Adapting NY to the Changing Climate

Encore: June 12, 2014

Adam Glenn, founder and editor of AdaptNY, talks to MetroFocus host Rafael Pi Roman about his organization’s mission to keep climate change as an integral part of the discussion about recovery and rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy.

As the region continues to recover from Superstorm Sandy, there are several initiatives that are focused on weathering future storms. Rebuild by Design, a federal, HUD-sponsored contest, announced its winners recently and will award $920 million to fund projects like “the big U” to protect the region from rising sea levels and other effects of climate change. This week, MetroFocus takes a look at a much smaller project, AdaptNY, that aims to keep regional climate change issues at the forefront despite waning media attention.

AdaptNY is a project of CUNY Graduate School of Journalism professor Adam Glenn and is partnered with Gotham Gazette and Document Cloud. “I really started this experiment after the devastation of Sandy when I was seeing a lot of coverage and attention to recovery and also to how we would adapt to future extreme weather, but my journalistic instincts told me that after some short time that that attention would wane,” said Glenn.  “The effort was really to see if we could sustain the conversation and focus on this issue of climate adaptation and find better solutions by keeping the dialog going.”

 At a recent workshop hosted by AdaptNY and the Online News Association, journalists came together with professionals from other fields to brainstorm actionable, local ways for communities to adapt to a changing climate and prepare for future storms. “I think that one of the things journalists have done right on the climate change story generally is try to share as much information as possible about what climate change is, what risks face us and, to some extent, how we might adjust,” Glenn told Pi Roman. “I think where we have done less well is to foster a focus on how communities really need to understand this. It’s not just about an information dump, it’s about finding the information that communities really need to act.”

AdaptNY was founded with the goals of making sure that communities affected by climate change are informed and have a say in decisions that affect them and  that the climate change discussion doesn’t fall off the radar. “We journalists tend to cover stories in cycles and I think that’s one of the issues. These problems don’t happen in cycles. It’s a continuous issue, a continuous concern,” Glenn said.

The project collects and curates climate-related news and creates and sources data and expert opinions and shares them to create the basis for well-informed conversation. “With the idea of conversation also comes some kind of outcome, some action, what is it that we want? Conversation’s really only the beginning point,” Glenn said. “One of the more important outcomes of this whole project is to make sure that the neighborhoods, the communities that are most affected have a voice with the powers that be. And so my goal is really to involve them in the conversation, but bring them to action, bring them to the table where the decisions are being made about the future of their communities.”

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