As the temperature has increased, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has described a plethora of problems associated with this change. According to the EPA, certain areas have already experienced changes in rainfall, which has meant more severe and frequent floods, droughts and heat waves. The result is the potential for serious health risks.
The mechanism driving these changes is in part due to the earth’s rising sea levels and in a report from the New York City Panel on Climate Change, a group of climate scientists warned that the City might see a 6-foot increase in its sea level by 2100. One should note that this estimate was made using data that assumes the “worst-case scenario” has occurred; however, previous “worst-case scenario” estimates have predicted NYC’s sea level would rise by only 2 to 4 feet.
But according to Weather.com, even a 2-foot rise in sea levels would result in the flooding of 212 miles of roads, 77 miles of rail, 3,647 acres of airport facilities and 539 acres of runway.
As the sea level and temperatures rise, the researchers of the report also predict that the frequency of heat waves would triple by 2080, as well as the frequency of “extreme precipitation.” In acute danger would be coastal communities, such as areas of Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens. The magazine Scientific American also reported that the city has already “dumped 26,00 linear feet of sand along Staten Island’s shorelines.” However, this number would pale in comparison to our future needs were this prediction to come true.
In terms of action steps, the authors of the report hope their research will inspire officials to plan for climate change by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases and increase the resilience of NYC’s shores to the rising sea and extreme weather. Already, Scientific American reports that New York has pledged to try and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent in 2050, while also strengthening its infrastructure.
Beyond preparing the City, the authors of the report also hope to inspire the Federal Emergency Management Agency to change their current preliminary flood insurance rate maps. Based on the author’s predictions, this area is likely to double and home and property owners should be protected from flood damage. As senior scientist Kim Knowlton of the Natural Resources Defense Council and co-author of the report said in a statement, “[The maps we’ve created] are better maps…They include more of the available science on climate change.” Knowlton is also confident that Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, will carefully consider the content and recommendations outlined in the report.
“New York City is a world leader on [climate change]…We’ll be working together to both help and encourage this administration into action,” which is essential since there is little time to begin acting to prevent the worst case scenarios from happening.
(Photo courtesy of David Shankbone)