How bad is the National Research Council's report about climate change's potential impact on America's transportation system? NPR says it has warnings of "Biblical proportions." 60,000 miles of highways, major airports, railroads, low-lying tunnels and ports are at risk of damage from changes in the climate. Climate change will cause roads to buckle, bridge joints to be stressed, railroad tracks to be deformed and will keep planes grounded because of the heat. In the Arctic, permafrost, the solid ground that builders depend on, may even melt away.
Gerry Schwartz, head of the panel that issued the report, says "there's certainly the potential for severe damage to highways, pipelines [and] airports in the Arctic." Virginia Burkett, who co-authored the report, says "if sea level rises 4 feet, 24 percent of the interstate highways would be inundated." To avoid all of this, changes to the transportation system will need to be made and it "could cost hundreds of billions of dollars." Not doing anything the report warns, could cost us a lot more.