New York City is one of the most resourceful cities in the United States. Since the 1970s, the effects of climate change have become more apparent. Warmer temperatures, rising sea levels and more snow and rain are a few of the effects experienced. While a number of investments in security and economy have been implemented in the recent times, it seems that the city should focus more of its efforts on environmental sustainability for the sake of business, community and the ecosystems.
In a 2021 article on NASA’s website entitled “2020 Tied for Warmest Year on Record, NASA Analysis Shows”, scientists explain that though the propensity of global warming is more evident in the Arctic, further analysis shows that over the past 30 years, there has been significant loss of mass around the Arctic which accounts for 13% each decade. This means that the area has consistently contributed to rising sea levels (NASA, 2021). According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the impacts of global warming have been felt by New Yorkers since the 1970s. On average, the statewide temperatures have risen 2.4% and there has been more precipitation in the winter than in summer. Higher sea levels will account for billions in property damage and cost the state even more to rectify (NYS DOEC, 2021). Sea levels also will erode beach fronts, flood coastlines and overall wipe out recreational spaces that residents have utilized for centuries.
While this may seem to be a far off concept for New Yorkers, we must remember that much of New York City is comprised of islands connected together by bridges. Experts predict that by 2100, sea levels are to 18-75 inches higher around New York coastlines (NYS DOEC, 2021). This is why in the past decade, rainy seasons and hurricanes have had more of a lasting impact on city dwellers. Hurricane Sandy of 2018 was as devastating as scientists predicted. Prime waterfront locations of Pelham Bay in the Bronx, Battery Park in Manhattan and the Riverbank areas are experiencing rising sea levels since the 1950s. With peripherals succumbing to more unstable waters, residents will be forced to move more inward, overwhelming the already overcrowded housing markets. Driving costs and compromising hygienic quality and lessening overall is quality of life.
The effects of climate change extend beyond rising coastlines, it affects the health and well-being of the state’s citizens. Surging temperatures can affect the more vulnerable elderly and infant populations and cause other health issues. Increased precipitation will compromise the state’s drinking water because as stated in the Nature Conservatory’s factssheet produced in 2020, “the sea-level rises, it will lead to increased saltwater intrusion when the seawater travels up freshwater systems, like the Hudson River, which serves as a backup water supply system.” A reduction in drinking water will cause more people to purchase bottled water, increasing unnecessary spending and the state’s carbon footprint and plastic consumption. Hotter summers only contribute to more air pollution in urban parts of the state and the elderly are more likely to die from heatstrokes . The Bronx has the highest asthma rates in the State and one of the highest in the nation. Though it’s argued whether or not it’s a direct causation, the correlation between those children and adults with asthma and the warmer temperature and poorer air quality alarming.
The ecology of New York City is as diverse as its communities. With species of birds, fish, mammals and insects that all rely on clean air and water, the over production of products have made it harder for animals. As temperatures rise, water supplies are expected to diminish due to evaporation, threatening the habitats of wildlife. Experts predict Lake Erie’s levels to reduce by five-feet by 2100 which will harm the wildlife but also pose severe issues for electric generation efforts. The risk of forest fires will also escalate throughout the state has temperatures rise by 10-20%. Ecologists anticipate tree species like sugar maple and paper birch to either migrate further north or dwindle. The removal of forest will affect humans directly as there will be more contact with animals and pests even an increase in disease that animals will carry.
In summary, climate change is a serious issue that will have a lasting effect on the lifestyle and wellbeing of New Yorkers for a number of reasons. As environmental experts predict more rain and higher temperatures throughout the year, the risk of losing wildlife and property are also important considerations for policymakers to take seriously.