Sunday, November 25, 2012

follow the food, o ye cities

The front page of the New York Times featured an image of the Statue of Liberty under water, accompanying an opinion piece about rising sea level keyed to several policy measures:  build seawalls, reduce global warming, move inland.  One example was to imagine the Manhattan skyscrapers rebuilt in Scarsdale.

That image of a successful adaptation by moving a few miles inland is an unchallenging Sunday message to numerous New Yorkers who could easily imagine a commute to Scarsdale without giving up their current homes and lifestyle. No problem!

That is a mistake. Moving NYC to Scarsdale is only about shorelines.
For a hypothetical example, a next-century hub for east coast international shipping could be Quebec City, instead of NYC, given the lower fuel use for water transport via Great Lakes and St Lawrence, and probable shift to crops grown further north, along with manufacturing in cooler climes.  

Beware the dangerously limited imagination that comes from extrapolating only one climate change factor, coastal sea level rise, while forgetting all the others.

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