There is something about these two articles that is deeply disconcerting about the real lack of preparation NYC has undergone for the next 100 years and about how blind we are to the problem of climate change. In the Executive Summary section of the NPCC Climate Risk Information Report, it states that Mayor Bloomberg convened the first New York City Panel on Climate change in 2008. It wasn’t until 2013 (FIVE years later!) that he convened the second panel, after Hurricane Sandy had occurred in October 2012. And while we have gathered data and come to the firm conclusion that climate change is occurring more and more rapidly, the only suggestions mentioned were to create more models and do more research. While there’s no denying the fact that scientific research and modeling are crucial to understanding how the next 100 years or so will unfold, it has no real value if it cannot be put into practice.
The MPRA study by Luca D’Acci really answers the question why do we wait until the problem has already occurred to do anything about it? “Societies and cities–their physical skeletons–are created by the constant game between private and public interest, personal and aggregate preferences/needs; and private and public interests depend on cultures, religions, politics, etc.” But this relationship goes both ways. People, too, are influenced by the physical cities they live in. This is why it’s so difficult to break the cycle once a city, such as NYC, becomes so deeply rooted in its ways. Because there is a lack of government initiative in terms of smarter urban planning, citizens do not feel the need to respond to climate change. Because citizens are not pushing for legislation, the government also occupies itself with more “urgent” legislations. The question is: who needs to make the first steps towards changing the way we prepare for the future?
New York City’s Panel on Climate Change produced a report claiming that by the 2050s the mean temperature of “typical” year in NYC will “bear similarities” to current Norfolk, Virginia; moreover, the report indicates that precipitation will increase, sea levels will rise, and 100 and 500-year floodwater heights will also increase. These statistics invoke some concerns for the future of New York City, and make it sound like New York is headed down the path of a city like Venice.
Is New York City the next Venice?
D’Acci discusses the power of citizens to influence urban planning. However, what he describes are natural, gradual changes (e.g., the changing of streets from pedestrian to vehicle oriented, and back to pedestrian/biker) made by multi-agent groups. This strategy is hardly compatible with climate change when we consider how fast it is happening (the New York City Panel of Climate Change starts its predictions in the 2020’s- 6 years from now) and the multitude of private interests that can arise.
My question then is, how do we apply the bottom-up system to climate change? Keeping in mind how immediate we need to act if we want to take preventative action, how difficult certain scientific solutions are to understand to the common person, and how different citizens might disagree (e.g. someone on higher ground and someone on lower ground). Should the bottom-up model of change be altered considering the immediacy and complexity of climate change?
“Is consumerism created by our consumption needs, or are our consumption needs created by Consumerism? Do religious and political-economic systems create our personal values and uses, or vice versa?”-D’Acci
To what extend to exterior forces influence our interior or personal thoughts, beliefs, ideas and choices? As the world around us is constantly evolving, are our ideas and beliefs constantly evolving, or do we stay true to ourselves?