Huffington Post (yes, HuffPo) published an excellent article on how U.S. cities are not even closely prepared for hurricanes, sea-level rise, or strong storms.
They point out that these vulnerabilities are our own doing. NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg admits to assisting businesses and people build in harms way.
Bloomberg has in general been skeptical about actually limiting development on the water. “People like to live in low-lying areas, on the beach; it’s attractive,” he told a reporter after Sandy. “People pay more, generally, to be closer to the water, even though you could argue they should pay less because it’s more dangerous. But people are willing to run the risk.”
The city’s progress on adapting to storm surge risk has so far consisted mainly of smaller steps, like working with private and public players to harden the electrical grid and seal off the subway system against the threat of flooding.
In other words, city officials are too scared, too weak, or just too ignorant to warn citizens that their lives, investments, or families are at high risk from obliteration. This is not an exaggeration. Even local officials shrug their shoulders when it comes to developing along risky ocean fronts:
Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, argued that development along the Jersey Shore has been ongoing for decades, even before there was a coastal permitting program. He said it is not the state’s role to dictate how redevelopment should occur.
“People who live along the shore always live with a risk, and they know that. That’s understood,” he said. “We at the state are not going to tell these towns you can or cannot rebuild, but we will work with them to make sure that whatever comes back will be done in as smart or protective a fashion as possible.”
What’s worse is that these cities and towns claim they are “vital” pieces of the U.S. economy. Yet, they’re not willing (or capable) to pay for clean up and rebuilding after a storm hits - that’s forced upon the American tax payer…
Candidates for mayor should promise to extend Bloomberg’s environmental record.
The candidate who succeeds him will have a lot of solid plans and ambitious goals to work with. The challenge will be to fulfill and expand them, despite the day-to-day emergencies and distractions that tend to blur and constrict worthy visions over the long term.
On this front, Christine Quinn looks good. Her tenure as City Council speaker entitles her to share credit for Bloomberg-era policies like the law requiring the city to reduce carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030 and the one requiring large buildings, vast emitters of greenhouse gas, to audit their energy use to increase efficiency. Expanding river ferry service, maintaining parks, curbing the use of sooty fuel oil — on these and other issues, she has a record to run on.
Wow. In one month! I use the bike share in DC. Was skeptical at first, because daily bike riding in Massachusetts was pretty dangerous. Drivers would swear, swerve, and even throw soda cups at you. Not in DC. The bike lanes certainly help! But drivers and cyclists just co-exist. Fingers crossed for NYC!
In his 1992 book “Earth in the Balance,” Gore compared talk of adapting to climate change to laziness that would distract from necessary efforts.
But in his 2013 book “The Future,” Gore writes bluntly: “I was wrong.” He talks about how coping with rising seas and temperatures is just as important as trying to prevent global warming by cutting emissions.
Like Gore, governmental officials across the globe aren’t saying everyone should just give up on efforts to reduce pollution. They’re saying that as they work on curbing carbon, they also have to deal with a reality that’s already here.
More than 800,000 New York City residents will live in flood zones by the 2050s, according to warnings issued by the Bloomberg administration, which hopes to encourage better preparation for climate change.
Other states are hiding this data from the public (glaring at you, North Carolina).
Disasters make for sexy headlines, but the real stories are in the clean up. Also, often times politicians use disasters to push through tough land-use regulations (such as no-rebuild zones or requiring homes on stilts) after a big storm. These regulations would get little-to-no support without a big storm or disaster.
After a cleanup effort that cost tens of millions of dollars, visitors from the Rockaways to the Hamptons will be able to enjoy miles of seashores that have been groomed and cleaned up by volunteers and work crews. In still others, sunbathers may have to squeeze their towels a little closer on beaches shrunken in some places by half its normal size by the effects of erosion.
"People are going to rewrite the formula for the beach," says Andrew Field, co-owner of the popular Rockaway Taco restaurant near Queens’ Rockaway Beach, a 7-mile stretch of sand off the Atlantic Ocean that was perhaps the city’s hardest-hit beachfront.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will work all summer to restore 3.6 million cubic yards of sand in a stretch of beach where, at high tide, what last summer was prime real estate for sunbathing is now part of the ocean. […] after spending more than $270 million in repair costs, all 14 miles of New York City’s beaches will be open for the Memorial Day weekend, including Coney Island, Brighton and Manhattan Beaches in Brooklyn; Orchard Beach in the Bronx; Midland, Wolfe’s Pond, Cedar Grove and South Beaches in Staten Island; and, of course, Rockaway Beach in Queens.