This is part 1 of a 2 part interview. Read part 2 here.
Geophysicist Klaus Jacob has been warning about how vulnerable New York City is to violent weather for years and, more importantly in his view, how climate change and rising sea levels will transform the shape and character of the metropolis.
Weeks before Superstorm Sandy shocked the city and upended the public discussion about preparing for future extreme weather, The New York Times published an interview with Jacob in which he said that the storm surge from Hurricane Irene came only a foot from paralyzing transportation in and out of Manhattan.
“We’ve been extremely lucky,” Jacob told the Times. “I’m disappointed that the political process hasn’t recognized that we’re playing Russian roulette.”
Now, in a sit-down interview with the Gotham Gazette, Jacob describes his struggles to get Washington and Albany, as well as the city, to pay attention to the peril of rising sea levels; how some proposed solutions like flood gates would likely cause more trouble than they are worth; and how he thinks the city’s shrinking footprint will lead to more densely populated neighborhoods on higher ground and the loss of coastline.