Is New York Doing Enough to Prepare for Rising Seas and Severe Storms?

Critics contend that New York's so-called resilience strategy doesn't go far enough in protecting the city's 520-mile-long coast and low-lying areas from the threats of rising seas and ever-more-severe storm flooding, reports Mireya Navarro.
September 11, 2012, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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While New York has engaged in some of the country's most aggressive efforts to understand, and help fend off, the effects of climate change, "critics say New York is moving too slowly to address the potential for flooding that could paralyze transportation, cripple the low-lying financial district and temporarily drive hundreds of thousands of people from their homes."

Although the city is undertaking efforts to expand wetlands, install green roofs, and get property owners to move boilers to higher floors, critics such as Douglas Hill, an engineer with the Storm Surge Research Group at Stony Brook University, on Long Island, are concerned that, "They lack a sense of urgency about this."

"Instead of 'planning to be flooded,' as he put it, city, state and federal agencies should be investing in protection like sea gates that could close during a storm and block a surge from Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean into the East River and New York Harbor."

"Officials in New York caution that adapting a city of eight million people to climate change is infinitely more complicated and that the costs must be weighed against the relative risks of flooding," notes Navarro.

"'It's a million small changes that need to happen,' said Adam Freed, until August the deputy director of the city's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. 'Everything you do has to be a calculation of the risks and benefits and costs you face.'"

"And in any case, Mr. Freed said, 'you can't make a climate-proof city.'"

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Published on Monday, September 10, 2012 in The New York Times
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