Potsdam to New Amsterdam: your subways will flood

Savor this New York City official website photo of lower Manhattan in 1944. The coastline of the city hasn't changed much since then.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor

Savor this New York City official website photo of lower Manhattan in 1944. The coastline of the city hasn't changed much since then. But now some sare saying it won't be long....

The Old World is telling the New World to beware of global warming. Over in Potsdam they begun a conference of Nobel Laureates from many disciplines and other top researchers. And one of the first presentations there have severe warnings for New Amsterdam New York City. Head for Brooklyn Heights. Here's the text of the presentation:

"In the 20th century global sea level rose by 15 -20 cm. Currently, sea level is rising at 3 cm/decade, faster than projected in the scenarios of the IPCC Third Assessment Report. Future rise by 2100 will likely by less than one meter, but even if warming is stopped at 3 ºC, sea level will probably keep rising by several meters in subsequent centuries in a delayed response (Fig. 3). Coastal cities and low-lying islands are at risk. What is now a once-in-a-century extreme flood in New York City (with major damage, including flooded subway stations) would statistically occur about every 3 years if sea level were just 1 meter higher."

Another focus of the conference is reducing our CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The German Chancellor, Andrea Merkel, a scientist by training unlike some government heads, said it would five times more expensive in the long run to ignore global warming than it would be to cope with in now. Though it may not get picked up by U.S. news organizations, the AP provided coverage of Merkel's speech. According to AP she called for mandatory controls on emissions. Not something that could ever get approved by the current U.S. government.

Here's what AP reported, "Speaking at a symposium of Nobel laureates and other leading scientists, Merkel insisted that only by establishing limits on carbon dioxide output per individual around the world — suggesting about 2 tons per head — could the fight to stop global warming be effective...Her suggestion would mean drastic cuts: Germany currently has a carbon dioxide output of some 11 tons per person per year, while the U.S. is at around 20 tons per person." And Germany already gets one-third of their energy from nuclear plants, far more than the U.S. level of under 9%. That can only make nuclear power more politically appealling in Washington D.C. as the seas rise and the threatened subway problem bubbles to the surface.

The purpose of the Potsdam conference which Merkel strongly supported: generate ideas to combat the physical, social and economic effects of global warming. And maybe some way to keep the New York subways afloat.

Editorial standards