Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Coastal City Resilience in the Face of Climate Change: The Case of NYU's Langone Medical Center

There is a full page ad on the back page of the B-Section of the NY Times today celebrating that NYU's Langone Medical Center is back in business after suffering bad damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in late October 2012.    Note that only 3 months have past.   Hurricane Sandy didn't destroy NYC.  This wasn't Pearl Harbor.   This is urban resilience in the face of climate change.  When I argued this point in my 2010 Climatopolis book, people thought I was overly optimistic about our individual and collective ability to adapt to evolving (but predictable) threats.  Unlike terrorists, we have a general understanding of how climate change will attack our cities.  NYU will invest in precautions so that future floods cause much less damage.  This is learning experience and forming rational expectations about the future is how adaptation will play out.    To be a pessimist about adaptation requires embracing a strong view of behavioral economics and to assume that those facing the threat have no financial resources to help them cope.