The impact of climate change on New York City could be even more severe than previously thought, putting more people at risk from increasingly frequent floods and heat waves, according to a report by the New York City Panel on Climate Change that was released Monday.
Last October, Superstorm Sandy provoked widespread frustration and fear after it left more than 7.5 million people in the New York Metro area without power. In the hardest hit areas, outages lasted two weeks or more. These failures led many observers to wonder if America’s aging electrical grid was up to dealing with emerging climate and other challenges.
When the Environmental Defense Fund asked me to measure how biogas cook stoves were changing the lives of farmers in rural India, there wasn’t a word in that question with which I was comfortable. Having just graduated from the Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development, I had never done fieldwork; and the concept of a biogas digester, which turns cow dung into natural gas through anaerobic digestion, was itself a mystery. I had no idea that this was the beginning of a steep learning curve into low-carbon development at a large scale. But even more, that it would provide a window into the lives of families whose existences have permanently improved thanks to the clean cooking stoves.
When architect Fernando Arias first arrived in Kumasi, Ghana last year, he saw unpaved roads, trash burning, garbage everywhere, and shoeless children running all around. He knew he needed to act on their behalf.
America’s strong water infrastructure has been key to its success as a nation. Yet the nation’s continual waste of water and lack of commitment to long-term water investments has halted its progress.
“This is a mess, and it is a mess that we have not attended to yet,” Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs said at a conference on water security held today at Columbia University. “Humanity is the driver, but we don’t have our hands on the steering wheel very much.”
Cynthia Rosenzweig of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies talks about the work of the New York State Ready Commission, set up after Hurricane Sandy to study how the state can better prepare for natural disasters.
The threat of sea-level rise–actually, its ongoing reality–has been on many more minds since New York and surrounding areas were walloped during Hurricane Sandy by a record-high storm surge, abetted by a water level that has risen steadily over the last century. That level will keep rising if climate keeps warming, and so, probably, will the frequency of extreme weather. That is why the new book Rising Seas: Past, Present Future by geologist Vivien Gornitz is a timely and important contribution to helping people understand the issue.
Working with engineering PhD candidate Rob Elliott, we imagined a green roof and blue roof system that would serve as a space for environmental education and student wellness, the culmination of a semester spent examining and taking action on stormwater management issues in New York City.