Friday, March 16, 2007

In the News: The Real Riddle of Changing Weather: How Safe Is My Home?

Sea-level rise is certainly going to be a big issue in the next decade, especially if current warming trends continue. We are a coastal city with a large portion of our population lying between 0-10 feet above sea level. Insurers have recently caught drift of this information and are now unwilling to offer flood policies. One solution proposes to build a four giant seagates to protect property. Unfortunately, the gates would only protect those inside the seawall and would actually greatly increase the effects outside. How about this. We actually acknowledge that we are a coastal city and spend the money rebuilding marshes throughout the city to act as a buffer to flooding events. Reduce development in high risk areas. Create sand dunes where they once existed and creating rolling easements on coastal property. Put great public transportation networks in place so that when storms do come people can be moved quickly to higher ground. Improve stormwater infrastructure so that when flooding occurs it drains as effectively and sewage free as possible. Is that really too much to ask?...JB

Image: Flooding Risk Areas by NYC OEM

By Teri Karush Rogers
Published: March 11, 2007

By now it is no longer news that people are jiggling the planet’s thermostat.

One response is to go green: New Yorkers who were terrified into action by Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” are shaping up their lives and homes with a compulsion formerly reserved for the Atkins diet.

All this carbon cutting is a boon, and it certainly provides a moral high ground. But it fails to address one pesky truth: no matter how green New York City becomes, it remains hostage to huge amounts of heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions already in the pipeline and from the future environmental transgressions of others, facts made clear in the bleak conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released last month in Paris.

With no obvious savior in the wings, there is a growing urgency that global warming be understood at a local level, right down to the block, starting with: How could a rising sea level and pummeling storms affect the trillion dollars’ worth of property New Yorkers call home?
“It’s all pointing in a bad direction,” said Stuart Gaffin, an associate research scientist at the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University. “There’s nothing good to encourage you to think we’re going to avoid long-term flooding events.”

Read more:

New York City Office of Emergency Management

SUNY Stony Brook's Marine Research Center

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