“A lot of the challenge is understanding what we as a species should do, because the disasters are getting more prevalent. In the last hundred years, both in human and financial costs, damages are skyrocketing. Most of that is just more people living in dangerous places, but climate change will be more of a factor as time goes on.”
The disaster in New Orleans was almost uniquely awful in modern American history. But even if Katrina isn’t likely to happen everywhere, something can happen almost anywhere—including, we now know, New York. And further to the north and east.
In his new book “The Disaster Profiteers,” Earth Institute professor John Mutter argues that natural disasters are bad for the poor–and can be great for the rich, who often seize resources meant for recovery, when no one is looking.
It is not that people have gotten amnesia and don’t remember the damage of Hurricane Sandy. Some homes are still being rebuilt and some people are still displaced. Moreover, the people who lead the shore towns in Long Island and New Jersey are speaking the language of climate resiliency.
Recent research suggests that Sandy may have been much more likely than previously believed.
In June 2013, the Rebuild by Design competition was launched to find innovative solutions to the vulnerabilities of the region that Sandy exposed. The six winning projects were chosen for their excellence in design and resilience, and engagement with local communities. How will they protect their communities?
Atmospheric scientist Adam Sobel is author of the new book “Storm Surge: Hurricane Sandy, Our Changing Climate and Extreme Weather of the Past and Future.” Sobel was one of the first researchers to explain to media and the public what might be brewing, before the storm hit. In the aftermath, he looked closely at the factors driving the storm’s unusual ferocity, and how these played against human weaknesses. The book offers a primer on what drives storm systems, and what we know (and don’t) about their relation to warming climate. Sobel also looks into future weather, urban infrastructure and the politics of global climate change. He recently discussed some of his insights.
Earth Institute experts weigh in as the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy approaches.
Earth Institute scientists across many disciplines are playing key roles in helping New York move forward following Hurricane Sandy. Many were already advising the city about the potential effects of sea-level rise, storm surge, climate change and related issues before the storm hit, For better or worse, their predictions were vindicated, and they now continue efforts to help make infrastructure and population more resilient and sustainable.
Shortly after Hurricane Sandy, Columbia University convened a forum featuring faculty researchers from The Earth Institute, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, NASA-Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the Mailman School of Public Health, the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of International and Public Affairs. This university-wide conversation, co-sponsored by The Earth Institute, Office of the Executive Vice President for Research, and World Leaders Forum, brought together just a few of the many Columbia researchers whose interdisciplinary work is adding to our understanding of the risks facing coastal communities, including New York City and its suburbs.