Text of ClimAID report, “Responding to Climate Change in New York State”

Photo: US Geological Survey

“If there is one thing we learned from Hurricane Irene,” Dr. Rosenzweig said referring to the tropical storm that pummeled the state this past summer, “we have a lot more we could be doing to prepare.” The ClimAID report, the New York Times reports its authors as saying, “is the most detailed study that looks at how changes brought about by a warming Earth – from rising temperatures to more precipitation and global sea level rise – will affect the economy, the ecology and even the social fabric of the state.”

See November 16 CSW post: ClimAID science report: New York state must prepare for climate change now

Responding to Climate Change in New York State – text of the synthesis volume and the full report

From the New York Times coverage, November 17:

From Shore to Forest, Projecting Effects of Climate Change

By Leslie Kaufman

Cynthia Rosenzweig, a senior research scientist at Columbia’s Earth Institute, said the report was much broader in scope than earlier efforts by New York City that tried to evaluate how best to prepare for climate change.

“New York City’s report focuses on how climate change will affect critical structures” like bridges and sewage systems, she said. “This report also looks at public health,  agriculture, transportation and economics.”

The authors drew on results from global climate models and then created projections  for variables like rainfall and temperatures for seven regions across the state. Then they tried to assess how those alterations would play out in specific terms. They also developed adaptation recommendations for different economic sectors. …

The report found that the effects of climate change would fall disproportionately on the poor and the disabled.

In coastal areas in New York City and along rivers in upstate New York, it said, there is a high amount of low-income housing that would be in the path of flooding.

Art DeGaetano, a professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at Cornell, said that its findings need not be interpreted as totally devastating.… “We expect, for example, that New York State will remain water-rich and we may be able to capitalize when other parts of the country are having severe drought.”

The next step, the authors said, is for them to meet with state agencies and try to work with them to carry out some of the report’s recommendations of ways to cope with climate change

One would be to get the state to routinely incorporate projections of increased sea levels and heavy downpours when building big infrastructure projects. They also  suggested protecting and nursing natural barriers to sea-level rise, like coastal wetlands, and changing building codes in certain area for things like roof strength and foundation depth in areas that would be hit hardest by storms.

“If there is one thing we learned from Hurricane Irene,” Dr. Rosenzweig said referring to the tropical storm that pummeled the state this past summer, “we have a lot more we could be doing to prepare.”

More CSW posts on Climate Change Preparedness


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1 Response to Text of ClimAID report, “Responding to Climate Change in New York State”

  1. Jennifer says:

    Excellent work, excellent article. Let me write a couple of words on social & legal context.

    So if an island nation is submerged beneath the ocean, does it maintain its membership in the United Nations? Who is responsible for the citizens? Do they travel on its passport? Who claims and enforces offshore mineral and fishing rights in waters around a submerged nation? International law currently has no answers to such questions.

    United Nations Ambassador Phillip Muller of the Marshall Islands said there is no sense of urgency to find not only those answers, but also to address the causes of climate change, which many believe to be responsible for rising ocean levels.

    “Even if we reach a legal agreement sometime soon, which I don’t think we will, the major players are not in the process,” Muller said.

    Those players, the participants said, include industrial nations such as the United States and China that emit the most carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases. Many climate scientists say those gases are responsible for global warming. Mary-Elena Carr of Columbia University’s Earth Institute said what is now an annual sea level rise of a few millimeters will increase dramatically by the year 2100. “The biggest challenge is to preserve their nationality without a territory,” said Bogumil Terminski from Geneva. International legal experts are discovering climate change law, and the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu is a case in point: The Polynesian archipelago is doomed to disappear beneath the ocean. Now lawyers are asking what sort of rights citizens have when their homeland no longer exists.

    At present, however, there appear to be at least three possibilities that could advance the international debate about ‘climate refugee’ protections and fill existing gaps in international law.

    The first option is to revise the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees to include climate (or environmental) refugees and to offer legal protections similar to those for refugees fleeing political persecution. A second, more ambitious option is to negotiate a completely new convention, one that would try to guarantee specific rights and protections to climate or environmental ‘refugees`.

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