24 June 2013

Is NYC's Climate Resiliency Plan Too Shortsighted? Geophysicist Klaus Jacob Thinks So

"We have to have a long term view to create meaningful short term solutions," so says Klaus Jacob, research scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.

Jacob warned of New York's vulnerabilities to severe storm flooding long before Sandy and has emerged as a central figure in discussions about post-Sandy New York City.

In an interview with City Atlas, Klaus Jacob talks about flood risks, managed retreat, and taking a long-term view on resilience design. Read more about Jacob's response to NYC's new Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency report here.

New York City's plan, "A Stronger, More Resilient New York," contains actionable recommendations for rebuilding communities in the wake of Sandy, as well as increasing the resilience of the city's infrastructure. It can be downloaded here. 

Jacob feels that some of the recommendations in the report are dangerously unsustainable because they’re based on short-term assumptions, making climate adaptation even more difficult for future generations. The uncertainty in long-term projections should be actively considered to build a New York that can respond to a range of future scenarios.

"I’m not making any projections what NYC will look like in 50, 100, 200 years," Jacob imparts. "But I don’t want to create solutions now that I know will not survive for those time horizons. That's all I'm saying. Future generations will have to deal with their own problems. But we should not create liabilities now for them." 

Here's the video interview from TheCityAtlas.org: