Do you feel lucky? New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg apparently does not. He sent one of his Long Term Planning and Sustainability staff members to a hearing before the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee in Washington DC on April 19th to testify on New York City’s concerns about the impact of rising sea levels. The NYC witness Adam Freed, told the Committee that the mayor wanted the Federal Emergency Management Agency to develop detailed flood projection maps to help New York prepare for the impacts of sea level rise on infrastructure and real estate properties in the next century.
Another witness, Ben Strauss, chief operating officer and director of the program on sea level rise at Climate Central, told the committee that sea levels in the United States will rise between one and eight inches by 2030 and between four and 19 inches by 2050. But while Mayor Bloomberg’s staff member was sent to worry out loud in a politically correct way about rising sea levels, the Climate Central witness wanted action on a four-step federal program to reduce risk and vulnerability:
- Protect existing beaches that help prevent the impacts of storm surge,
- Build artificial defenses where appropriate;
- Halt construction in high risk areas; and
- Develop a planned retreat from areas that cannot be effectively protected.
With trillions of dollars of Federal debt looming and deficits as far as the eye can see, what do you assess is the probability that the Government will spent your money entertaining strategies like this? I know—that’s what worries me too! If we can fund bridges to nowhere imagine how much Congress might spend to keep Broadway from turning into Venice.
Then again, think of the charm New York would have if the streets of Manhattan were all turned into canals with yellow hybrid water taxis wisking you from downtown to midtown. Bike lanes could turn into kayak channels and since the subways would all be flooded we could build giant moving sidewalks to connect the building above the projected high water line powered by wave action turbines used to squirt sea water through the subway tunnels under pressure.
The torch on the Statue of Liberty can be replaced with a wind turbine and solar panels can be mounted on all rooftops oriented toward the Empire State Building which can be converted into a concentrated solar power tower with giant tanks of molten salt in the underwater floors to create a combined heat and power microgrid to power the city.
Think of it—auto emissions would be a thing of the past. We would not need RGGI or EPA regulations or the New York Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability.
Maybe this isn’t such a bad idea after all—by all mean prepare the maps. And make sure you hire the same climate scientists who cooked the books to get more research grants because Al Gore told them the climate science was incontrovertible. Let’s see where did I put that hockey stick formula again?
- ‘Surging Seas’ Report: Lower Manhattan Especially Vulnerable To Rising Sea Level (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- Climate Change Could Cripple New York’s Transportation System (thinkprogress.org)
- Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee To Hold Hearing on Sea Level Rise (switchboard.nrdc.org)
- Study: Rising Sea Level Threatens Homes of 4 Million Americans (usnews.com)
- How Sea-Level Rise Could Overwhelm Your City (fastcoexist.com)
- Study: Rising Sea Levels a Risk to Coastal States (nytimes.com)
- Study: 5 million face increased flooding risk (news.blogs.cnn.com)