We are in the fourth post-Sandy day here in New York City, and I think it is safe to say we’re short on transportation services and long on NYC pride. Much of mine is directed towards our mayor.
I’ve always appreciated the increase in bike lanes under the Bloomberg Administration, and I actually support the soda ban, but I’ve just now started to feel a deep affection for Mayor Bloomberg. Here’s how it happened…
At my apartment in Brooklyn, we’ve been lucky enough to have power throughout the storm. The city pretty much came to a halt on Tuesday and Wednesday, without any subway service, and is just starting to pick back up again. Yet, portions of the city are still reeling, particularly coastal areas in the outer boroughs, and lower Manhattan remains without power.
During those few days, I watched more NY1 than I previously would have thought possible. Accordingly, I’ve seen each of Mayor Bloomberg’s press conferences and have grown to really admire how he has handled the storm. He was cautious but not alarmist prior to the storm, and in the days since he has been calm but incredibly diligent in keeping New Yorkers up to speed.
So, I was already a fan as Mayor Bloomberg worked his way through the Wednesday afternoon briefing. He informed us of the emergency food supply locations and what they would provide. He explained to us why the Nets v. Knicks game had been cancelled. He reminded us to stay out of the parks until they were deemed safe, but said he’d make every effort to open them this weekend so kids could enjoy the crisp fall weather. I really felt that he was dealing with the seriousness of the storm, but that he also understood New Yorkers wanted to get back to living. Then after the briefing, which seemed to leave no stone unturned, he open the floor to questions. I can’t remember what question prompted it, but right there on the TV in my living room Mayor Bloomberg started talking about increases in extreme weather, climate change, positive feedback loops, and the precautionary principle.
What Mayor Bloomberg, and all New Yorkers, have seen is that climate change puts more pressure on our already stressed infrastructure, increases danger from existing pollution, and threatens the very things that make New York so great.
Sandy was devastating in certain areas of New York, and caused many deaths here and abroad, but it also offers a chance. A chance to lower our carbon emissions and mitigate climate change, but also a chance to adapt and increase our resiliency against climate impacts that we are now facing, and will continue to face.
So let's all follow Mayor Bloomberg’s lead and be pragmatic and forward-thinking in our response to Sandy and climate change. We need to start now to build resiliency in our transit system and in our power grid -- Sandy made that very clear.
Other recent extreme weather events, like Irene last year and the drought this year, make clear that we need resiliency in our food systems as well. This means diversity, in crop species and geography. It also means encouraging growing practices that work with natural systems by building soil health and quantity. Food is at the center of all our lives and as any New Yorker forced to take the bus-bridge from Downtown Brooklyn can now tell you, we should be careful not to take the most basic things for granted.
As Bill McKibben wrote yesterday, “We’ve been given a warning by science, and a wake-up call by nature; it is up to us now to heed them.”
At NRDC NY, we are working to a build a sustainable and climate resilient food system here in New York. Find out more by visiting our website, and join the conversation by following us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.