Protect New York City’s Mass Transit From Climate Change

Target: Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City

Goal: Protect New York City’s public transportation systems from the effects of climate change.

As 2012’s Hurricane Sandy demonstrated, New York City, and its rail system (including subways and other tunnels) in particular, is quite vulnerable to the impacts of extreme weather — extremes only set to get much worse over the remainder of this century, what with a rapidly changing climate.

If one factors in the effects of sea level rises and increased rates of precipitation forecast for the Big Apple over the next 80-some-odd years, a truly grim portrait of the future emerges: As Scientific American reported in 2015, in a worst-case scenario, sea levels along New York City could rise six feet by the end of the century, engulfing huge swathes of the metropolis.

Last year, New York’s mayor Bill de Blasio released the city’s Fiscal Year 2017 Executive Budget, which details Gotham’s municipal expenditures. Of a total budget of $82.2 billion, less than $2 billion is invested in public transportation, and, according to the category “Coastal Resilience,” less than $700 million is being put towards protecting the city’s coastline from floods.

We believe such lax parameters for protecting New York City, one of the world’s premier cultural and economic hubs and home to over 8 million people, from the effects of climate change, is irresponsible, and that more of the city;s budget should go towards climate resilience. Please sign below if you agree.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mayor de Blasio,

We would like to bring to your attention the urgent issue of climate change and its effect on New York City: In particular, the consequences it already has, as well as those it will develop over the remainder of this century (and perhaps beyond), for the city’s public transport services.

With rising ocean levels come an increased incidence and intensity of storm surges, allowing the city’s seawalls to be more easily breached by the Atlantic. New York Magazine has reported that, “On a dry day,” the Metropolitan Transport Authority, “already pumps 13 million gallons of groundwater out of the [city’s] subway system,” and that the cost associated with pumping away this ever-increasing amount of water will likely increase beyond being “merely expensive” and become potentially “unmanageable” after 2050.

At the same time, greater quantities of precipitation will result from an increase in average global temperatures: It’s a general rule of thumb that rainfall intensity increases on average, across the globe, by around seven percent for each additional degree of global warming. The consequence here is that many more tracks and tunnels will be lying vulnerable along the Hudson and East Rivers’ rapidly-expanding floodplains. The website Live Science, citing a 2013 academic and governmental report on the effects of climate change on New York City, notes, “Instead of experiencing an average of two days per year with rainfall exceeding 2 inches (5 centimeters), New York City will endure up to five such days by 2020 — almost triple the current number.”

Despite this, less than $2 billion of Executive Budget FY 2017’s $82.2 billion is going towards transportation in the city, and less than $700 million of that is being put toward coastal flood defense.

Please urge your citywide government to reverse this trend, and increase New York City’s budget for climate resilience and adaptation.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Thomas Sørenes

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298 Signatures

  • Luciano Graniello
  • Barry Stephens
  • Eveline Mutsaerts
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  • sarah sowambur
  • Mary and Roger Stephens
  • Joseph Wenzel
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