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Mayor Bloomberg's Announcement Revives Climate Change Discussion

by Thomas H. Manning, published

As New York and states in the Northeast continue to recover from the effects of hurricane Sandy which hit 8 months ago, mayor Michael Bloomberg released a plan Tuesday, July 11th to combat the effects of global warming and the future impact it will have on New York city.

The mayor’s plan which outlines  an effort to revitalize New York City and the tri-state region which were hit hard by the hurricane which hit in late October of 2012 and is still seeing many areas recover. The plan includes many prevention methods including building 15 to 20 foot levees along flood prone areas of the region including Staten Island which was devastated by flooding during the hurricane.

The mayor who has only 220 days left in his term of office, has  included in the plan a proposal for a better dune system along Staten Island and the Rockaway beaches to help prevent the impact of significant flooding which took place along with the suggestion to give $1.2 billion in grants to people who better prepare their buildings and homes from flooding. Many cities across the United States have already implemented measures to prevent the effects of global warming on their cities and they include, Norfolk Virginia, Miami Florida, New Orleans Louisiana, and Los Angeles California. The mayor, said during the press conference, that “the plan is incredibly ambitious” and that it will more than likely run throughout the end of his term of office.

The issue of Climate change and the belief of whether or not that global warming exists breaks down into party lines and as The Brookings Institute points out in a study recently released, Democrats are more likely to believe in global warming by 64% over republicans' 41% and independents 56%. When broken down even further, it can also be seen that 43% of Americans believe that the federal government has a great deal of responsibility in trying to solve the problem while 35% say states have great responsibility and 42% of voters say local government has the great deal of responsibility when it comes to solving the climate change issue.

New York City:  In 2008, Mayor Michael Bloomberg convened the New York City panel on Climate Change. This panel, reports to the Mayor directly with study findings and suggestions for further plans to protect the city and tri state area. The plan the mayor has proposed includes, a removable flood wall in lower Manhattan, re-building the dune system along the Staten Island coast, and the Rockaways which were hit hard by flooding. The mayor’s plan which coincides with a report done by the National resource defense council (NRDC), helps reduce the risks in the primary effects of global warming in New York city, which include:

  1. Rising Sea levels
  2. Increased flooding
  3. More frequent and intense storm events
  4. Increased annual precipitation
  5. Increased saltwater intrusion
  6. Increased erosion

Norfolk, Virginia: As a region of the country that has been vulnerable to flooding in the past, the Norfolk Virginia coastline has already seen the impact of global warming on its city. The city has seen a 14.5 increase in sea level over the past 80 years which has already seen flooding increase over recent years. The risks  that the city of Norfolk faces not only includes the effects of increase of Sea level, also include Increased annual precipitation, more frequent and intense storm events and also a Rise in Sea Level along it’s coastline. In  response to the growing threat to the city, Norfolk has proposed a plan that would include hiring the Dutch coastal engineering firm Furgo, to conduct an assessment of the city’s flooding problem and to recommend plans to update the flood prone regions of the city.

Miami, Florida: The city of Miami, which is a popular tourist destination and a city which has seen numerous hurricane events pass through its city over the last decade or so, has 8 challenges that face it’s city when it comes to climate change and their city.

  1. Decreased annual precipitation
  2. Water Supply challenges
  3. More frequent and intense storm events
  4. Increased flooding
  5. Sea level rise along it’s coast
  6. Increased erosion
  7. Salt Water intrusion
  8. Aquatic/ More species impact

The city of Miami has instituted a plan to combat the challenge of climate change known as “MiPlan”, which lays out a plan to combat the future effects of climate change. The plan’s main goal is to incorporate climate change into its long term planning of future development of the city which would prepare the construction to combat the effects of more frequent and intense storms.

New Orleans, Louisiana: A city which may have already seen the impact of Global Warming, with the landfall of Hurricane Katrina in 2004 and the devastation that followed following the collapse of levees after the landfall of hurricane Katrina which caused massive flooding. As a city that has already seen the effects of stronger storms, New Orleans, is re-building its city and preparing it for future climate change events. Part of this plan to re-build New Orleans, includes an effort to provide funding to elevate existing residential structures and build new elevated structures on the same site. The plan also calls for a measure that would require new construction projects that are going to be built in New Orleans to undergo new zoning measures that would “control the placement, construction and development in addition to the expansion and renovation of existing structures”.

All of  these prevention methods are in accordance with the risk that New Orleans faces which include,

  1. Rising sea levels
  2. Increased flooding
  3. More frequent and intense storm events
  4. Increased impacts to fisheries

Los Angeles, California:  As a major city along the Western Coast of the United States, Los Angeles has seen an increase in climate change with the city ranking number 1 in smog levels and ozone related pollution. Along with air related issues, Los Angeles can have water related issues if climate change hits Los Angeles in the next couple of decades. Among these risks of water related issues, include:

  1. Rising sea level
  2. Increased flooding
  3. Water supply challenges due to snow melt
  4. Increased saltwater intrusion
  5. Decreased annual precipitation
  6. Water supply challenges due to increased droughts
  7. Increased erosion
  8. More frequent and intense storm events

The city has developed the Los Angeles regional collaborative for climate action and sustainability (LARC) to help fix what it described as shortcomings in an effort to fix climate change effects on Los Angeles. The city has also implemented a study that is said to “better evaluate water adaptation strategies for an important water source that is dependent upon snow pack and snow melt.” Along with that study, Los Angeles has also developed Climate LA and Green LA both programs to study the climate of Los Angeles and to develop green programs for Los Angeles.

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