TODAY'S NEWS: We're Screwed!Mon, 09/21/2009 - 16:13
According to a high tech study commissioned by a concerned Mayor Bloomberg and generously funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, climate change caused by human-created greenhouse gases is threatening the health, livelihood and security of New Yorkers-especially those who take the subway to work.
The New York City Panel on Climate Change, led by an elite team of NASA scientists and climate experts from Columbia, CUNY and Rutgers, has concluded that unless carbon emissions are drastically reduced all over the world, New York faces dangerous increases in temperature (up to 7.5 degrees), extreme weather (hurricanes and intense storms) and sea level rise (as much as 4.5 feet).
According to the panel's report, if all nations don't drastically cut their carbon emissions, then Gotham will suffer in the following ways:
• Deadly heat waves will become more frequent, more intense and longer. Because cities are a lot hotter than their surrounding areas, we'll see more of the sorts of heat events that killed 600 people in 5 days in Chicago in 1995, or 15,000 people in France in 2003.
• Coastal flooding will increase. The subways, which already need constant pumping to stay dry, will be much more vulnerable to flooding due to storm surges. Real estate in low-lying areas of Manhattan-particularly downtown locations-will also be endangered (See "Congress to NY: Swim for It").
• With coastal flooding, our water supply will be in trouble. The City is already attempting to prepare for flooding by raising electrical equipment at the Rockaway Wastewater Treatment Plant to higher elevations.
• Along with coastal flooding, droughts will also increase. This will cause water quality to deteriorate, with higher bacteria counts and more saltwater and toxic runoff polluting our reservoirs.
• The higher temperatures will place strains on our city's infrastructure and buildings, which were not built for that kind of heat. Roads and rails will buckle and expand with the extreme heat variation and degrade more quickly.
• The strain on our power grid will be drastically increased during the summer months. Electrical machinery will need to be cooled more, and will breakdown from increased strain.
So what can we do about it? Plenty. And it's not even that hard.
On the City level, NASA scientists have the answers, and they're simple: plant lots more trees (to cool the air through "evapotranspiration" and shade), and paint the roofs white to reflect the sun's heating rays (See "New York's all white with me").
On the personal level, we need to drive less, and use bikes and public transport instead. We need to buy local food at farmers' markets instead of stuff flown halfway across the world, and we need to make sure local farmers have all the incentives they need to sell food to us cheaply. And of course we need to produce our own energy by installing solar panels on top of our buildings, so that we stop using coal-produced electricity (we'll save money besides).
But MOST IMPORTANTLY, we need to put pressure on government-local, state and federal-to convert our entire energy systems to sustainable sources like solar and wind.
Don't let Obama, Congress or the world leaders gathering at the UN this week fiddle while Gotham Burns. We need some real leadership from these pols. They need to make the tough decisions and policy changes that will turn the heat down on New York and the world before it's too late.