. And if
sea level is in fact higher, you will have that same problem of where
do you put that additional water? And if climate change results in
more frequent storms, you will have even more water to deal with.
What then do you do, what are the potential climate change
challenges that we face as we move forward? As shown in Figure 5,
Chapter 3 Adapting Infrastructure to Climate Challenges
certainly the inundation of developed areas will be a concern. That
is something we are already facing in many places, and it is going
to get worse from the three climate change effects that I noted earlier. If you look at downtown Washington, D.C., you will recognize
we have all of those problems there. They are not unique to just
coastal areas. Any area that is near waters that can be influenced
by tidal variations will also be affected by the problems with storm
surges and sea-level rise.
Figure 5. Impacts of Climate Change on Infrastructure
The next challenge that we will have to face is erosion. Erosion
can cause you to lose many of your important facilities. It can
degrade your protection systems; breakwaters can come apart, and
levies can be undermined. Erosion can also degrade transportation
facilities. If you cannot move cargo out of a port, then you have a
problem. If you cannot bring supplies in because of the connectivity to the mainland or other areas around, you have a significant
problem. Yet another consideration that is not often thought of as a
climate change effect is the potential impact on our wetlands and
on our groundwater. For many years, as sea level has been rising,
the West Coast has been experiencing an increasing intrusion of
salinity into groundwater supplies in that very arid region. While
there are steps that one can take, all of those require resources.
As you may have read, we are also rapidly losing wetlands.
The state of Louisiana, for example, is losing about 25–40 square
miles of coastal wetlands each year. These areas are important
because they provide barrier protection to the people who live in
Climate and Energy Proceedings 2011
that region. They also protect the 35% of our nation’s oil and gas
industry that is located along the Gulf Coast. You can go on and
on. The point is that we need to be conscious of all of the components of the overall infrastructure.
Well, what can we do about it? I will not go through a detailed
discussion of this, but I will point out some comments that the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) made
about sea-level rise. What can you do? You can retreat, you can
move away. That is not very feasible for most of the facilities for the
services, whether it be Army, Navy, or Air Force.
You can accommodate by doing things such as elevating
homes, elevating structures, and raising the facilities you already
have and adapt in much the same way. The adaptation is different from the accommodation in the sense that you can adapt over
time—you can build a program that will let you make changes
as sea level rises. This approach, however, is not always the most
efficient from a resource standpoint.
The third way you can deal with it is to try to protect your
installations by building more levees and sea walls. As we learned
in Louisiana, that is only a risk-reduction tool, not a protection tool.
It does not guarantee you anything. All of these things are going
to cost you money, and that is the challenge. Engineers have the
ability to deal with these particular challenges, but they require
resources and large amounts of resources.
So what are we dealing with? We are dealing with the identification of risk and how we are going to deal with that risk. What are
we going to do to make risk go down as we move forward? What
sorts of things can we implement? How much risk is too much for
the Navy or for the Army or for the Air Force? How are we going to
deal with that at Joint Base Langley-Eustis? How much protection
should you provide? I think that is the challenge.
Figure 6 shows the typical description of risk. Unacceptable
risk is shown as dark blue. We all know what that is—we are not
going to fly in an airplane with no engines or one that is about to
fall apart. Acceptable risk appears at the bottom. Those of us who
drove here today determined that the risk associated with doing so
Chapter 3 Adapting Infrastructure to Climate Challenges
was acceptable risk or else we would have chosen to stay home.
So, we know what that level of risk means. The open question is:
What do we do with that area in the middle? Who decides where
we are in that? That level of risk applies to everything we are doing
in the risk management for installations. We are going to have to
make some tough decisions. Then, we will need to put the money
where the risk is the greatest.
Figure 6. What Do Risk Values Mean? [2]
There is another challenge that we need to address as we move
forward. We need to know where we currently stand. As a member
of the American Society of Civil Engineers, I can report that we
have a problem with our infrastructure. The report card that we
received in 2009 gave our nation a D grade for its infrastructure.
We are not doing well in maintaining what we have. Those of
us who have been in the service have experienced this over our
lifetime. It always gets to the crunch point where money has to
be diverted to operations. Where does that money come from? It
inevitably comes from maintenance. As a result, we have ended
up with infrastructure that is not as good as we would like it to be.
The second thing we need to do is identify what risks we actually have. It is amazing as you look at the coastal United States
and the related riverine flood environment, we do not really know
what our exposure is. In some cases, we do not want to know
because we are afraid that the cost of reducing that exposure will
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be too high. So what do we do about that? We need to find out
what our exposure is and then assess the risk. Once we have done
that, we can develop an action plan that will deal with the issues
over the long haul.
Why am I showing you that the population is increasing
(Figures 7 and 8)?
Figure 7. Population Growth
Figure 8. The Boom to Come [3]
Chapter 3 Adapting Infrastructure to Climate Challenges
We know that we are going to face an increase in population
in this country over the next 15–30 years. The Census Bureau says
that the U.S. population could increase by as much as 150 million.
That is a lot of people. They have to go somewhere. Where they
seem most likely to go are the places that they have been going
recently: our coastal areas.
Given this increase in population, we know that we are going
to have an increase in construction. We also know that roughly
40% of our nation’s existing infrastructure needs to be replaced
because it is simply too old. So, between now and 2050, we are
going to have a massive construction program going on. At the
same time, we are going to have problems from the rising sea level.
How do we deal with this nexus of problems?
Well, I think the challenge comes because what happens on
our military bases actually carries over to what happens in the
communities nearby. Similarly, what happens in those communities affects what happens on our bases. We are not independent
anymore. As much as we would like to stand on our own, there
is a connectivity there that is very important. We share utilities in
many cases. We share the same transportation networks. Although
many of our military installations have their own medical facilities,
in emergencies, they may have to rely on the resources available in
the civilian community.
Transportation includes the relevant infrastructure internal to
the immediate region as well as facilities that support transportation that extends beyond the region such as overseas shipping.
This latter component includes shipyards and related facilities that
provide the base for what we are doing. Thus, the city of Norfolk is
critically important to the overall Hampton Roads military area. If
we are dealing with these places, we have to take them with us as
we move forward. To ignore sea-level rise and the climate change
impacts on these communities is at our own peril because what
happens to them is going to happen to us. We have to figure out a
way—using our joint land use studies and some of the other things
done by the DoD—to address climate change on a win–win basis
with our local communities.
Climate and Energy Proceedings 2011
What is my bottom line as we go forward? Climate change is
going to happen. I do not think we can avoid that. As a professor
at the University of Maryland, I frequently have students who still
do not believe in climate change; they say, “No, I have learned at
home that there is no such thing as climate change.” But gradually,
as they see and learn more about what is happening around them,
and as the number of natural disasters grows every year, they come
to believe that climate change is occurring and that it is going to
have a significant impact on our maritime infrastructure.
It is possible to deal with climate change impacts on infrastructure, so we need to start thinking about what we are going to do
and develop the appropriate plans, whether they are adaptation,
protection, or retreat. Tough decisions are going to have to be made
regarding priorities, acceptable risk, and resource levels/funding.
Installation protection is not as sexy as some of the other things
that we have heard about today, but it is just as critical for the wellbeing of our force, especially the Army and the Air Force, who are
not as used to water as the Navy and the Coast Guard are. Clearly,
something needs to be done, and we have to recognize that in
addition to the things we do for ourselves, somehow we have to
influence the things that are done for others as we move forward.
I think we have to always remember that nature bats last and
nature does not make any promises. It cannot say that we are going
to be here or there in 15, 20, or 40 years. We just know something
is happening, and we had better be ready for it.
1. Malcolm Pirnie, Inc. and Denver Water (Waage), Decision Support
Planning Methods: Incorporating Climate Change Uncertainties
into Water Planning, 2010,
2. E. Mark Lee, How Does Climate Change Affect the Assessment of
Landslide Risk?, 2006.
3. Arthur Nelson, “America Circa 2030: The Boom To Come,”
Architect, 2006,