I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Told You So!

Flooded Subway via MTA
The NYC transportation system is all but come to a halt. No one knows the condition of the electrical infrastructure.  As the NYT explains today the City had been warned about this possibility/probability for years.
For nearly a decade, scientists have told city and state officials that New York faces certain peril: rising sea levels, more frequent flooding and extreme weather patterns. The alarm bells grew louder after Tropical Storm Irene last year, when the city shut down its subway system and water rushed into the Rockaways and Lower Manhattan.
On Tuesday, as New Yorkers woke up to submerged neighborhoods and water-soaked electrical equipment, officials took their first tentative steps toward considering major infrastructure changes that could protect the city’s fragile shores and eight million residents from repeated disastrous damage.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the state should consider a levee system or storm surge barriers and face up to the inadequacy of the existing protections.
“The construction of this city did not anticipate these kinds of situations. We are only a few feet above sea level,” Mr. Cuomo said during a radio interview. “As soon as you breach the sides of Manhattan, you now have a whole infrastructure under the city that fills — the subway system, the foundations for buildings,” and the World Trade Center site.
A few years ago the Weather Channel had a special on this very possibility.  Now as the sea level rises and the storms become more intense that possibility became a probability.  So what should be done?  Rebuilding followed by billions in levees and floodgates to protect from a future event?     Or should certain areas simply be abandoned?  Back in 2005 I suggested that New Orleans should be given back to the sea.  A Katrina scenario had also been predicted.
After rising roughly an inch per decade in the last century, coastal waters in New York are expected to climb as fast as six inches per decade, or two feet by midcentury, according to a city-appointed scientific panel. That much more water means the city’s flood risk zones could expand in size.
"Look, the city is extremely vulnerable to damaging storm surges just for its geography, and climate change is increasing that risk," said Ben Strauss, director of the sea level rise program at the research group Climate Central in Princeton, N.J. “Three of the top 10 highest floods at the Battery since 1900 happened in the last two and a half years. If that’s not a wake-up call to take this seriously, I don’t know what is."
So when is it going to become impossible to mitigate the threat?


  1. When? Right now, I suspect.

    Maybe if the temperature goes up 15 degrees F for 50 years straight, Republicans will decide global warming is occuring. I don't expect anything of smaller magnitude will do the trick. So that means the political consensus necessary to take state or federal action to protect cities from rising sea levels, etc. is simply not there, and isn't going to be there until the next century -- if then.

    It strikes we just have to admit most coastal US cities are going to shrink in size and importance, and shift as much as we can to higher ground inland over the course of time. We might start by drastically increasing property taxes in places like Manhatten and Santa Monica and dropping them in the Catskills and Pasadena.

  2. I’ve wondered about New Orleans sometimes as well, but that was before I got an idea of the costs of moving a city of that size might be. To give you an idea, there are a few towns and villages up on the Arctic coast that are going to have to be moved or otherwise abandoned in the near future thanks to the melting permafrost and loss of shore ice that has resulted in the coastline receding at a dramatic rate. These are places with 400-500 people with moving them projected to cost in the neighbourhood of $200 million. It’s no just buildings, but roads, power lines and stations, water and sewage systems and so forth. All of that infrastructure doesn’t move and is damned expensive to build all over from scratch.

    For New York, I’ve seen them saying that building the kind of flood control systems they’d need to withstand such storms as are expected in the next half-century or so would cost $15 billion. Compared to the cost of moving the whole city, that’s pocket change. The same is likely true for keeping New Orleans in place and most other major coastal cities.

    The sad truth is that those who can will (or at least should) spend all that money protecting cities from the effects of sea level rise and more extreme weather, while those who can’t (or won’t) will watch their cities be destroyed, with those who have the means moving inland and the rest either dying or becoming refugees.

  3. I remember a Discovery channel show about what would happen if a hurricane hit New Orleans. It was ominously accurate but when I watched it, I dismissed it as pure hype. Lesson learned.


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