Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Global Warming Threatens New York

This weekend's record-setting storm throws into stark relief the need to take action on global warming. Otherwise, we're in for worse. The New York Observer has a must-read article on the topic.

The article includes quotes from Princeton Geosciences Professor Michael Oppenheimer:
"This is exactly the type of event that we'd expect to see more of in the future - this kind of gully-washing, incredibly intense downpour."

"The storm was kind of a preview of things to come."
From Columbia University Center for Climate Systems Research Climatologist Radley Horton:
"We think climate change is going to threaten New Yorkers' health and wealth through a cocktail of higher temperatures, higher seas and possibly changes in precipitation patterns. Those are the three main variables."
More on the threat to New York from rising water levels:
As global warming heats the earth, the waters of the seas and oceans expand, elevating water levels across the planet. In New York, this means that by 2020 - just 13 years from now - rising sea levels will have raised the waters around the city by three to four inches; by 2050, the waters will have crept up a total of eight to 10 inches; by 2080, 14 to 19 inches.

Those numbers may be conservative, because they ignore the whole troubling and uncertain issue of the polar ice caps.
. . .
According to the latest models, New York neighborhoods that currently flood every 100 or so years - victims of what is known as the 100-year storm, in climatologist-speak - can expect to experience this kind of dousing as frequently as every four years by 2080, in a worst-case scenario.
And more on the threat to New York from higher temperatures:
Afterward, New York will get heat: the kind of intense, smoggy swelter that will sap energy, strain the power grid and wreak unimaginable havoc on certain types of female hair. It will also kill people.

Already, over the past century, climate change has pushed the city's average annual temperatures up nearly two degrees Fahrenheit, while a deceptively bland-sounding phenomenon known as the "urban heat-island effect" - a heat-trapping effect that turns cities like New York into giant hot-air bubbles - has boosted it another degree. Along the way, winters have become warmer and the number of 90-degree scorchers has doubled from roughly seven to 14 days a summer - a trend, scientists say, that does not bode well for the future.
But it's not all threat, there's also opportunity.

That's the message of our Jobs and Energy Forum, taking place upstate on April 28th. The Jobs and Energy Forum will bring local and county elected officials together with policy experts to talk about legislation that local governments can pass to provide jobs AND increase energy efficiency and reduce pollution.

More to come.

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