For the June issue of The New Republic, I wrote about how New York and other major cities are struggling to protect themselves against upcoming extreme weather events and climate change.

Here’s the link: …

See below for ten items of note from the story.


Tomorrow’s extreme weather events are…..

1/ …major challenges that offer an opportunity to change how we think about overcoming some of the most pressing problems facing our cities and coasts.

it’s a mistake to simply ‘fight back’ against whatever we deem a threat. And the threats are only going to grow.

2/ As one climate scientist notes, for New York City, Superstorm Sandy wasn’t actually the big one, it could have been much worse. And as seas warm and the oceans rise, the chances of the next Sandy go up as well. By 2030, a Sandy-type storm could occur once every 5 years.

3/ But as much as New York City suffered during Sandy—$65B in damages, loss of life—in some ways it dodged a bullet during the storm.

4/ As was discovered by climatologists after the fact, if Sandy had hit NYC just 9 hours earlier, during high tide in the Long Island Sound, storm surges as high as 18 feet would have devastated parts of the South Bronx, the Hunts Point neighborhood in particular.

5/ Why is Hunts Point so significant?

Because it’s home to the Hunts Point Market–the produce, fish and meat terminals that account for nearly half of New York’s fresh food supply. Just on the produce alone: 3.3 billion pounds from 55 countries pass through the Market annually.

6/ Meaning, the Hunts Point Market is absolutely essential to the city’s daily existence.

“You hear people say New York is a melting pot, with world-class ethnic cuisine,” said Vincent Pacifico, owner of a large meat company at Hunts Point. “It all comes from the market.”

7/ But vulnerabilities to climate change aren’t just a major issue for NYC.

Across the country, our major cities are finally waking up to the stark realities of sea-level rise and extreme weather events, and how these phenomena threaten the security of their critical infrastructure like food systems.

8/ Is it to late for New York, San Francisco, and our other major urban centers?

Maybe not, especially as researchers and scientists continue to explore ideas around mitigated retreat, or retreat–which involves moving threatened residents and essential infrastructure to higher ground.

9/ But the notion of retreat is antithetical to the prevailing American method of reckoning with almost any challenge: Dig in and slug it out.

In the case of climate change, that means we’re trying to fight the rising tides with feats of engineering and technological guile.

10/ In the story, I detail some of the major challenges facing our cities because of climate change, and how retreat might be the smartest solution.

Check it out at this link.