Rising Sea Level Threatens New York City

Big apple New York City stands tall while the dangers of global warming threaten to wash away the fashion capital of the world. Concerns for New York City continue to grow as the city fears the rapidly rising sea levels. Since the fashion industry is worth over $30 billion in the UK, I would imagine that it would be significantly high as well in the US. Since the rising sea level is a threat to New York (with the thought that New York is a major fashion capital), it can be viewed as a threat to the US economy threatening jobs, America’s GDP as well as GNP.

Currently, much of the island lies at less than 16ft above the sea level with parts of lower Manhattan at approximately 5ft. According to Art DeGaetano, a climate scientist at Cornell University and lead author of the ClimAID study, by the mid-2020s, sea levels around Manhattan could rise by 10 inches. Researchers Jianjun Yin, Michael Schlesinger and Ronald Stouffer say that a rise of 8.3 inches could flood lower Manhattan assuming a medium greenhouse gas emission scenario and the continual rapid melting of the polar ice sheets. This becomes a huge threat to the city especially due to the financial district being located in lower Manhattan. Not to mention, the fact that New York is the most populated city in the US with 8,175,833 as the population reaching a record high, and over a 100,000 people living south of Houston (lower Manhattan), a rise of 8.3 inches is a major concern to the city of New York.

Already in the past, the city has seen a fraction of its devastating future where they have been forced to shut down public transportation due to severe rain storms and floods. In 1992, the December Nor’easter caused massive flooding leaving the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel closed and the PATH train shut down. Again in 2007, most of the Manhattan subway lines stopped running due to enormous amounts of rain where afterwards the MTA had to clear 16,000 pounds of debris from its tracks along with the weeks spent repairing electrical equipment.

So what does the future of New York look like?

Malcolm Bowman, an oceanography professor from Stony Brook University in Long Island, predicts that New York may have routinely reoccurring flood days like they do for snow days in the winter. Or, Klaus Jacob, Columbia University research scientist who specializes in disaster risk management, pictures that in 200 years, New York will turn into Venice in a sense that “You may have to build bridges or get Venice gondolas or your little speed boats ferrying yourself up to those buildings,” Jacob said.

What is the city going to do in preparation for future disasters?

David Bragdon, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning & Sustainability, is in charge of preparing for the dangers of future climate change. At Rockaways and building the Willets Point Development in Queens, the city has started taking action by raising pumps at wastewater treatment plant. He would also like to get started on updating the city’s flood evacuation plans. According to my sociology professor, based on his research findings, he believes that the American death toll would have been dropped to 128 people rather than 2300 from Hurricane Katrina if America’s evacuation precautions were more like the Cubans. Maybe there is something to be learned there.

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One Response to Rising Sea Level Threatens New York City

  1. avatar Alicia says:

    Jenn,
    You have a great start here. I would encourage you to probe more the questions of why we care. What is the scale of human impact. You could definitely elaborate your first paragraph. You mention fashion but what other impacts would this have.
    Where did your images come from. I would like to get a copy of the second one. Also, what is your prediction based on the evidence presented and what should New York be doing?

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