, Today, October 18, 2017
Density of population and infrastructure in the projected 2050 floodplain. Image: RPA.
Hurricane season is impossible to ignore, and as the October 29th anniversary date of Superstorm Sandy approaches, the Regional Plan Association (RPA) has released a report titled “Coastal Adaptation: A Framework for Governance and Funding to Address Climate Change” that warns of the imminent threat of rising sea levels and outlines a strategy to protect the many vulnerable stretches of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. According to the report, 59 percent of the region’s energy capacity, four major airports, 21 percent of public housing units, and 12 percent of hospital beds will be in areas at risk of flooding over the next 30 years. RPA research found that even in light of these projections, the region’s climate change planning tends to be reactive and local rather than pro-active and regional–and it’s not nearly enough.
Find out more about who’s at risk and what can be done
Photo via pixabay
Following President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement in June, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order that committed New York City to honor the standards of the accord, which is an international negotiation aimed to mitigate climate change worldwide. On Tuesday, de Blasio released an action plan that details ways to lower the city’s carbon footprint, reduce 10 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2030 and introduce a citywide single-stream recycling program by 2020. New York City is the first metropolitan area to release a Paris Agreement-compatible action plan, according to the report.
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The former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, announced a new philanthropic project on Monday aimed at investing and empowering the country’s cities. The $200 million program, called the American Cities Initiative, will help mayors push for policies that deal with climate change, gun violence, public health and immigration. As the New York Times reported, a major component of Bloomberg’s project will be a “Mayors Challenge,” which will award six-and seven-figure grants to mayors who draft interesting policy proposals.
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Flooding during Hurricane Sandy left many residents of Red Hook without basic services for weeks. While many had hoped the city’s $100 million initiative would help protect the Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood from a 100-year flood event, a new feasibility study shows the plan would actually only protect it from a 10-year flood event. As the Wall Street Journal reported, the city plans on scaling back the flood-protection system in Red Hook because of its high costs, and the study revealed a larger project could cost about $300 to $500 million more.
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After a few days of extreme heat, Mayor de Blasio launched a $106 million initiative on Wednesday to protect New Yorkers from the risks of dangerously high temperatures this summer. The Cool Neighborhoods program aims to lessen the effects of the “urban heat island effect,” a problem that occurs in New York City due to its abundance of heat-holding asphalt and concrete and lack of greenery. According to Gothamist, to reduce heat-related health risks and deaths, the city plans on planting more trees on streets and in parks, supporting forest restoration efforts and painting roofs of homes in vulnerable areas with reflective white paints.
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This week marked the beginning of hurricane season and experts predict storms will be worse than usual, especially following President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord on Thursday. To better inform New Yorkers about the risks of rising sea level and storm surges, the Waterfront Alliance, a nonprofit that works to protect waterfronts, released a Harbor Scorecard, as reported by the Brooklyn Eagle. The interactive scorecard lets users view each neighborhood by its waterfront safety and coastal resiliency. The group found that more than 400,000 New Yorkers face a 50 percent risk of a major flood by 2060.
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Hurricane Sandy damage in Breezy Point, Queens
With the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy approaching, many New Yorkers are still reeling from its devastation; in fact, the city recently allocated another $500 million in taxpayer money for repairs due to storm damage. And though this seems grim, a new study from a group of researchers at Princeton and Rutgers universities and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is even more troubling. Based on a storm-related computer simulation of flooding, “Hurricane Sandy’s Flood Frequency Increasing From Year 1800 to 2100” predicts that in a worse-case scenario, by the year 2100, such powerful storms will occur every 20 years, an increase of 17 times the current state, reports Phys.org.
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With increasing concerns about rising sea levels and the large quantity of greenhouse gas emitted into the atmosphere, Radley Horton‘s work is more important than ever. As a climate scientist at Columbia University, he’s working on the applied end of climate change by examining data to make projections about the possibility of extreme weather events. Based on the data and ensuing models, he then considers the impacts these potential events and the overall changing climate might have in a variety of contexts that range from airports to the migration of pests. Radley is on the forefront of understanding what might happen and how cities, countries, and other entities can prepare even in the face of uncertainty.
6sqft recently spoke with Radley about his work, areas of climate concern in New York, and what we all can do to combat a changing planet.
Read the full interview here