With no mention of climate change on mainstream media coverage of Hurricane Sandy and the complete lack of discussion about it during the 2012 presidential election, one may wonder ‘who is talking about climate change?” Climate change is unfortunately a seemingly no-go subject for politicians, but certain states (specifically those with a high risk to climate change impacts) have been discussing adaptation and mitigation measures and options.
During my water and policy course I was required to research and analyze the adaptation plan of a major coastal city. I wound up with Miami, while two other US cities, San Francisco and New York, were researched by other students. All three had adaptation plans in the works and all three required areas for improvement and faced challenges in implementing their plans.
But the point of this post is to highlight Dutch expertise in the area of adaptation measures, particularly in terms of flood prevention techniques and technologies. I came across this article which features one of my former professors from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Jeroen Aerts, discussing New York’s water problems. Aerts estimates the financial cost of an entire new water safety system (anywhere between 25 and 30 billion dollars) and highlights the fact that although this might seem like a lot of money for prevention, it may likely turn out to be lower than the combined costs of repairs and losses incurred by businesses.
A location’s risk is a function of the hazard and its vulnerability. With a super storm like Sandy coupled with New York’s high level of vulnerability (the most populous city in the US, one of the world’s major financial centres), New York is the third most vulnerable city in the world next to Miami (#1) and Venice (#2).
Some damage prevention techniques include levees, flood walls, super levees, river widening/deepening and detention areas, while some damage mitigation techniques involve elevation, wet and dry proofing buildings, and the Dutch also boast floating houses to deal with rising waters.
Changing and developing landscape results in high risk for climate change impacts: over time New York as become more vulnerable to rising seas and increased storm intensity and frequency.