Last week a blockbuster and prescient article in New York Magazine was about the city’s rising sea levels entitled “When Will New York City Sink?” Author Andrew Rice penned an extraordinary lengthy (7 pages) and comprehensive piece that included the voices of many scientists, climatologists, policy makers, builders and architects. They all had the same message: over the next 50 – 100 years as the sea levels around New York City will rise and life as we know it will change drastically. Rice constantly reinforced that message, with hard to swallow images and ideas. For instance, those born in this decade may see the waters surrounding the city rise by six feet that will become an “unstoppable force” or folks will be carrying galoshes every day to work to fend off rising waters in on sidewalks, water that will be climbing around each of the boroughs. As the sea levels climb floods will be more common and “cataclysmic” because the higher waters will surge with more strength.
The article explains that as the earth is getting warmer and glaciers are drastically melting, it has become clear that this is a man-made reality. Even the Paris Agreement, signed less than a year ago to cut carbon emissions might not be enough to slow global warming, given the vast amounts of carbon we’ve already put into the atmosphere.
The map in the article was provided by the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) and shows waters encroaching on Hudson River Park and West Street, covering the local airports, La Guardian and JFK, Williamsburg waterfront, Roosevelt Island and Brooklyn Bridge.
Experts assert that a foolhardy and extremely short sighted government is forging ahead to build valuable waterfront properties to reap the economic benefits without considering the dire consequences of real estate at water’s edges. The effort shown via climate change policies are more focused on “mitigation,” or “changing energy-consumption patterns in the present day.” What that means, according to Rice, is long-term adaptation gets less attention. And why is that? Any major step or outward act to prepare for the rising seas sends a doomsday message to the constituents – not likely to be served up by any local politician.
Rice checked out the Princeton’s Climate Central that has created programs that map out sea-level projections for the future. From his observations he forecast such alarming images as rooftops of southern Brooklyn looking like boats bobbing in a marina and La Guardia and JFK airports totally under water. At a 3 feet sea level rise the Hudson River Park and West Street were already under water, another foot of water submerged Canal Street as well as the Williamsburg waterfront, Roosevelt Island, and Brooklyn Bridge Park.
And the economic fallout of losing industry escaping the rising waters? Rice cites research that says “the industry’s anticipated annual losses in New York will more than double by 2050, to $4.4 billion…” The groundwork is already being laid for financial loss because the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) can’t seem to buy flood insurance for the subway system.
While scenarios are quite daunting, a 3-minute video drives home many points.
Video: A Look at New York’s Not-So-Distant Future http://on.aol.com/video/nyc-s-flooded-future-57cecacb1c689946759f8be8?context=PC:news:PL7379:1473677479