Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hurricanes, typhoons and the worl'd top financial centers

Chris Mooney in the Daily Green: …[A]t some point, simply due to the law of averages we are going to get a very strong storm directly hitting one of these extremely wealthy and highly populous places — New York (# 2), Hong Kong (# 3), Tokyo (# 9). Consider Hong Kong for a moment. The Hong Kong Observatory helpfully provides an image of the tracks of storms that have scored “direct hits” at typhoon strength since 1956:

….A recent study by Rosenzweig and Gornitz in 2005 and 2006, using the GISS Atmosphere-Ocean Model global climate for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects a sea level rise of 15 to 19 inches by the 2050s in New York City. Adding as little as 1.5 feet of sea level rise by the 2050s to the surge for a category 3 hurricane on a worst-case track would cause extensive flooding in many parts of the city. Areas potentially under water include the Rockaways, Coney Island, much of southern Brooklyn and Queens, portions of Long Island City, Astoria, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Lower Manhattan, and eastern Staten Island from Great Kills Harbor north to the Verrazano Bridge.

Now, maybe this is just disaster porn. But I prefer thinking about worst-case scenarios before they happen. And there’s no doubt that some of these worst case scenarios are very, very bad indeed. Every time we see a Wipha or a Fitow, then, we shouldn’t merely breathe a sigh of relief — we should redouble efforts to be ready for the day when nature stops doing us any favors.

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