METROFOCUS: APRIL 22, 2019

Climate change has the city at the mercy of Mother Nature. Just how wet and flooded will future New York be? No more chocolate, peanuts, or coffee? Climate change isn’t only about storms… The Hamptons is one of the most desirable yet one of the most vulnerable places in the U.S. We have the details. It’s more than just a smelly canal. We’ll bring you there to appreciate the role its played in NYC’s history.

Peril and Promise is an ongoing series of reports on the human impact of, and solutions for, Climate Change. Lead funding for Peril and Promise is provided by Dr. P. Roy Vagelos and Diana T. Vagelos. Major support is provided by Marc Haas Foundation and Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III.

Aired on April 22, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS,' SPECIAL EDITION EARTH DAY.

PERIL AND PROMISE, THE CHALLENGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE.

JUST AHEAD, NEW YORK'S SCARY WET FUTURE.

CLIMATE CHANGE HAS THE CITY AT THE MERCY OF MOTHER NATURE, AND WITH RISING SEA LEVELS WREAKING HAVOC AROUND THE GLOBE, MANHATTAN IS ONE OF THE WORLD'S TEN MOST VULNERABLE SPOTS.

WE HAVE A REPORT.

> NO MORE CHOCOLATE?

HOW ABOUT PEANUTS OR COFFEE?

CLIMATE CHANGE MAY MAKE THESE EVERYDAY PLEASURES A THING OF THE PAST.

WE EXPLORE WHICH OF THE FOODS WE LOVE MAY DISAPPEAR.

> THEN HAMPTON'S CASH AND CLIMATE CHANGE.

LONG ISLAND HAS SOME OF THE MOST DESIRABLE HOMES IN THE WORLD, BUT THEY'RE ALSO AMONG THE MOST VULNERABLE TO CLIMATE CHANGE.

WE HAVE THE DETAILS.

> AND A BODY OF WATER WITH A BAD REPUTATION.

THE GOWANUS CANAL IN BROOKLYN HAS BECOME KNOWN FOR ITS LESS THAN GLAMOROUS SMELL.

BUT WHAT MOST PEOPLE DON'T KNOW IT HAS PLAYED AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN NEW YORK'S HISTORY.

WE'LL TELL YOU HOW.

THOSE STORIES AND MORE.

'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY -- CORPORATE FUNDING BY METRO FOCUS WAS PROVIDED BY MUTUAL AMERICA, YOUR RETIREMENT COMPANY.

AND BY PSE&G, SERVING CUSTOMER, AND INVESTING IN THE FUTURE.

IT WAS THE WORST STORM TO EVER HIT THE REGION.

WHEN HURRICANE SANDY SLAMMED INTO THE NEW YORK AREA IN 2012, IT TOOK HUNDREDS OF LIVES, THOUSANDS OF HOMES AND BUSINESSES AND LEFT TENS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN DAMAGE.

AS IF THAT WEREN'T ENOUGH, SCIENTISTS SAY THAT SANDY WAS JUST THE BEGINNING.

A STUDY PUBLISHED BY THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES FOUND THAT ACROSS THE GLOBE, SEA LEVELS ARE RISING FASTER THAN THEY HAVE IN NEARLY 3,000 YEARS.

AND ACCORDING TO A REPORT RELEASED BY THE CORPORATION FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN 2008, THE NEW YORK REGION IS ONE OF THE TEN AREAS MOST VULNERABLE TO RISING SEA LEVELS, WITH 2.9 MILLION PEOPLE AND $2.1 TRILLION IN ASSETS POTENTIALLY AT RISK BY THE YEAR 2070.

SO HOW ARE WE PREPARING FOR WHAT MAY BE COMING?

AND IS IT ENOUGH?

JOINING US NOW TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS IS DR. RADLEY HORTON, ASSOCIATE RESEARCH SCIENTIST AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR CLIMATE SYSTEMS RESEARCH.

PROFESSOR, WELCOME.

THANKS.

IT'S GOOD TO BE HERE AGAIN.

NOW DR. HORTON, CAN YOU GIVE US A BRIEF SUMMARY OF WHAT THE NEW REPORT BY THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES FOUND AND WHAT THOSE FINDINGS MEAN FOR OUR REG?

ABSOLUTELY.

WHAT THE STUDY FOUND IS SEA LEVELS ARE RISING FASTER THAN THEY HAVE IN A COUPLE OF THOUSANDS YEARS OR MORE.

THE IMPLICATION IS THAT THE SEAS ARE RISING BECAUSE TEMPERATURES ARE GOING UP IN THE ATMOSPHERE.

AND IN THE OCEAN.

AND THE REASON TEMPERATURES ARE GOING UP IS BECAUSE WE'VE INCREASED THE AMOUNT OF GREENHOUSE GASES IN THE ATMOSPHERE.

IT'S MAN MADE?

IT'S MAN MADE.

SO WHAT WE'RE SEEING IS LAND-BASED ICE, ICE SHEETS IN GREEN LAND AND ANTARCTICA MELTING MUCH FASTER THAN THEY HAVE IN THE PAST.

WE'RE ALSO SEEING THE OCEANS AS THEY WARM, EXPANDING.

THAT IS CAUSING WHAT HAD BEEN A LITTLE BIT OF SEA LEVEL RISE TO BE MUCH FASTER AND THE RITE RAITT IS RISING.

WHAT IS TROUBLING BECAUSE THAT RATE IS ACTUALLY ACCELERATING, AS WE LOOK TOWARDS THE LATE PART OF THE 20th CENTURY, WE COULD SEE AN ADDITIONAL 2 1/2 FEET OF SEA LEVEL RISE IN THE NEW YORK REGION BY THE MID HALF OF THE SENT.

IT MAY NOT SOUND LIKE MUCH.

EVEN IF WE GET THE SAME STORMS IN THE PAST, WE DON'T NEED STRONGER OR MORE FREQUENT SANDYS, STORMS OF THE PAST WITH 2 1/2 FEET HIGHER WILL MEAN A LEVEL OF FLOODING THAT IN THE PAST HAS HAPPENED ONCE EVERY 100 YEARS IS HAPPENING IN THE TYPICAL LIFETIME OF A MORTGAGE LESS THAN EVERY 30 YEARS.

BUT THIS PROBLEM IS SO BIG, IT EVEN POSSIBLE FOR A CITY OR A REGION TO TACKLE IT ON ITS OWN?

DOES IT NOT NEED A GLOBAL SOLUTION?

IT DOES NEED A GLOBAL SOLUTION.

BUT THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS SIMULTANEOUSLY THAT WE IN NEW YORK CAN DO TO BETTER PROTECT OURSELVES AND TO LEAD THE REST OF THE WORLD.

THE FIRST THING IS REDUCING OUR GREENHOUSE EMISSIONS.

THE GASES DO LAST FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS.

THE REDUCTIONS WE DO IS NOT GOING TO HAVE A BIG IMPACT ON SEA LEVEL, BUT WE CAN LEAD OTHER CITIES, OTHER COUNTRIES.

BUT THERE ARE STEPS WE CAN TAKE WITHIN THE CITIES TO BETTER PREPARE FOR THE SEA LEVEL RISE WE KNOW IS COMING.

EVEN IF WE STOP EMITTING SOCIETALLY TOMORROW, WE'LL STILL SEE SOME SEA LEVEL RISE BAKED INTO THE SYSTEM.

WE'RE SEEING STEPS UNDER MAY BE THE THE REGION.

THINGS LIKE COASTAL BARRIERS ARE BEING BUILT.

WE ARE DOING THAT?

WE ARE BEGINNING TO DO THAT, ABSOLUTELY, AT SMALL SCALES.

WE'RE SEEING POLICY CHANGES IN THE REGION.

POLICIES BEING PUT INTO PLACE TO ENCOURAGE HIGHER LEVELS OF BUILDING, MOVING AWAY FROM THE COAST.

BUILDINGS BEING DESIGNED TO ACCOMMODATE OCCASIONAL FLOODING, PUTTING PARKING GARAGES ON THE BOTTOM FLOOR INSTEAD OF CRITICAL ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT.

THAT SECOND STUDY THAT I REFERENCE IN THE INTRODUCTION, THE 2008 OECB REPORT WAS PRETTY SCARY.

IN 2070, WE'D SEE ARMAGEDDON.

BUT OF COURSE, IT HAPPENED FOUR YEARS BEFORE SANDY.

DID SANDY CHANGE THE TRAJECTORY?

DID IT MAKE SOME OF THE CHANGES THAT SET THOSE PROBLEMATIC TIMES FURTHER AWAY?

SO SANDY IN ITSELF DOESN'T INDICATE THAT I'D SAY THE SCIENCE HAS NECESSARILY CHANGED THAT MUCH THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE RISK OF A STORM OF THE MAGNITUDE OF SANDY.

BUT I THINK IT HELPED PEOPLE, AND IT HELPED US SOCIETALLY TO UNDERSTAND THAT RISK, THAT BASELINE RISK IS THERE, AND THAT WITH SEA LEVEL RISE, THE RISK IS GOING TO BECOME GREATER.

IT ALSO HELPED BRING SOME ECONOMIC RESOURCES INTO THE REGION.

IT HELPED ENABLE TO DO SOME LONG-TERM PLANNING BECAUSE IT DIDN'T SEEM REMOTE ANYMORE, THIS IDEA THAT ALL OF OUR INFRASTRUCTURE AND PEOPLE ON THE COAST ARE VULNERABLE.

AND ONE OF THE MOST VULNERABLE AREAS WITHIN OUR REGION.

WHAT ARE THE MOST VULNERABLE AREAS?

WE HAVE LOW-LYING POPULATIONS IN BROOKLYN AND QUEENS, FOR EXAMPLE.

WE HAVE A LOT OF VALUABLE ASSETS AND PEOPLE IN LOWER MANHATTAN.

BUT WE REALLY SEE IT THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE EAST COAST OF THE U.S.

ARE THERE AREAS FROM WHICH REALISTICALLY WE NEED TO START RETREATING FROM?

I THINK AS A CULTURE, AS A SOCIETY IN THE U.S. AND GLOBALLY, WE NEED TO COME TO TERMS WITH THE FACT THAT THERE ARE AREAS WE'RE GOING HAVE TO RETREAT FROM.

CAN YOU GIVE SOME EXAMPLES?

WE TALKED OF MIAMI AS ONE EXAMPLE.

WHAT ABOUT IN THIS REGION?

HERE IN THIS REGION IT'S POSSIBLE LOWER MANHATTAN WE MAY BE ABLE TO BUILD A PROTECTIVE BARRIER THERE ARE OTHER AREAS --

WHAT ABOUT THE FAR ROCKAWAYS, LONG BEACH?

WHAT ABOUT PARTS OF NEW JERSEY?

SO I THINK THERE ARE RESILIENCY STEPS WE CAN TAKE, THE LESS FOR A WHILE.

WE'RE SEEING REALLY INNOVATIVE DESIGNS ALONG THE DESIGNS OF BREAKWATERS THAT COULD STOP WAVES COMING IN.

LONG-TERM, IF WE SEE THE UPPER END SEA LEVEL RISE PROJECTIONS, WE MAY OVER THE LONG-TERM NEED TO THINK ABOUT THE NEED TO EVACUATE SOME OF THESE AREAS.

ONLY 30 SECONDS LEFT OR LESS, ARE YOU CONFIDENT WE WILL HAVE THE WILL TO MAKE THE CHANGES THAT WE NEED TO MAKE?

I'M CONFIDENT THAT NEW YORK CITY IS SHOWING THE BEST LEADERSHIP THAT WE COULD LOOK FOR, REALLY.

THEY'RE CONSIDERING THE WORST CASE SCENARIOS OF SEA LEVEL RISE.

OF COURSE, I'M ALSO CONFIDENT THAT GLOBALLY AS A SOCIETY IF THERE ARE A LOT OF CITIES WE'RE NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO PROTECT.

IF YOU BUILD A BARRIER, THE WATER WILL SEEP IN MIAMI FROM UNDERNEATH.

ALL OVER THE WORLD, BANGLADESH, JUST TO GIVE ONE EXAMPLE, DELTA CITIES, MORE PEOPLE MOVING TO THOSE COASTAL AREAS.

THE VULNERABILITIES ARE HUGE.

WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO HAVE A DIALOGUE ABOUT HOW TO RETREAT AND PROTECT SOME OF THOSE PEOPLE.

DR. HORTON, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

A PLEASURE TALKING TO YOU.

THANK YOU.

> IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT CHOCOLATE, PEANUTS, OR EVEN COFFEE.

SCARY, RIGHT?

WELL, THAT MIGHT SOUND EXTREME.

THE SCIENTIST COMMUNITY AGREES THAT THESE FOODS ARE UNDER THREAT, AND CLIMATE CHANGES ARE TO BLAME.

SCIENTISTS SAY THAT RISING TEMPERATURES IN EXTREME WEATHER BROUGHT IN BY HUMAN ACTIVITY ARE MAKING IT HARDER TO GROW CROPS IN CERTAIN AREA, AND THAT THAT WILL LEAD TO SHORTAGES AND MORE EXPENSIVE FOOD IN THE SUPERMARKET.

NEW YORK AND OTHER STATES ARE NOW TURNING TO RENEWABLE ENERGY TO HELP REVERSE THIS TREND, AND MORE AND MORE ADVOCATES ARE SPEAKING OUT ABOUT THE POTENTIALLY DIRE EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON OUR FOOD SUPPLY, INCLUDING THIS FAMILIAR FACE.

ABOUT THE INTERSECTION OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE GLOBAL FOOD SYSTEM.

DURING THE COURSE OF MY PRESIDENCY, I MADE CLIMATE CHANGE A TOP PRIORITY BECAUSE I BELIEVE THAT FOR ALL THE CHALLENGES THAT WE FACE, THIS IS THE ONE THAT WILL DEFINE THE CONTOURS OF THIS CENTURY MORE DRAMATICALLY PERHAPS THAN ANY OTHER.

TONIGHT WE'RE TAKING A CLOSER LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF OUR FOOD AS PART OF OUR ONGOING SERIES OF REPORT, PERIL AND PROMISE, THE CHALLENGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE.

AND JOINING ME NOW WITH MORE ON THIS IS REBECCA BENNER, SCIENCE DIRECTOR FOR THE NATURE CONSERVANCY HERE IN NEW YORK.

BECCA, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US ON THE SHOW.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

GOOD TO BE HERE.

LET'S START WITH THE FUNDAMENTALS.

WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH CLIMATE CHANGE IN GENERAL, AND PARTICULARLY, HOW IS IT AFFECTING OUR FOOD SOURCE?

WELL, THE CLIMATE IS WARMING.

THAT LEADS TO MASSIVE CHANGES IN OUR WEATHER PATTERNS, WHETHER IT'S DROUGHTS OR FLOODS, MORE WATER THAT WE'RE NOT EXPECTING IT OR LESS WATER WHEN WE NEED IT.

THAT OBVIOUSLY HAS IMPACTS ON CROPS.

I MENTIONED CHOCOLATE, PEANUTS AND COFFEE AS BEING IN PERIL.

ARE THEY REALLY IN THE ENDANGERED LIST SO TO SPEAK?

AND WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OTHER FOODS THAT MAY BE IN PERIL.

YEAH, SO YOU NAMED THREE THAT ARE FOR ME SOME OF THE MOST DEPRESSING.

I SURVIVE ON REESE'S PEANUT BUTTER.

IT EAT A PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY SANDWICH EVERY DAY.

YOU'RE MAKING ME HUNGRY.

PEANUTS TEND TO GROW IN VERY FLAT AREAS THAT REQUIRE A CERTAIN LEVEL OF WARMTH, BUT NOT TOO MUCH WARMTH, AND A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF RAIN, BUT NOT TOO MUCH RAIN.

THIS IS HAPPENING MOSTLY IN THE SOUTH, VIRGINIA PEANUTS.

YOU HEAR ABOUT THOSE A LOT.

NOW WITH THE CHANGING CLIMATE, THOSE AREAS ARE GETTING A LOT WARMER.

AND THEN THERE IS DROUGHT SO THE PEANUTS DRY OUT.

AND THEN THE CACAO TREE WHICH PRODUCES CHOCOLATE, IT REQUIRES A CERTAIN ELEVATION TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION.

SO AS THINGS CHANGE, YEAH, THE CACAO TREE CAN MOVE UP THE MOUNTAIN, BUT EVENTUALLY WE'RE GOING TO RUN OUT OF MOUNTAIN THAT COULD SERIOUSLY INHIBIT OUR ABILITY TO HAVE CHOCOLATE AVAILABLE, PARTICULARLY AT THE PRICES WE SEE TODAY.

AND COFFEE?

THE REGIONS WHERE WE GROW COFFEE ARE SEEING A HUGE LACK OF RAIN AND RAIN AT UNPREDICTABLE TIMES.

COFFEE TREES REQUIRE AN ACT AMOUNT OF RAIN.

WE'RE SEEING HUGE DECLINES IN COFFEE PRODUCTION ACROSS THE GLOBE.

SO WHAT IS THE NATURE CONSERVANCY DOING ABOUT ALL THIS, BESIDES GETTING THE WORD OUT?

AND WHAT CAN WE DO?

THE NATURE CONSERVANCY TAKES A TWO-PRONGED APPROACH.

ONE, WE RECOGNIZE THAT THE CHANGES ARE ALREADY HAPPENING.

SO WE'RE TRYING TO HELP PEOPLE AND NATURE ADAPT TO THE CHANGES AROUND THE WORLD, INCLUDING, OF COURSE, FARMERS.

AS WE TRY TO IMPROVE SOIL HEALTH, IMPROVE WATER USE, EVEN GROW CACAO TREES IN A MORE SUSTAINABLE WAY.

AND WE'RE ALSO TRYING TO MITIGATE EVEN MORE CATASTROPHIC IMPACTS FROM HAPPENING, WHETHER IT'S THROUGH SEQUESTERING CARBON AND FORESTS OR WORKING WITH THE NEW YORK STATE GOVERNMENT WHICH YOU ALREADY MENTIONED ON RENEWABLE ENERGY, MAKING SURE THAT OUR ELECTRICITY COMES FROM WIND OR SUN.

AS FOR WHAT WE CAN DO AT HOME, LOTS OF THINGS.

THERE IS BILLIONS OF PEOPLE ON THE PLANET.

IF WE CAN MOTIVE EVERYBODY TO USE LOW EFFICIENCY LIGHT BULBS FOR EXAMPLE, YOU CAN HAVE A HUGE IMPACT.

BUT AS CONCERNS FOOD, FOOD WASTE.

WE WASTE SO MUCH GOOD.

AND THAT'S ONE OF THE BIGGEST CONTRIBUTORS TO GREENHOUSE GASES.

AND ONE OF THE EASIEST THINGS WE CAN DO TO HELP ELIMINATE SOME OF THE EMISSIONS WE SEE AT HOME.

NECESSITY BEING THE MOTHER OF INVENTION, THERE ARE THOSE WHO SAY LISTEN, THIS IS ALL TRUE, BUT THIS THE PAST WE'VE CREATED TECHNOLOGY THAT RESOLVED THE PROBLEMS.

WILL TECHNOLOGY RESOLVE THIS PROBLEM?

I HAVE A TON OF FAITH IN HUMANITY AND OUR INTELLIGENCE, AND I THINK WE CAN SOLVE THIS PROBLEM.

I DON'T THINK A TECHNOLOGY SOLUTION WILL SOLVE THE PROBLEM SINCE WE'RE ALREADY SEEING IMPACTS TODAY.

AGAIN, WE TALKED ABOUT HOW HOT IT'S BEEN AND HOW MUCH HOTTER IT'S GETTING.

WE'RE ALREADY SEEING IMPACTS THAT WE CANNOT FIX RIGHT NOW.

BUT I DO THINK THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY CAN COME TOGETHER AND FIND THE SOLUTION TO THIS AND MAKE SURE THAT WE HAVE GOOD HEALTHY FOOD, CLEAN WATER, CLEAN AIR, AND ALL THE THINGS WE RELY ON TO LIVE HEALTHY LIVES.

ALL RIGHT, BECCA.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

> WHEN SCIENTISTS TALK ABOUT THE IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE, RISING SEA LEVELS USUALLY TOPS THE LIST.

ACCORDING TO ANALYSIS BY THE NONPROFIT GROUP UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS, INCREASED COASTAL FLOODING AS A RESULT OF THESE RISING SEA LEVELS WILL DECIMATE COASTAL PROPERTY VALUES AROUND THE COUNTRY, POTENTIALLY TRIGGERING A SLOW MOTION ECONOMIC CRISIS THAT WILL HIT OUR REGION ESPECIALLY HARD.

OVER THE NEXT 30 YEARS, RISING SEA LEVELS ARE PROJECTED TO PUT HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF HOMES AND COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES IN THE U.S. AT RISK OF CHRONIC FLOODING.

THE REPORT WARNS THAT THE INCREASED FLOODING AND THE IMPACT IT'S EXPECTED TO HAVE ON PROPERTY VALUES COULD LEAD TO A WIDER ECONOMIC CRASH IN COASTAL MUNICIPALITIES DUE TO THE LOSS OF TAX REVENUE.

AND JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT ALL THIS IS CHRISTINA DAHL, ONE OF THE CLIMATE SCIENTISTS BEHIND THE REPORT.

CHRISTINA.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

SO CHRISTINA, WHAT EXACTLY DID YOU LOOK AT IN YOUR STUDY?

I KNOW I MENTIONED BRIEFLY, BUT WHAT EXACTLY DID YOU LOOK AND WHAT DID YOU FIND?

SURE.

WE'VE KNOWN FOR A LONG TIME THAT SEA LEVELS PRESENTS A HUGE CHALLENGE TO OUR COASTAL COMMUNITIES.

BUT THE NEAR TERM THREAT TO COASTAL PROPERTIES HAS BEEN FLYING UNDER THE RADAR.

WHAT WE DID IN THIS STUDY IS WE COMBINED PROPERTY DATE FA FROM ZILLOW, THE ONLINE REAL ESTATE COMPANY WITH AN ANALYSIS WE DID THAT MAPS OUT THE AREAS THAT WOULD EXPERIENCE WHAT WE CALL CHRONIC INUNDATION, WHICH IS FLOODING THAT HAPPENS AT HIGH TIDE ON AVERAGE EVERY OTHER WEEK AS SEA LEVEL RISES.

SO BY COMBINING THOSE AREAS THAT WILL FACE THIS TYPE OF FLOODING WITH THE PROPERTY DATA FROM ZILLOW, WE WERE ABLE TO QUANTIFY THE NUMBER OF HOMES THAT ARE RISK FROM SEA LEVEL RISK AND HIGH TIDE FLOODING AND THE VALUE OF THOSE PROPERTIES AND THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO THE PROPERTY TAX BASE AS WELL.

SO WHAT WE FOUND IS IN THE RELATIVELY NEAR TERM, JUST THE NEXT 30 YEARS OR SO, THE LIFETIME OF THE MORTGAGE, THERE OVER 300,000 HOMES IN THE LOWER 48 THAT ARE AT RISK OF THIS CHRONIC FLOODING.

BY THE END OF THE CENTURY, THE NUMBER RISES TO ABOUT 2.5 MILLION HOMES AND BUSINESSES THAT TODAY ARE WORTH ABOUT A TRILLION DOLLARS.

SO IS THIS RISK FROM FLOODING BEING REFLECTED IN THE CURRENT PROPERTY ASSESSMENTS OF THE REAL ESTATE OF THE COASTLINE?

BY AND LARGE, THE ANSWER IS NO.

WE DO SEE SOME ISOLATED REAL ESTATE MARKETS WHERE THIS RISK OF FLOODING IS STARTING TO GET BAKED INTO THE MARKET PERCEPTION AND THE REAL ESTATE MARKET.

BUT THERE ARE A LOT OF INCENTIVES AND POLICIES THAT ARE PREVENTING THIS FROM FULLY BEING REFLECTED IN REAL ESTATE MARKETS.

SO WHAT ARE THE AREAS?

WHAT ARE THE STATES MOST AT RISK OF THIS PHYSICAL AND ECONOMIC DAMAGE?

SO FAR AND AWAY, FLORIDA AND NEW JERSEY ARE THE TWO STATE AT RISK IN THE NEXT 30 YEARS.

EACH OF THOSE STATES HAS ABOUT 60,000 HOMES AT RISK BY THE YEAR 2045.

TODAY THOSE HOMES IN EACH STATE ARE WORTH ABOUT $26 BILLION.

WHAT ABOUT THE COASTAL AREAS AROUND NEW YORK?

ABSOLUTELY.

SO NEW YORK IN THE 2045 TIME FRAME HAS ABOUT 15,000 HOMES AT RISK.

ALMOST ALL OF THOSE ARE ALONG THE SOUTHERN SHORE OF LONG ISLAND.

SO PLAY IT OUT FOR US, CHRISTINA.

IF NOTHING OR NOTHING MUCH IS DONE ABOUT THIS, WHAT WILL IT LOOK LIKE AND CHRONIC FLOODING HAPPENS AND PROPERTY VALUES FALL, WHAT FOLLOWS?

WELL, WE FEEL THAT SOME SORT OF MARKET CORRECTION IS INEVITABLE.

AND WHETHER THAT HAPPENS QUICKLY AND IS A SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM OR MORE GRADUALLY REMAINS TO BE SCENE.

BUT AS THE RISK OF FLOODING STARTS TO BE REFLECTED IN PROPERTY VALUES ALONG THE COAST, WE EXPECT TO SEE PROPERTIES BECOMING -- COASTAL PROPERTIES BECOMING LESS VALUABLE.

AND AS THEY DO SO, THAT INFLUENCES THE AMOUNT OF -- AMOUNT THAT THEY CONTRIBUTE TO THE LOCAL TAX BASE.

IT WILL REVERBERATE THROUGHOUT THE ECONOMY.

LISTEN, WE ONLY HAVE A MINUTE LEFT.

I HAVE TO ASK YOU WHAT, DO WE DO?

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE TO AVOID THIS?

WELL, THERE IS A LOT THAT WE CAN DO.

FIRST AND FOREMOST, WE NEED TO BE WORKING ON CUTTING OUR CARBON EMISSION.

THE MORE WE CAN LIMIT THE LONG-TERM RISKS TO SEA LEVEL RISE, THE BETTER OFF WAY WILL BE AND THE MORE HOMES WE WILL BE ABLE TO SPARE FROM THIS EFFECT.

BUT WE ALSO NEED TO BE PREPARING FOR THE CHANGES AHEAD BY HELPING TO REORIENT OUR POLICIES AND OUR MARKET INCENTIVES TO BETTER REFLECT THIS RISK.

AND QUICKLY, WILL WE INEVITABLY HAVE TO MOVE AWAY FROM THE COASTLINES OF -- THAT ARE IN DANGER?

FOR SOME COMMUNITIES, RETREATING FROM THE COAST MAY UNFORTUNATELY BE THE BEST OF BAD OPTIONS.

BUT THE TIME IS TO PREPARE NOW AND START TO DEVELOP SOME FRAMEWORKS THAT COMMUNITIES CAN USE TO START THINKING ABOUT THEIR OPTION, WHETHER THAT OPTION IS RETREAT OR DEFENSE, BUILDING A SEAWALL, OR ACCOMMODATING THE RISING WATERS BY OPENING UP SPACE ALONG THE COAST.

WE NEED TO BE HELPING COMMUNITIES TO EXPLORE THOSE OPTIONS AND ULTIMATELY TO FUND THEM AS WELL.

ALL RIGHT.

CHRISTINA, THAT'S ALL THE TIME WE HAVE.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US TODAY TO TALK ABOUT THIS.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS ABOUT US ALL, OUR FAMILIES, OUR COMMUNITIES AND OUR VIBRANT AND EVER CHANGING CITY.

WE INVITE YOU TO SHARE YOUR STILLS OR VIDEOS, ANYTHING THAT CAPTURES THE MAGIC, THE INSPIRATION, THE ROMANCE, THE ENERGY OF THE METRO AREA.

SHARE YOUR MEMORIES AND VIEWS WITH OTHER VIEWERS.

THE ADDRESS IS PH PHOTOS @METROFOCUS.ORG.

TODAY IS EARTH DAY, AND THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE BIRTH OF THE MODERN DAY MOVEMENT.

TODAY WE'RE LOOKING AT ONE OF NEW YORK CITY'S SMELLIEST TREASURES.

NEW YORKERS HAVE COME TO THINK OF THE GOWANUS CANAL AS THAT BODY OF WATER IN BROOKLYN THAT HAS BEEN STINKING UP THE BOROUGH FOR AS LONG AS THEY CAN REMEMBER.

WHAT THEY PROBABLY DON'T KNOW ARE SOME OF THE REASONS FOR THAT OBNOXIOUS ODOR.

COCKTAIL OF RAW SEWAGE, BODIES DUMPED BY THE MOB AND EVEN A SICK WHALE NAMED SLUDGY HAS HELPED NAME THE GOWANUS AS ONE OF THE COUNTRY'S DIRTIEST BODIES OF WATER.

BUT THERE IS A HISTORY ROOTED IN THE HISTORY OF THE REVOLUTIONARY AREA.

AU .

WHAT IF THERE WAS NO GOWANUS CREEK, NO BOGGY BARRIER BLOCKING THE BRITISH?

IS IT SO PRESUMPTUOUS TO SUGGEST THAT IF THERE WAS NO GOWANUS CREEK WE MIGHT HAVE BEEN DIVIDED AND CONQUERED.

HISTORIANS MAY BE INFURIATED BY THE QUESTION, BUT IS IT SO, SO RIDICULOUS TO SUGGEST WITHOUT THE GOWANUS CREEK, THERE WOULD BE NO AMERICA?

IN HIS BOOK, 'GOWANUS: BROOKLYN'S CURIOUS CANAL,' ALEXIOU ALSO SCORES THE EVOLUTION FROM A CREEK TO A MODERN DAY ROLE IN MAKING THE BOROUGH A HOT PLACE TO LIVE.

JENNA FLANAGAN SAT DOWN WITH ALEXIOU AND ASKED WHAT SPARKED HIS INTEREST IN THE GOWANUS.

WELL, I USED TO LIVE NEAR THE GOWANUS CANAL BACK IN 2006.

AND AROUND ABOUT A YEAR AFTER I MOVED INTO THAT NEIGHBORHOOD, THERE WAS A MASSIVE STORM, AND AFTER THE STORM, A BABY WHALE SWAM RIGHT INTO THE MOUTH OF THE CANAL, AND IT BECAME A BIG NATIONAL STORY.

AND I LEARNED AT THAT POINT THAT THE CANAL WAS VERY POLLUTED, AND THE CONFLUENCE OF THIS BABY WHALE, THE GREAT POLLUTION REALLY MADE ME WONDER HOW DID IT GET THIS WAY?

SO I ONCE I STARTED ASKING THAT QUESTION, THE ANSWER BECAME MORE AND MORE COMPLICATED UNTIL I THOUGHT I'VE GOT WRITE A WHOLE BOOK ABOUT THIS.

WELL, TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HOW DID IT GET THAT WAY?

WELL, THE CANAL BECAME AS POLLUTED AS IT DID THROUGH WHAT I LIKE TO CALL PROGRESS, BUT THERE ARE TWO THINGS THAT HAPPENED.

THE FIRST IS THAT WE -- THE CITY OF BROOKLYN, IN BUILDING ITS FIRST SEWER SYSTEMS IN THE 1850s CONNECTED SOME OF THE OUTFALLS OR SOME OF THE EMERGENCY SEWER EXITS DIRECTLY TO THE GOWANUS CREEK AS IT WAS BEING CONSTRUCTED.

AND THIS WAS BECAUSE OF THE MASSIVE RAIN STORMS WE GET IN NEW YORK.

SO ESSENTIALLY, OUR SEWERS ARE DIRECTLY CONNECTED TO THE GOWANUS CANAL.

AND EVERY TIME IT RAINS, RAW SEWAGE WILL FLOW INTO THERE.

THE OTHER WAY IT BECAME EXTREMELY POLLUTED IS THROUGH THE MANY INDUSTRIES THAT POPPED UP AROUND THE CANAL, ESPECIALLY MANUFACTURED GAS, WHICH CAME FROM COAL GASIFICATION.

AND WHEN YOU CAN TAKE COAL, ONE OF THE BY-PRODUCTIOUS GET WHEN YOU GASIFY IT'S IS COAL TAR.

INCREDIBLY POLLUTING AND TOXIC MATERIAL THAT THEY DUMPED SOMETIMES DIRECTLY INTO THE GROUND OR INTO THE WATER.

AND THOSE TWO THINGS TOGETHER MADE IT RATHER POLLUTED.

WOW.

WAS ANYBODY IN CHARGE OF THE GOWANUS CANAL?

YOU KNOW, THERE WERE BODIES PRIVATE BUSINESSMEN THAT WENT TOWARDS THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE CANAL, AND THERE WERE SOME CITY GROUPS THAT WERE INVOLVED IN REGULATING IT.

BUT THE TRUTH WAS IT WAS NEVER OVERLOOKED BY ONE GOVERNMENTAL BODY OR ONE PRIVATE GROUP.

SO IT WAS KIND OF EVERY LANDOWNER HAD THEIR LITTLE SECTION, AND THAT IS WHERE SOME OF THE JURISDICTION CAME FROM.

ALL RIGHT.

SO MOST PEOPLE IN BROOKLYN WHO PROBABLY SAY IT JUST STINKS.

BUT IT ACTUALLY DID PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN BROOKLYN BECOMING BROOKLYN.

OH, ABSOLUTELY.

WELL, WE COULD START ALL THE BAYWAY BACK IN THE REVOLUTION, IF YOU LIKE, WHEN IT WAS PART OF AN IMPORTANT KEY BATTLE IN THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR.

IT ESSENTIALLY ACTED AS A NATURAL BUFFER BETWEEN THE BRITISH AND THE AMERICAN FORCES DUR A KEY REALLY LONG AND PRO EXTRACTED ATTACK AGAINST AMERICA.

BUT IN THE 19th CENTURY, IT WAS DIRECTLY RELATED TO BROOKLYN'S COMMERCIAL GROWTH AS AN INDUSTRIAL -- AS AN INDUSTRIAL CITY.

BECAUSE THE CANAL WAS THERE, THEY WERE ABLE TO HAVE PLENTY OF WATERFRONT SITES FOR BUILDING MATERIALS, FOR LUMBERYARDS, COAL YARDS, FOR BRICK YARDS, AND BUSINESSES LIKE CEMENT PLANTS AND OTHER KINDS OF CHEMISTRIES WERE ABLE TO POP UP ALONG THE CANAL BECAUSE OF THE EASY ACCESS FOR RAW MATERIALS TO THE PLACES WHERE FACTORIES WERE BEING BUILT.

THIS WAS IN THE CENTER OF THE GROWING CITY OF BROOKLYN, AND IT CREATED THOUSANDS OF JOBS AND HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS WORTH OF COMMERCE RIGHT IN THE CENTER OF THIS GROWING INDUSTRIAL CITY THAT RIVALED NEW YORK IN ITS SIZE.

SO REALLY QUICKLY, THE GOWANUS CANAL WAS OF COURSE NAMED A SUPERFUND SITE.

IS IT TOO MUCH OF A SUPER MESS FOR THE SUPERFUND SITE AND WILL WE EVER BE ABLE TO SWIM IN IT?

GOSH, I DON'T KNOW IF SWIMMING IN THE CANAL WILL EVER BE SOMETHING WE SHOULD DO.

SOME PEOPLE HAVE SWUM IN IT.

I WOULDN'T DO IT.

BUT IT WILL TAKE A LONG TIME FOR THEM TO CLEAN UP TO THE CANAL BEFORE THEY'LL BE ABLE TO CLEAN UP THE CANAL TO THE POINT THAT IT IS ALMOST SWIMMABLE.

IN OTHER WORDS, THERE WILL STILL BE RAW SEWAGE THAT FLOWS INTO IT, JUST MUCH LESS THAT FLOWS INTO IT NOW.

UNTIL THERE IS NO RAW SEWAGE FLOWING INTO IT, I PROBABLY WON'T SWIM THERE, AND IT MAY BE A VERY LONG TIME BEFORE WE CAN STOP ALL THE RAW SEWAGE FLOWING INTO IT ENTIRELY.

OKAY.

WELL, I WON'T BE SWIMMING IN IT.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US AND TELLING US ALL ABOUT THE G.E. CANAL.

MY PLEASURE.

AND THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

> BEFORE WE LET YOU GO TONIGHT, LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT A WONDERFUL EXTENSION TO 'METROFOCUS.'

OUR NEW TWICE WEEKLY PODCAST WITH ME AND YOUR HOST.

ON IT, WE'LL GET TO EXPLORE IN-DEPTH CONVERSATIONS THAT ARE A LITTLE LESS FILTERED THAN THEY ARE IN TELEVISION AND A LOT MORE INTIMATE.

ON THE PODCAST, I'LL TALK TO AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SET OF GUESTS WITH AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT ATTITUDE.

THE PRICE OF JOINING THIS PODCAST COMPLETE WITH NEW YORKERS FROM THE STREETS TO CITY HALL AND FROM WALL STREET TO BROADWAY?

ABSOLUTELY FREE.

HEAD ON OVER TO iTUNES OR SOUNDCLOUD TO JOIN ME IN THIS ECLECTIC MIX OF PERSONALITIES AS WE EXPLORE OUR CITY WITH A UNIQUE 'METROFOCUS.'

FRESH NEW CONTENT EVERY TUESDAY AND THURSDAY.

I'LL SEE YOU THERE.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY -- ♪ ♪

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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