Climate change is happening and is expected to intensify over the next decade and on. Despite our perceived status as a blue city in a blue state, we still have a lot of work to do.
Some of the lack is tied to the burgeoning real estate interests in our waterfront areas. The Flushing Waterfront Development Project, the “YourLIC” project at Anable Basin, the Brooklyn-Queens Connector trolley, and Hallet’s Cove are all emblematic of this interest.
As a first step towards preparing for climate change, we must stop all new development and construction in the floodplain. This is reckless and irresponsible development that brings rising tides along with rising land values.
Any changes to open land in the floodplain should be made with the singular goal of mitigating the effects of climate change. For example, instead of 60-story towers in Anable Basin, the Long Island City Coalition has been arguing for a wetlands park that would help absorb flood waters. Further, they position the park as an outdoor community space in an area where those are scarce; and one that could be tied into educational programming around climate change and resiliency and urban development.
In addition, buildings in the floodplain must be shored up and upgraded as needed to better withstand rising tides and stronger winds and storms. Our aging public housing stock should be a priority. (Are there regulations for private buildings?)
Additional precautions should be explored and pursued to protect our communities in the face of climate change. For example, mesh network technology has been used to create community-based wireless networks in places where the internet is not available or affordable. In New York City, NYC Mesh is one entity that provides internet to neighbors using this technology and in many cases has been thought about in relation to internet equity.
Mesh network technology is also a useful tool when thinking about how to prepare our communities for climate change. Mesh network technology is a decentralized form of communication which means that if part of the network is affected by an adverse weather event, the network remains intact and useable because other parts of the network are unaffected. This also means that the larger the network, the more resilient it is. This can offer a critical lifeline going forward, as storms are expected to intensify because of climate change.
While we have begun thinking about this, our goal is to meet with grassroots groups across the borough to expand and firm up our thinking.