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From our Expert Voices conversation on Puerto Rico's recovery from Hurricane Maria.

The road forward should be thought of in two phases: recovering now, and rebuilding for the future.

The island and the emergency workers are still in the early recovery phase, clearing debris and repairing roads for accessibility and distribution of essential supplies, as well as restoring power and water infrastructures. Right now the challenge is to accomplish these activities as quickly as possible. Little consideration should be given to cost—what matters now is avoiding preventable deaths and extreme hardship.

Once the later recovery phase starts, however, a paramount challenge is the long-term survivability of the rebuilt infrastructure. Recovery budgets should be deployed wisely, keeping in mind that Puerto Rico is bound to experience more extreme weather events in the future. A power grid that is underground will be much more resilient to high winds. Power and water infrastructures that are decentralized and decoupled are less likely to completely fail due to disruptions and critical components can be recovered faster to provide partial relief.

The bottom line: More weather events on the scale of Hurricane Maria are inevitable, so now is the time to put into place a resilient infrastructure to mitigate the human toll and economic impact of future storms.

Other voices in the conversation:

Go deeper

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.

The Supreme Court's abortion showdown arrives

Protesters gather at the Supreme Court during arguments about the Texas abortion law Nov. 1. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Supreme Court will debate today whether to overturn Roe v. Wade, and neither side is trying to lower the stakes — or to make today’s case anything less than a referendum on Roe’s very survival.

The big picture: Conventional wisdom, on both the left and right, says the court is likely to chip away at abortion rights without overturning its precedents outright. But neither side has spent much time trying to help the justices thread that needle.