90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Sea Walls

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, New York looks at sea walls. So will we.

Waves crash onto the sea wall protecting homes in Longport, N.J., Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, as Hurricane Sandy approaches the area. (AP)

Waves crash onto the sea wall protecting homes in Longport, N.J., Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, as Hurricane Sandy approaches the area. (AP)

Hurricane Sandy whacked New York so hard, in many quarters it’s still reeling.  That superstorm surge of water, roaring over Staten Island and the Rockaways, into New York Harbor, over Lower Manhattan, over Wall Street, into subways and power stations.  Into the heart of the biggest city in America.  It’s already cost billions.

It will cost billions more.  Now, some are saying it’s time to build a wall.  Not little old-fashioned sea walls, but super storm barriers.  Mighty barricades and huge harbor gates to hold out the sea.

This hour, On Point:  barricading New York against a rising sea.

-Tom Ashbrook


Jim Dwyer, reporter for the New York Times.

Radley Horton, research scientist at the Center for Climate Systems Research, Earth Institute at Columbia University

Malcolm Bowman, head of the Storm Surge Research Group at SUNY Stony Brook.

Piet Dircke, director, Global Water Management at Arcadis, a consulting firm focused on infrastructure, water and the environment.

From Tom’s Reading List

ABC News “In the wake of superstorm Sandy’s massive destruction to coastlines in the East Coast, many experts suggest that a sea wall barrier could have minimized the deadly storm surge that swept away homes and knocked out power to millions.”

Time “It was called the Watersnoodramp, which in Dutch means “flood disaster”—and it certainly was. The North Sea flood of 1953 was the result of a high spring tide that met a strong storm, resulting in a storm surge that inundated the countries around the sea. Lives were lost in England, Scotland and Belgium, but the worst of the surge was felt in the Netherlands. The dikes and other sea defense built around the coast of the Netherlands were unable to defend against the surge, and nearly 2,000 people died in the ensuring flood. (Just to put that in perspective, the equivalent loss of life in the U.S. today would be over 60,000 people.) In a below sea-level nation that had always warred with the tides, the 1953 flood proved one of the worst in the history of the Netherlands.”

New York Times “After the enormous storm last week, which genuinely panicked New York with its staggering and often fatal violence, residents here could certainly identify with the first line of Benchley’s note. But what about the second?”


Here’s a National Geographic video on the North Sea Wall.


Check out this video from Arcadis on a concept barrier for New York City.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • sickofthechit

    Is there any thought to utilizing foreclosed housing for the people who lost their homes during Sandy?  Don’t the banks kind of “owe us”?  charles a. bowsher

  • AC

    ugh. one of my projects has completely washed away and is now on hold. i feel a little sorry for them, most states with a coast line knew this was coming and tried to prepare, but it’s obvious now, they shouldn’t have waited. FEMA money will help ease the burdens tho, if there’s a silver lining here….it’s the old pay now or pay more later scenario (heed my warning non-global warming skeptics!!)
    i thought i would be slow, but thanks to Sandy, suddenly everyone wants me – NOW. yay ‘job security’ i guess….

    • JGC

      What was your project?

      • AC

        i can only say it was for CT along the long island sound

    • Gregg Smith

      Congrats AC. I know you don’t have a mean bone in your body but be careful. Ask Chris Matthews.


      • AC

        yikes! no no no!! what i meant to convey is that people only seem to want us AFTER the disaster; suddenly they realize we’re worthy of some love….ugh boy – no good way to say it, is there?

        • Don_B1

          Not only was Matthews wrong on implying that the Storm was a good thing, but he was wrong in implying that its occurrence importantly benefitted Obama.

          On that last, it is all the “pundits” and particularly those Tea/Republicans who are outraged that Obama won the election that are making it. They are just building false excuses for their failures.

          When you follow the polls, as aggregated by Nate Silver, Sam Wang, Electoral Vote, Drew Linzer, Pollster, Talking Points and others, ALL showed Obama’s likelihood of winning regaining from the losses following the 3 October first debate by the middle of October. The “working across party lines” of Obama-Christie interaction probably did not do much more than confirm peoples minds, if they needed it.

          But all that does not negate the desire, and even the need , to find a “silver lining” in black clouds that come our way.

          For more on the “rage against poll aggregators,” see:


  • Fiscally_Responsible

    Let the people who can build the kinds of houses featured in your picture pay for the sea wall and pay realistic, unsubsidized rates for flood insurance, if any companies are willing to provide it.

  • Gregg Smith

    They should have started with prepositioning generators and water before the storm.

    • JeanBruce

       People were supposed to leave. Reassuring them of “services” lets folks think that it won’t be so bad.

  • http://twitter.com/cleantechcities John Macomber

    In addition to engineering, we need to think about prioritization and how to pay.  Three ideas in HBS “Stop Talking About the Weather and DO Something: Three Ways to Finance [prevention, adaptation, and reslience]” http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/7129.html Property negotiation, private finance of public infrastructure, insurance (!).

  • J__o__h__n

    This is all a hoax.  More tax cuts will solve it. 

  • ttajtt

    board walk storm wall i did say earlier.  Utopia re- building sub way – L train, natures own drain water ways, but with oil /gas… pipes in placement of lines for a “prevention” and in security.  a big area to map out passages.   red where a squirrel could run from the east coast to the mississippi river without touching the ground.   lack of trees now, via changed, an arrgument of why what caused (to us) the dust bowl.   but in nature its like flushing the toilet.  so we must be/are the cling on trekkers. 

  • Joseph_Wisconsin

    It may not be a bad idea.  Since the   the outlook for getting serious about reducing carbon dioxide emissions does not look good global warming will continue.  This means rising sea levels and more frequent occurrences of severe weather like Sandy.  Can’t address the real problem? Band-aids may be what we have to go with.

    • Don_B1

      What is needed is for the majority of the people to convince, or elect convinced people to, Congress that not reducing CO2 emissions will be outrageously expensive.

      In the fall of 2011, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published a report with the conclusion that for every $1 NOT spent to mitigate CO2 emissions before 2020 will cost $4.30 after 2020 to mitigate or recover from.

  • Jasoturner

    I’m not sure America is rich enough to carry out mega-infrastructure projects like this any more. 

    This strikes me as something that would be interesting to study as an engineer, but I would not hold my breath waiting for actual construction. 

    Worth remembering too that a single design oversight or the breeching of such a system could result in as much damage as if we had never done anything at all in the event of another super-storm.  Are we *so* confident about America’s engineering prowess that we would spend billions on a system we hope never to need to use?

    Not saying this can’t be done, but what a challenge!  Remember the Japanese Tsunami.  Is there a man-made structure anywhere in the world that could have withstood that?

    • AC

      hey – that’s me you’re referring to! most projs are being set up as public/private partnerships now – it’s not fair for the gov to pick up the entire tab, so i’m ok with this.
      take a look at this study done if we DONT invest, in ports and other infrastructure:

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        And that top photo of McMansions really doesn’t cover what we’re dealing with here.

        Why isn’t the map of the evacuation areas of greater NYC at the top of this page?

        That’s pretty damn relevant to the whole storm/sea level discussion, and shows the cross-section of society which this affects: All income levels, all building types, all economic sectors, all transportation modes (except for perhaps the best surfers).

        (The idea also applies to Florida.)

      • Don_B1

        As with every project, there are side effects, which are hopefully planned for.

        The one for the “sea gates” that could protect NY Harbor, is that the water prevented from entering will go elsewhere, creating currents that may increase damage in other places. This may or may not be that significant. But lowering the probability of a storm like Sandy (or worse, which otherwise WILL happen) is the best approach.

  • ttajtt

    stone last longest.  stores or apartments, a fenced buffer – drain – wildlife – i don’t see a mile 100 floor story one, but as a peak?  air port on the roof, we are to have half car/plain transpo? 

    i also think at lest 100 yard buffer of shore ta man mades. nature lover. river or lake – ocean shore.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    How many sea walls can we build in New York, NJ and CT before those states are no longer “tax donors”, i.e. break even with the receipts they subsidize “freedom loving” “low tax” red states with?

    • Don_B1

      Since it is the bone-headed policies of those “red” states that are preventing the most effective responses to these threats, making them pay just might be fitting.

      In other words, they can support a carbon tax now or have to suffer “big government” and huge tax increases in the future, along with the effects of lost GDP due to environmental destruction in the future.

  • Roy-in-Boise

    With any challenge first we must identify the elements of the problem. Sea level is rising due to the retreat of Arctic ice. Climate change is a variable in this process. In the end sea walls will be needed in many urban places. Think Holland.

    • Don_B1

      The melting of ice that floats on the Arctic Ocean does not cause the seas to rise directly. It is the melting of the glaciers that are on Greenland and northern Canada and Siberia (Glacier National Park in Montana will be without glaciers in 20 years or so) and Antarctica that are (will be) increasing the sea height directly.

      But the exposing of Arctic Ocean water to absorption of the Sun’s radiation (energy) that is heating the Earth and raising temperatures and melting glaciers, thus raising sea levels.

      Note that melting glaciers also changes the stresses within the Earth’s crust, thus changing the shape of the sea bed, effectively raising sea levels more in some places than in others. The North Atlantic is expected to suffer increased sea level rising above other areas for this reason.

      Just as the weight of the water stored by China’s Three River Gorge Dam is expected to cause earthquakes, the loss of (e.g., Greenland) glacier weight may do so here also.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Yeah, right. Maybe 50 years ago – but now we’re broke.

    The question should be “when will they relocate Wall Street?”

    • AC

      believe me, there are plenty of business willing to pay for it – they stand to lose BILLIONS!!

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

        You mean there are plenty of businesses willing to let someone else (like us) pay for it. One of the reasons for pushing for big public projects to “fix” things is that the public pays for it.

        • ttajtt

          rent, city east coast wall line a long termed thing for now.

    • ChevSm

      They already have started to relocated Wall st.

      They built a huge contingency center in Northern NJ after 9-11 that no one is supposed to know about.

    • Don_B1

      The reason the country is “broke” is that the Reagan tax reform of 1986 put the country on a path of letting the rich continually enrich themselves at the expense of investments in our future, from cuts in basic research to roads, bridges and rail transportation, particularly public transportation in cities which would make them more livable.

  • JeanBruce

    I like Galveston’s answer. They lifted the city above the gulf. Do they propose locking ocean going traffic into the harbor?

    • ttajtt

      geologic talking that area is sinking, largest quake and it sank.   long term cave thinking. 

      • DrewInGeorgia

        Galveston, Ugh.

        • ttajtt

          well the south east conner inland way florida to louisiana.  over where the meteor hit.   

  • TomK_in_Boston

    A wall around the coal mines might be more effective.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      To heck with walls, we need to bury them before they bury us.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Security is an illusion. If Mamma Nature wants to slap us in the face she will continue to find a way regardless of how high we build our Sea Walls. I think we should all give relocation greater consideration. If you build your house on the sand and it gets washed away, why would you rebuild in the same spot? If you choose to rebuild on your foundation of sand you need to own the repercussions and stop making others pay for your belligerence.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    There are island nations planning for the day they no longer exist. Multi-billion dollar band-aids are not going to cut it.

  • Potter

    This is a warning. People who have had severe damage should move. Walls will take time. Homes can be raised too– but the people on the edges of Long Island need to think of living elsewhere.

  • Davesix6

    Climate change is occuring, as it has since before human history.
    If it is occuring as part of the Earths natural cycles and not the result of human behavior, then New York and probably others would be well advised to build their wall.
    Cities and even entire civilizations no longer exsist or have relocated throughout human history as a result of climate change.

    Why should we believe that somehow our civilization is exempt?

    • nj_v2

      ^ The Flat-Earthers have arrived in the forum.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      How do you know its a natural cycle? A faux news talking head?

      One of the few things that we can know for sure in this area is that the unprecedented rise of CO2 in the atmosphere is from human activity. That’s because man-made CO2 has a different % of the isotopes of C than natural CO2. If human activity has raised the atmospheric CO2 to levels that have always corresponded to a hot earth and you are sure that we’re seeing a natural cycle, congratulations.

  • Potter

    This is not like France Belgium the Netherlands–people do not have to move to other countries

  • http://www.facebook.com/vudumike Mike Kulick

    The Koch brothers must be giggling themselves silly hearing people propose massive engineering projects to combat the effects of global warming. I imagine McDonalds felt just as giddy when liposuction and gastric bypass surgery went mainstream.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.kellawan Chris Kellawan

    Necessity is the mother of invention, perhaps the vulnerability of these major population centers is the necessary catalyst to usher in a new era of eco-construction, that exists in harmony with Earth whilst protecting us from a warming planet.

  • L armond

    All aboard for New Amsterdam!  Don’t let Donald Trump lead you down any yellow-brick road.  Thank god the Navy lifting their piers in Norfolk got out 2 years ago, and some were able to hear some facts, not some ‘beliefs.’  The Southerners of Virginia, and their ‘insight’ into mother nature, don’t care how you Yankees experiment and ‘waste money’ against the plan of God.  Nope, they will rail against you, so you just have to let them go back to their swamps, and keep on carrying on with long range planning, and lack of short-sightedness.  Yes, sophisticated analysis of all the pros and cons, even if 50 years too late.  How are we going to live the next 50.  I’d take a water taxi anywhere, and not mix with the Deniers any day.  I am of the ‘Vinegar Joe’ Stillwell approach to building the Burma Road, and don’t want to hear from Pat Robertson.  He can take care of himself.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Even if we reverted to a seventeenth century life–and managed to bury the billions who would die as a result–warming would continue for some time, given all the CO2 in the air.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pamohearn Pamela Paasche O’Hearn

    I think it is time for us to start really thinking in the long term. not 10 year plans, not election cycles, but what do we want over the next 500-1000 years. Much of the aftermath could have been ameliorated by not being dependent upon connected systems. backup systems on the major buildings of solar, wind, etc. water storage, green roofing, better, more resilient building design, all would have made people’s lives less miserable after the storm.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1533378781 Neil Vigliotta

    You can add a wall/barrier for NYC, but, remember that much of the southern part of Brooklyn and Queens (ie, Breezy Point and Far Rockaway) are directly on the water (not the harbor).  A wall across the mouth of the Hudson might help, but that won’t stop the Ocean on the south shore of these two boroughs.  And we’ve not discussed the LI Sound interaction…

  • Andrew_Schulz

    New York needs $15 billion for a seawall while Canada is seeking hundreds of billions of foreign investment to develop Alberta’s tar sands.  Maybe the oil industry should pay for this sea wall. Crazy worldwide investment priorities!

    • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.foust.923 Jeff Foust

       We really ought to have a public private partnership and we need a 2 way wall to prvent water overtopping the walls and then being trapped in the city.

  • climinlark

    How about solar panels on each roof to help with the power-out problem?  Plus building up — i.e ground floor ok to flood as in coastal FL?

  • ToyYoda

    I really wish you didn’t cut off Piet so much, of all your guests, he would have the most experience about preventing floods, and his insights seem original too, like the last idea (which was cut off) about not focusing so much on global warming and thinking about floods vs assets/life protection.

  • http://www.facebook.com/exclaim Rich Maltzman

    I’m a co-author of a book about sustainability and project management (Green Project Management).  As we discuss sustainability with project managers, we get pushback.  Here’s an actual example: “Get out of our face with your global warming stuff, we have enough constraints already with scope, time, and cost”.

    What OnPoint has brought up here should re-engage Project Managers if for no other reason than it appeals to their sense of ‘job security’.  I would guess that even the most “denying” of the climate change denial crowd would not turn down a job for $253,000 per year as chief project officer of the New York Barrier!

    Thanks for bringing yet one more element of rationale in our argument that Project Managers need to understand sustainability and its full benefit and effect on our discipline.

    Rich Maltzman, PMP, co-author of Green Project Management and co-founder of http://earthpm.com

  • L armond

    Even as we speak, Pat Robertson, and other Evangelicals, including those resident at UVA, are planning on building an Ark, and are still searching for it, and climbing up to the top of mountains to bring down new revelations.  I am not against spiritual people, that is my background.  But being ‘mentally castrated’ by the right wing of the New Republican Party, makes them a danger to themselves and others, and the Oil lobby will support them to the end.

  • simple_human

    It is a very romantic notion and stuff of SciFi movies as well interesting engineering simulations in engineering curricula but are we seriously thinking building a human-made wall is going to protect the geographic changes that are going to happen?  We need to rebuild elsewhere away from the oceans and away from tactonic plates if possible (even though the latter has been successfully done in Japan.)  Doing so can also create jobs in this economy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.foust.923 Jeff Foust

    We’ll probably need a public private partnership to pay for such a wall and then to plan it as a two way wall so if the water overtops the wall it won’t be stuck in the city; also to calculate effects on surrounding areas and people. We’ll need to find a way to include all stake-holders.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.macdonald.9638 Ian MacDonald

    Why is no real discussion of building and designing for the climate and environment. Part of the problem is that society is built to the edge of water, on landfill, with construction that is not optimized for those conditions… A smarter choice would be to start designing for the region and perhaps NOT building in some areas.   

    • Paul Skogstrom

       Just getting to this conversation requires a completely new outlook.  We can’t get the people required to even sit down and allocate the funds to keep up with our fiscal obligations.  Half of them will not even admit that there is a problem. 

      How do we convince those people to move out of there coastal bungalows, stop filling in marshland for new developments and fund solutions to problems that they refuse to acknowledge even exhist.

  • nj_v2

    Western civilization (in the non-oxymoronic sense) owes practically all its infrastructure to cheap, readily available fossil fuel. Settlement patterns, transportation, food, commodities… All manufactured with, fueled by, nearly totally dependent on carbon fuels.

    In addition to that, human population numbers now exceed the ecological carrying capacity of the planet’s natural systems, given the ways we currently feed, house, heat, and move ourselves.As we pass into, through, and beyond Peak Oil (we’re on the leading edge), trying to reconcile an unsustainable infrastructure and the side effects of our creations—global climate disruption, pollution, depleted soil fertility, etc.—with available choices will become increasingly difficult.

    Today’s discussion focuses on some of the “easy” solutions to one particular problem. Building dams to hold back the occasional, though increasingly frequent storm, is really just a finger-in-the-dike solution.

    The difficult issues—population, settlement patterns, resource consumption, energy efficiency—is a can that will continue to get kicked down the road.

    There’s no way we can continue to prop up a system which is fundamentally unsustainable with techo fixes that don’t address the root of the problem.

  • Davesix6

    Severe, destructive storms hitting the US, even New York, are not a new phenomenon. Look for yourselves.
    List of New York hurricanes Wikipedia; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_New_York_hurricanes

    Here’s a sample;
      Before 1800between 1278 and 1438 — A major hurricane struck the modern-day New York/New Jersey area, probably the strongest in recent millennium.[1]
    August 25, 1635 — A hurricane that is reported to have tracked parallel to the East Coast impacts New England and New York, although it remains unknown if any damage occurred.[2]
    September 8, 1667 — A ‘severe storm’ is reported in Manhattan and is reported to be a continuation of a powerful hurricane which affected the Mid-Atlantic.[2]
    October 29, 1693 — The Great Storm of 1693 causes severe damage on Long Island, and is reported to create the Fire Island Cut as a result of the coast-changing storm surge and waves.[2][3]
    September 23, 1785 — Several large ships crash into Governors Island as a result of powerful waves which are reported to have been generated by a tropical cyclone.[3]
    August 19, 1788 — A hurricane strikes New York City or Long Island and is reported to have left the west side of the Battery “laid in ruins” after severe flooding occurs.[3]  1800–99
    between 1278 and 1438 — A major hurricane struck the modern-day New York/New Jersey area, probably the strongest in recent millennium.[1]August 25, 1635 — A hurricane that is reported to have tracked parallel to the East Coast impacts New England and New York, although it remains unknown if any damage occurred.[2]September 8, 1667 — A ‘severe storm’ is reported in Manhattan and is reported to be a continuation of a powerful hurricane which affected the Mid-Atlantic.[2]October 29, 1693 — The Great Storm of 1693 causes severe damage on Long Island, and is reported to create the Fire Island Cut as a result of the coast-changing storm surge and waves.[2][3]September 23, 1785 — Several large ships crash into Governors Island as a result of powerful waves which are reported to have been generated by a tropical cyclone.[3]August 19, 1788 — A hurricane strikes New York City or Long Island and is reported to have left the west side of the Battery “laid in ruins” after severe flooding occurs.[3]

    • nj_v2

      Dave, Dave, Dave, you misread your talking points. As a Flat-Earth Denialist, proper technique requires you to go back before recorded history, at least an ice age or two.

      Yeah, sure, there have always been storms we’ve known about because people have been around to record them, but there’s no evidence that any of these were caused by any really large-scale, planet-wide or cosmic changes (axis tilt, insolation changes, etc.)

      What you want are ice ages, dinosaurs, that sort of thing.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Whoa, he just said NO butterfly effect. I’m not buying.

  • terry7

    A question for the expert guest from the Netherlands: have engineers in your country been investigating any solutions to this problem other than barriers to storm surges?  One futuristic idea I have heard about, though not applicable to cities full of skyscrapers, is that of building on floating platforms.  Are you aware of any other such novel engineering ideas?

    • L armond

      You know, back in the day, I saw a floating hospital, built to aid military in the pacific.  It was on display in Charleston, S.C., and I walked up ramps thru several of these floating facilities, although they were on land.  I saw emergency rooms, after care areas, etc., etc.  No one believes me, but I have no reason to lie about what I saw.  OOOOO I can smell the rubber, and the various smells of the ‘inner tube’ smell like it was yesterday!

    • IreneFi

      I’m a civil engineering student from the Netherlands, and yes we are also investigating such solutions. floating platforms, floating proof cities/villages true spatial planning and nature areas/fields are reserved for artificial/planned flooding when the waterlevel in our rivers are reaching critical heights. floating a empty field to store water is after all better than a city getting floated uncontrolled. But the primarily defence will always be our live safer, scinse half of our country lies beneath sea level….

  • Paul Skogstrom

    That is the nub.  How do we tie the cost into the investments?  How do we make this economically feasible?  How do we best fight global warming and greenhouse gas in an economically competitive way?  Is that even possible?

    Outside the box?  Outside of our atmosphere?  Can we capture greenhouse gases and vent them through the hollow cylinder of a space elevator, using the vacuum created as an energy source to both boost scientific research, the economy and start to reverse the damage we are doing to the planet?

    I’m no scientist, just a dreamer.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    Darned good question! There have to be some people near the proposed surge wall in New York harbor that will get higher water than they would otherwise. At the least, it will spread sideways since it can’t go through.  How many people near New York Harbor that just barely escaped flooding from Sandy would have been affected had the water not been able to flood Manhattan and the nearby boroughs?

  • OjosCriollos

    I’m writing from New Orleans. Fascinating discussion. Thank you. Two things: 1) The Corps of Engineers needs much independent oversight! New Orleans flooded because of their failed levee system and walls.  2) The area of LaPlace experienced severe, unexpected flooding due to Hurricane Isaac, and it’s still being investigated whether or not the new wall system protecting New Orleans was responsible.

  • AC

    i’m headed to S Carolina this afternoon – bulkhead failure –

  • http://www.facebook.com/ladyfishhead Jennifer Emmons

    Where is it going to go?  Look at LaPlace and Brathwait LA. after Issac. Thousands of home lost because they are outside the federal levee system.  The new levees after Katrina caused this.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    Check this interactive link:

    Lower Manhattan shoreline: 1600, 1766, 1803, 1834 and 2004. 

    There is a LOT of fill there and it was all flooded by Sandy. Is this “marshland” idea supposed to be another fill project except they don’t build on it (right away, you KNOW someone will eventually)?

  • Pingback: Sea Walls | On Point with Tom Ashbrook | Clearing House for Environmental Course Material

  • sickofthechit

    I of course Know everything about everything as evidenced by my fearless posting on a multitude of subjects, but I am totally clueless and do not understand how the polar ice fields melting will cause all this global flooding.  My reason for not understanding is that the “math” does not seem to add up.  If our globe is 95% water then to raise it even a foot would mean that the volume of water held in the ice fields would have to be an unimaginable height above sea level.  Could someone please disabuse me of my ignorance or direct me somewhere to learn the truth?  thanks, charles a. bowsher

    • nj_v2

      Additional volume from melting polar ice doesn’t account for all sea-level rise. When things get warmer, they tend to expand. Climate change is warming the ocean. Thermal expansion of seawater accounts for about 40% of observed rise in ocean levels.


      • sickofthechit

         Thank you for taking the time.  Can I pass this along to others with credit to you? charles

    • Paul Skogstrom

       If it were just water displacement you may have a point but it is not.  Ice melts, land is exposed, land thaws greenhouse gases trapped in soil is released and temperatures rise.  Ice no longer covers surface of polar caps and no longer deflects heat, energy is absorbed, temperatures rise.  Since Ice is inherently colder than water, when the ice melts, the water temperatures rise and the intensity of storms increase, ocean currents change and the effect keeps compounding itself.

      It becomes a Mobius Strip, going on and on.

      • sickofthechit

        Thank you for taking the time.  Can I pass this along to others with credit to you? I love the Mobius Strip analogy. charles

  • jerost

    Building massive seawalls to hold back the ocean reflects
    the myopic American approach of meeting any crisis with brute force rather than addressing its man-made causes. In world politics, we think military force before diplomacy; in medicine, we think medications and surgery before changing our own destructive meat, fried food and sugar-laden diets.

    We may well need to build seawalls but at the same time we
    should be already be acting on the climate change crisis and stop hurling carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and destroying the world’s climate. Congress should be scrambling to act on global warming NOW.


    Jeff Stone

    Milton, MA

    • Paul Skogstrom

       A large part of the problem is that it is not just us.  While we navel gaze about these large problems from an American perspective, China, Brazil, India and many other emerging economies are doing the same destructive practices, and much worse. 

      Big changes that we sit here and propose will be seen as anti competitive to growth.  The chattering class will call it unfunded spending and it will drive a larger wedge between the left and the right.   It will be politicized, marginalized and used in the next election cycle (which will probably start any day now.)

      We need to figure out a way to make it appealing to the private sector so that Washington will make it happen.

      Big new ideas

      • Potter

        The problem is making that a problem. We don’t just propose. The idea is to make the necessary changes and be an example to the world instead of a laughing stock about our denial of climate change.

        Part of Obama’s message was to take care of things at home. There is no reason why “growth” ( economic) cannot happen this way ( see Al Gore). This could be government stimulus spending and private investment.The chattering classes? Maybe at least some people, maybe a majority of them,  deserve more credit.

      • dudebuddy

        if you think somebody can protect you from an ocean, find out what an ocean is.

  • Shag_Wevera

    This country can’t build things like this.  The benefit is too far off and hypothetical, and there isn’t and fast money to be made from it.  Socialisty Europe, sure.  Capitalisty America, uh-uh.

  • TomK_in_Boston

    I’m convinced that we are drastically endangering our future, but the problem of the developing economies is real. If we cut back and they don’t, we’re still screwed. The only hope is international cooperation.

    If we build a wall in New York, can we leave the investment banks on the outside?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YT47M7DDCSWKCJUWXZUTCNCEBU Martha

    Too Much Magic…  as James Howard Kunstler tells us, we cannot depend on technology to bail us out, so to speak.  We won’t have the capital for such projects, we won’t have the materials, we won’t have a chance against natural forces.  We need to re-imagine our cities, we need to prepare for a far different world than we now know.  We can start in our smaller cities by making them work for walking, cycling, and public transportation, without dependence on cars. Starting to get off topic, but hey, everything is connected, isn’t it?

  • wedemay

    Both fiscally an environmentally we must tax all corporate profits @20% and then take that money to build new citys and employ our country to build them. Now is a time for vision, commitment and responsibility to our country and the enviorment. All these city’s can be 100% solar, and green truck garderns on walls behind thick glass all built in the usa and to last us a millinum. We need to step forward awake.

  • JimmySmith100

    A drawing by my friend and really great artist, Jeff Konigsberg, who lives and teaches in Boston.  He posted this print as For Manhattan and Lebbus Woods. https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc7/403482_10151311061041495_640470439_n.jpg

  • Pingback: NRP live radio debate: barricading New York against a rising sea | News | Dutch Water Sector

  • http://www.facebook.com/jvdnoort Johann van den Noort

    It is very dubious if a barrier before the Hudson Bay will
    protect New York City for flooding. The storm like Sandy gives in a great aria
    around NYC already many hours before the center of the storm reach the coast heavily
    rainfall.  Al this water has to be loosed
    by the river Hudson to the sea. With a river length of 316 miles it has a stream
    area to be serviced of 22662 square miles. The river gives normally a discharge
    flow of 606 m³/ sec. With the rainfall of Sandy the discharge flow can easily
    be doubled. When you close now the Hudson Bay with a barrier the discharge flow
    will let rise the water on the inside faster than on the outside of the barrier
    and NYC will flood.

  • Pingback: The Science and the Lessons of Hurricane Sandy – State of the Planet

  • dudebuddy

        the ONLY good thing about the Great Tsinami;
        Nobody is blaming global warming!

    • http://www.facebook.com/christopherjkok Chris Kok

       Ya, because the thermal dynamics of the earth’s core causing flows of magma and ultimately movement of the earth’s crust has nothing to do with global warming.

  • dudebuddy

    if someone convinces you that they can protect you from an ocean, find out what an ocean is. the netherlands have held off the sea for some time now. geologically, a quick blink of an eye.

  • Pingback: Environmental Consultants Discuss Resiliency Against Future Storms

Sep 2, 2014
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks with Mark Wilson, event political speaker chairperson, with his wife Elain Chao, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., Saturday, August 4, 2012. (AP)

Nine weeks counting now to the midterm elections. We’ll look at the key races and the stakes.

Sep 2, 2014
Confederate spymaster Rose O'Neal Greenhow, pictured with her daughter "Little" Rose in Washington, D.C.'s Old Capitol Prison in 1862. (Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

True stories of daring women during the Civil War. Best-selling author Karen Abbott shares their exploits in a new book: “Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy.”

Sep 1, 2014
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (95) recovers a fumble by Carolina Panthers quarterback Derek Anderson (3) in the second quarter of the NFL preseason football game on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh. (AP)

One outspoken fan’s reluctant manifesto against football, and the big push to reform the game.

Sep 1, 2014
This Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 photo shows a mural in in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago dedicated to the history of the Pullman railcar company and the significance for its place in revolutionizing the railroad industry and its contributions to the African-American labor movement. (AP)

On Labor Day, we’ll check in on the American labor force, with labor activist Van Jones, and more.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
The Five Midterm 2014 Races To Watch
Tuesday, Sep 2, 2014

The five most interesting races of the 2014 midterm election cycle, per our panel of expert national political correspondents.

More »
Our Week In The Web: August 29, 2014
Friday, Aug 29, 2014

On hypothetical questions, Beyoncé and the unending flow of social media.

More »
Drew Bledsoe Is Scoring Touchdowns (In The Vineyards)
Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

Football great — and vineyard owner — Drew Bledsoe talks wine, onions and the weird way they intersect sometimes in Walla Walla, Washington.

More »