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Friday, November 2, 2012

DOES NEW YORK CITY NEED A PROTECTIVE WALL?

Hurricane Sandy killed close to 100 in the U.S. and will cause total damages in the range of $50 billion.  She showed the vulnerability of New York City.  As global warming occurs, hurricanes can only get worse, and the sea level will rise.  Does New York City need to better protect itself from nature?

Worldwide, 40 countries depend on seawalls, and the need will grow as the oceans rise.  Just Venice (Italy) is spending $7 billion to block regular high tides.  California is contemplating allocating $14 billion to protect its vulnerable urban coastline, appreciating that it will take another $1.4 billion/year to maintain them.  Seawalls can be expensive, and the energy cost high to pump the water back from where it came.

New Orleans began building levees as early as 1726, and would not exist today without them.  Remember the Little Dutch Boy who put his finger in a leaking dike?  Well, that was a story from 1865, but few in the Netherlands are familiar with this bit of heroism.  It is more an American tale.  Holland began building dikes more than a thousand years ago, but did not really get serious about these levees until a deadly flood of 1916 and a key moment and another storm in 1953.  Their system was then designed for a 10,000 year storm.  I'm still searching for what all this cost.  The size of the state of Maryland, 60% of the people of the Netherlands live below sea level (27% of their land).

You wonder why New Orleans and the Netherlands even bothered to build levees.  It would have been cheaper and easier just to move the people.  

The New York Metropolitan area is different.  It is there with, oh, a population of 21 million.  Hurricane Sandy returned to the priority list of public projects a wall to protect the area.  Click on a 2009 article entitled, "New York City Braces for Risk of Higher Seas."

Certainly, Manhattan can make a case for being the first, as it looks like their subway system will not totally recover in only a few days, as stated by Mayor Bloomberg.  Most experts say weeks, and some, even months.  This is the very worst cataclysm for a 108 year old system.  

They recently spent $400 million for more powerful pumps to take care of the 14 million gallons they daily need to remove.  This was just for a normal day.   Can you imagine this city without a fully functioning subway?  The case, with a lot of Federal funds, will be made for floodgates or partial sea walls to cost many billions.

Mayor Bloomberg bowed to all the outcry and cancelled the New York City Marathon.  This was their first in 42 years of the event.

I had my Friday lunch at the beach on Magic Island.  My Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle again visited:


It's that brown spot in the middle.  Actually, the green honu is brown:


There was the usual wedding ceremony:


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