Another former member of the panel, Klaus Jacob, a scientist at the Earth Institute at Columbia University, told The New York Times, in a prescient article published just six weeks before Sandy hit, that the city’s unwillingness to be more aggressive was akin to “Russian roulette.” Jacob believes that the city needs to build unbreachable gates to subways, tunnels and infrastructure to prevent water from rushing in. Despite the expense, he says that such a system would save billions by preventing storm damage.
In the aftermath of Sandy, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, has openly called for rethinking the way New York deals with storms. So far, however, Bloomberg has resisted. “The fact that we are close to the water shouldn’t be a surprise to everybody,” he sniffed on Thursday.
Barriers may not be the answer. But, clearly, the kind of small steps advocated by the city are almost laughably insufficient. What could be a more pressing short-term threat than horrific storms that can bring the city to its knees? And how can you say you are tackling climate change if you are not willing to face that threat squarely?