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Ear to the Ground

Bloomberg’s Climate Change Plan Appears Grossly Inadequate

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Posted on Jun 12, 2013
AP/Seth Wenig

Mayor Michael Bloomberg talks about New York City’s long term plans for dealing with climate change at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Tuesday.

The New York mayor’s $20 billion proposal to protect America’s most populated city from the ravages of global warming seems to ignore the worst predictions of sea level rise reported in the respectable press.

Michael Bloomberg struck a committed tone in a speech Tuesday at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a place badly damaged last year by Hurricane Sandy. “This is urgent work, and it must begin now. Piece by piece, over many years and even decades, we can build a city that’s capable of preparing better, withstanding more and overcoming anything,” he said.

Among the considerations is a plan to place levees 20 feet high around part of Staten Island. But according to some projections of sea level rise, that height is inadequate. The greatest predicted rise reported in The New York Times late last year was 25 feet. The long term estimates are even worse. The Guardian recently reported an eventual rise of 131 feet worldwide if nothing is done to stop or reduce the amount of carbon flowing into the atmosphere.

Additionally, to date, the fastest forecasts of alterations to the climate and wild environment are the ones that have proved most reliable, so the direst warnings appear to be the ones for which the city and others should prepare.

The price tag for the renovation project is expected to grow. If the plans do not change to match the worst predictions, reporters should be asking who is benefiting from the project’s contracts and whether the city’s funds are genuinely serving the public or if contractors and their friends in government have simply devised a way to collect checks.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Associated Press via The Guardian:

The sweeping proposals are a sizeable step up in scale and urgency for a mayor who has for years emphasised the threat climate change poses to the city, which has 520 miles of coastline. The storm sent a record 4.27-metre (14ft) storm tide gushing into lower Manhattan.

With Bloomberg’s term soon coming to an end, it remains to be seen how the ideas will fare in a future mayoral administration and what kind of support financial and otherwise they might get from the federal government, not to mention from New Yorkers themselves.

Bloomberg acknowledged that some of the ideas could prove controversial, but said: “If we’re going to save lives and protect the lives of communities, we’re going to have to live with some new realities.”

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