The $119 Billion Sea Wall That Could Defend New York … or Not

A six-mile-long barrier would help protect the city from floodwaters during fierce storms like Sandy, but critics say rising seas make the option inadequate.

Comments: 216

  1. First they should build a dike. Then they should find a little Dutch boy. And maybe a fiddler as well, to keep us entertained.

  2. @GSL Or, wall up the first floor of all lower lying buildings, raise utility/sewer lines as appropriate, let the streets and avenues become canals like Vienna.

  3. @GSL I think we already have Nero in the White House fiddling away.

  4. @cynicalskeptic If only he had any musical talent.

  5. We’ve already destabilized around 6 meters of sea level rise equivalent of ice from the marine sectors of Greenland and West Antarctica’s ice sheets. A large fraction of that is likely to arrive within 100 years. Those hundreds of billions of dollars are wasted on a sea wall and should be put towards moving a doomed city.

  6. As I previously said, climate scientists using modeling at Lawrence Livermore National Labs said over three years ago the models show ocean levels rising by 200’ during the next 1000 years. If true, all coastal populations will need to relocate. And it’s unfortunate that the information never made the national news.

  7. @Diane Do you have a link for that claim? The paper linked to below indicates we'd need to burn all the known fossil fuel reserves to raise sea level 200'. Combustion of available fossil fuel resources sufficient to eliminate the Antarctic Ice Sheet

  8. This will be a stopgap solution at best, but will, perhaps, give the city some time before the inundation that deniers in office are guaranteeing at the present time. Even with a swift about-face by government and transition to renewables will only slow a vast rise in sea to Triassic levels. A little wall (in geologic terms) won't hold back the tide for long. Be it an ocean tide or a human one. Only good policy can mitigate it. When the bankers see it as cost-effective they will direct the funds accordingly. Blackrock saw the light. Who's next?

  9. I don't think we taxpayers should be funding the hubris of climate deniers.

  10. This is science fiction stuff. Might as well budget for a giant dome to cover the city as well. Until we get people to get serious on climate change (including the head denier in the Offal Office), our grandchildren are in for a dangerous and dismal future.

  11. @Scott Montgomery I will not likely be around to see it (I am 58), but much of the coastal US will be profoundly changed and there will have to be a relocation of a not-insignificant portion of our population out of the way. That is not just people but hellishly expensive infrastructure like refineries, ports, airports, rail lines, highways, bridges, sewage treatment, etc. The people who will need to move inland are going to need the supporting infrastructure and that takes lots of time, money and planning. You are not just going to relocate millions of people to other places lacking the ability to deal with the influx of population. Imagine having to relocate much of the population of multiple coastal cities inland to places that are not ready for it. Water, sanitation, food supply, transport, housing and all kinds of other things will be woefully inadequate.

  12. @David Gregory : If you want to relocate in a more carbon-efficient way, don't move the airports! One thing that is utterly painfully clear is that we need to slash carbon output, and flying is just not sustainable from a carbon point of view. Go back 60 years in history, almost no one was flying. Travel was a lot more local and regional. And people were living pretty good lives. We've made a lot of progress since then. For all of our 21st century problems, it was better to be a woman, an immigrant, and/or a person of color in 2015 compared to 1955. But materially, most people in the U.S. and Europe in the 1950s were leading totally decent modern lives without needing to fly on vacation or fly to conferences or whatever.

  13. It is not science fiction. Come to the Netherlands.

  14. Over three years ago, a friend of mine who is a scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Labs, told me that their modeling (they also use modeling at LLNL to maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile) showed that due to climate change our oceans will rise 200’ over the next 1000 years. I don’t believe any barrier nor any sea wall will be able to protect a coastal cities from that level of rise. I noticed that these findings failed to end up in the national news.

  15. @Diane Humans will be long extinct by then.

  16. I don’t see any single solution being effective... the topography is so varied that one barrier failing would jeopardize the entire system, nullifying it’s reason for existence. Not to mention the fact that New York is not good at effectively or quickly completing any construction projects... the 70s -80s you had one debacle after another like the 63rd street tunnel and the never ending BQE repair project... even today it has taken more than ten years to complete a small stretch of the Kew Gardens Interchange... I doubt whatever timeline a barrier would be projected to be completed by, would ever remotely be met. And as always the first consideration would be to the wealthiest residents, at the detriment of the regular citizens. It might be a jaded point of view, but New York City is not the kind of place where massive public works projects can be effectively or reasonably implemented, so even if a grand solution was arrived at, it would probably take many decades to complete.

  17. Admittedly arm-chairing here. To be effective the gates would have to swing or roll closely along the sea/bay floor. Doesn't matter how tall, if water could rush in along the bottom. The environmental damage to the littoral floor would be immense. (The article also notes how water could "ricochet" along the wall to flood other areas. As every homeowner knows, waters seeks its lowest level.) Better to gradually retreat from flood prone areas, built up barrier islands and limit permanent structures on such islands. Begin by buyout the most-flood prone homeowners. Who knows, Pearl NY may become the new NYC in 75 years, the old Vovo headquarters a new U.N. bldg...

  18. As an hydraulic engineer, I can say with confidence that a large part of the problem is related to the fact that the solutions are not political, are actually scientific and based on hydraulic principles and expertise, tied to social considerations (i.e. very complex in nature). Those solutions might go partially against some of the more environmentally friendly propositions. Don't get me wrong, I believe on climate change and I would never vote Republican, but I have seen first hand in California how people believe that green legislation is the solution to everything, as if the water will follow the law and not the laws of physics. For example, we have spent billions of dollars in San Diego for stormwater cleaning and improvement, and we will spent billions more, and improvements have been negligible at best. Nothing positive will happen as an optimal scientific / stochastic approach with the allowable resources has not being followed. People don't want engineers or scientist to tell them the best option, they want someone that matches their preconceived ideas to take care of the problem. Since lawyers have taken over engineering and science (but not over how the water flows) I am not optimistic that an optimal solution will be ever found.

  19. @LAP Curious from your experience what solutions might go against environmentally friendly propositions? Leaving Dem. vs. GOP bickering aside, I think the whole basis for the more progressive wing of the Dem. Party pushing the Green New Deal is the realization that the solutions will need to be big, bold, unfortunately expensive. Like FDR's New Deal, these solutions will require agencies that don't exist yet, and will need geotechnical/civil engineers and architects in federal positions that don't exist yet. Urban planning and infrastructure design will need to be re-thought of in a way and at a scale that the government doesn't currently understand. I think understanding that this all needs space (and funding) within the federal government to be carved out is half the battle. You're right in that these little measures here and there, signed piecemeal by whatever governor of whatever state happens to be in power, doesn't put much of a dent into the national response to this crisis. However, while the Green New Deal doesn't "have all the answers" (something opponents say as a knock in an effort to have it ALL scrapped), it's the only thing I've seen understands the sheer scope and size of federal funding and framework that will be necessary to get us the answers and implement the fixes. I think setting these agencies up, funding them so that they can hire the best and brightest, will go a long way in steering things away from a politicized response.

  20. @Marc you may recall the NYC "Green Infrastructure Plan" for reducing combined sewer overflows to the surrounding water a few years back. The genius of the plan was in its name: the majority of the capital went into large-scale constructed solutions, but GI was included, and naming it a green plan helped grease the skids for approval.

  21. @Marc Most examples I can think of are too technical to discuss in detail here, but I will try: environmental legislation in California prohibits the design of BMPs (pollutant control ponds, proprietary systems or similar) in the Waters of the US, while that is precisely the place where most of them should be, because pollutants are already concentrated where the water is flowing, and with limited resources and the necessity of large improvements in water quality, centralized BMPs are required. People are obsessed with feel-good-do-nothing-solutions like rain barrels at home, LID facilities distributed all over the streets with no maintenance in plan, etc, that at best produce minimal results and at worse create unexpected flooding problems. I could go on and on, but basically legislation is written in such a way that billions of dollars are used for marginal improvements preferred by permits because the centralized systems that can make a difference are prohibited. Similar issues occur in terms of hydromodification control via erroneous science and improper analysis of data, given to us by the power of legislators that do not understand the physics of the problem they want to solve, and therefore legislate absurd solutions that are not aligned with the complexity of the natural phenomena they are trying to control. I am sure experts in other fields can provide other examples that align with the logic of my explanation.

  22. Where is the ounce of prevention in this plan? Reducing carbon emissions TODAY will have more impact than inefficient spending of trillions over 25 years on a systems that may or may not protect 0.0001% of the earth's population from human-induced climate change. Lead by example. Ban internal combustion engines in NYC now!

  23. @mhood8, We're way past the point where mitigation alone is adequate. Even if we stopped all CO2 emissions today, the planet would continue warming for decades as the "extra" CO2 slowly leaves the atmosphere. That's not even considering feedbacks like methane from melting (im)permafrost and climate-accelerated wildfires. We need to decarbonize *and* prepare for the coming costs of society's decades of delay in addressing this.

  24. @Rich To mhood8: Too late, my friend ..... too late

  25. @mhood8 Obviously the climate is global so what 1 city does, even a large one, does not matter that much. NYC creates a lot more CO2 via heating than transport since electric trains trains are used by millions and distances are generally close. I have seen many NYC buildings and they are awfully inefficient- poorly controlled and woefully under-insulated. Taxis in NYC are already all hybrids but unfortunately there's no regulation of Uber/Lyft.

  26. I had 5 ft of water in my home for 13 days in Uptown New Orleans near Tulane after Katrina. It was in large measure thanks to levees designed by the Army Corps of Engineers that failed by breaking apart, not being over topped. Good luck to NYC if it’s going to rely on the folks at Corps to solve their inevitable flooding problem. It’s not a question of if, but when.

  27. @winthropo muchacho To be fair to the Corps of Engineers, they were told to build a system and given a fraction of what they wanted and had to build an inferior system. The Vietnam War was in part responsible for what happened in New Orleans. After Betsy, promises were made and the Corps of Engineers was never given what they needed to make it right. I f I give $5000 to Porsche and tell them to build me a car, it will not look like anything on the lot at your local dealer. These big projects take lots of money over many years and budget priorities change with each election. That should be a warning to those pushing this project.

  28. @winthropo muchacho New Orleans is a bowl that is below sea level. It has been collecting local taxes by levee boards for decades, which were used to build recreational facilities instead of reinforcing flood protection. It's an easy call for the Big Easy residents to blame the federal government for the local mismanagement. It was a big mistake to allow rebuilding in the ninth ward after Katrina, but the Corps was pressured into reinstating the old flood plane maps as if the levees will never again be breached. But the Democrats running the city did not want the population declines to become permanent. One of the levies was damaged by having a barge bump into it during the storm. The majority of the failures were the result of overtopping of the levees. Once there was water on both sides of a levee, it failed.

  29. @David Gregory Designing pilings for the NOLA levees with only 40 ft of depth instead of 150 has nothing to do with funding and all to do with bad engineering

  30. $119B. This sort of thing will be good for protecting our crumbling infrastructure. I read recently that about 80% of bridges in the US are in need of repair, not to mention regular surface roads, public transport needs, energy grid upgrades, and city water infrastructure that dates back to the late 19th century in some places.

  31. @Mford Imagine a world where democrats participated in the governing process instead of staging a political show with the Trump impeachment to pacify their radical base. If everyone worked together an infrastructure bill could happen...but it takes both sides working together.

  32. @Tom I seem to recall the republicans having complete control of the government for a couple of years and doing nothing about the infrastructure. But go ahead, blame Democrats. That reminds me, when are we going to get that great, beautiful, cheaper health care plan?

  33. Has the president released his infrastructure bill yet? Still waiting.

  34. Sea levels at The Battery, NYC, are carefully measured since 1855. The official data is kept by NOAA. The seas (the blue wiggly line) measured directly, with a simple floater, rose at about 1ft/century in Lincoln's time, SAME 1ft/century now. Entirely unaffected by a 1000 time rise in emissions, or any of the things you heard about. Why would sea levels start to rise 10 or 100 times faster, like, say, next week, while they showed no acceleration whatsoever so far is the question. In models, NYC is submerged already... Your salary could also get 100 times bigger, to tens of millions a year, anytime now, but why did it show no sign of happening so far?

  35. @novoad At the current acceleration of ice sheet mass loss of 44Gt/y2 we get 78cm of sea level rise by 2100 from that source alone. Throw in 20-30cm more for alpine glaciers and thermal expansion and we’re already on pace for a meter by then. No matter what we do we’re likely to get a lot more due to the inherent instability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

  36. It’s different in some locations the water being affected by tides and salinity the New York coast is slightly less affected in the short term. However the fresh inland water is backing up against heavier salt water making bays and intracoastal waters somewhat higher.

  37. @novoad Note that the measurements are RELATIVE sea level increases of less than one foot over the course of 100 years. What is not reflected in the one foot change over a century is to what extent the land sank over that time period, which is likely a larger component of the one foot change than sea level changes. The King Tide flooding in Miami is overwhelmingly caused by subsidence, not increases in the sea level. the same is true of the coast of Long Island.

  38. $119 billion dollar wall to stop water from flooding NYC for 10 years, or $300 billion to make the changes necessary to stop our rising global temperatures by 2025? I can't help but be disheartened by how ineffective our leadership is at tackling this problem. People have laid out plans for decades on how to stop climate change once and for all, and instead here we are arguing over details about who should benefit from these patchy, short-term, ad-hoc solutions.

  39. Globally it will cost trillions to mitigate climate change, NYC is the center of global commerce... a 300billion investment is quite affordable in that context.

  40. @Al Exactly correct. Our "leadership's" primary objective as always is funneling public money into the hands of their patrons, not doing what scientists or other unimportant (to them) do-gooders think should be done.

  41. @Al : Just as we are taught, with some surprise, that there once was a land bridge between Alaska and Siberia and another between the British Isles and Continental Europe, students ( if any humans are left) may someday be taught that there once were cities along the US seaboard that account for those crumbling objects that protrude from the sea some distance offshore. That, i fear, is the more likely prospect.

  42. Let the waters come in. Canal street was once a canal. Manhattan the new Venice? Gondolas and vaporetti to serve the ever-rising high rises with Fresh Direct and FedEx.

  43. @Valentine Fresh Direct and FedEx are part of the problem, not part of the solution. We've gotten lazy, and have let marketing and instant gratification take over our lives. Living with water is a good idea, but ignoring the massive disruption with more extremes and rising seas is self-indulgence carried way too far.

  44. It's been more than seven years since Sandy. Given that almost nothing has been done in the interim, I thought everyone had stopped making plans and had reached a tacit understanding to pretend nothing bad will ever happen again. I'm glad to be surprised. A barrier might be a good idea. But in the long run, much of New York will have to be reconfigured and/or abandoned once sea levels rise far enough. I would suggest that people start preparing. Here's a good first step: If you grew up in the suburbs, move back. Now.

  45. The worst wouldn't be a major city being wiped out by a strong storm. The worst would be if we spent billions of dollars on a coastal defense, then build a lot of expensive infrastructure behind it, in the mistaken impression we can hold back the ocean. “Today, we’re struggling with 3 millimeters [0.1 inch] per year [of sea level rise],” says Robert DeConto at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, co-author of one of the more sobering new studies. “We’re talking about centimeters per year. That’s really tough. At that point your engineering can’t keep up; you’re down to demolition and rebuilding.” From a 2016 paper regarding a numerical ice sheet model which doubled our assessment of potential sea level rise under business-as-usual (BAU) emissions over the next century. 1 “Incorporating these mechanisms in our ice-sheet model accelerates the expected collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to decadal time scales, and also causes retreat into major East Antarctic subglacial basins”

  46. And the water that gets blocked by that 6 mile barrier goes where? Long Island and the Jersey Shore, increasing surge (and damage) in those areas.

  47. @Celeste and where does all of the Hudson River water flowing towards the ocean go when the gates are closed? I guess that we could just turn it off up past Albany until the storm is over.

  48. Good luck NYC! You will need it, sea level rise will be higher than projected.

  49. Whoo, hoo! One day I'll have ocean front property and can walk to the beach.

  50. @fFinbar longer sailing season too.

  51. Great, our whole coastal landscape will start looking like BladeRunner 2049 because we couldn't find the will to deal with Global Warming. If you watch that movie there are massive seawalls several stories high the separate the Los Angeles Metro area on the coast from the ocean. How many of these will be built around the world and how much would it cost us to just buckle down and deal with climate change? I guess this is the taxpayer provided option, this Sea-Wall Gate system so the rich can keep cause climate change and never pay for it.

  52. @Clearwater Migration to higher ground is the logical solution. During 2016-2030, China alone is adding more CO2 to the atmosphere than mankind has added since the inception of the industrial revolution. If the US, EU and other industrialized democracies were to stop burning fossil fuels today, the manmade additions will be higher in 2030. Whatever is going to happen in coastal US areas is going to happen regardless of any actions we can take, short of nuking the third world. Coastal cities with crumbling infrastructure need to reduce their populations to sustainable levels and move critical functions to other parts of the country.

  53. Why is this so expensive? The delta works in the Netherlands cost 10x less than this.

  54. @S Because massive infrastructure projects are site specific.

  55. @S According to a long, detailed article in the NYT, it cost NYC seven times as much per mile to extend a subway line as a comparable project in Paris, France. NYC is famous for corruption, fraud, poor contract management, shifting public funds to personal use of politicians, making payments to unions and "community activists" in response to threatened violence. In Boston, the Big Dig [a massive road/tunnel project to clean up congestion] wound up costing seven times the initial estimate. Twelve years after completion, the concrete in the tunnel is spalling because of inferior materials used and/or poor design and construction. That was after ten years of planning followed by ten years of construction. There are some things that the American government does very well. After a California earthquake, a collapsed bridge was replaced under budget and ahead of schedule with an earthquake resilient bridge. Big infrastructure projects with large federal financial contributions are not one of the things that get done efficiently. Too many hands reaching into the pot of gold.

  56. @S Different time, different place!

  57. yes please. do everything possible to protect our coast and do it as soon as possible. so many people live there, including my son and grandson.

  58. How about putting money towards an advertising campaign, constantly reminding people who will be wiped-out by rising waters over the next fifty years, that they should be aware of the risk and move out if they're concerned. If they choose to stay, then it's on them.

  59. @KC. Very near where you live, on the coast, federal flood insurance helps the wealthy to keep building McMansions in flood zones. This program has populated the East coast with vacation and luxury homes all the way to Florida. It badly needs rewriting to protect necessary shore business and a few people who need to be there. Goes far beyond crazy.

  60. @KC During primitive times, people were intelligent enough to move to higher ground when flooding occurred. Holland is a sovereign nation, most of which is below sea level, has always been and is sinking. The Dutch are therefore willing to spend money to protect themselves because they don't have enough higher ground to which to relocate. They have to either make other sacrifices or reduce their population to a sustainable number through outmigration. It is entertaining that NY, NYC and NJ have gotten together and decided they will pay 35% of the cost of their scheme and the federal taxpayer will pick up the other 65% in order to protect real estate values in NYC. Guess again. In 1800, coastal areas grew populous because of logistical and communication issues. There is no longer a need for the financial capital of the world, or the media capital of the world, or the fashion capital of America to be located in Manhattan. Move to higher ground. The same thing is true of New Orleans and Houston. Figure out the sustainable population, move people and functions elsewhere and convert the freed up land to spillways. Turn them into parks, water tolerant forests or holding ponds to capture the storm surges and high tides. Much of Long Island, which includes Queens and Kings [Brooklyn] Counties, are build on wetlands that were filled in and are sinking. People should migrate to higher ground.

  61. A multinational company was considering renting office space on the south tip of Manhattan. Asking the realtor about flooding, they told the company to worry not. When that happens, the markets will you won’t be the only one affected.

  62. The Houston-Galveston area is facing the same conundrum, though at lower cost ($30B). My prediction is that after honest cost-benefit analyses are completed, the smaller, less grandiose, cheaper, and less environmentally obtrusive onshore options will also prove to be the most effective.

  63. Coastal cities the world over are struggling with minimal sea rise in mild adverse conditions. When sea rises change the nature of the sea, migration is the only answer. NYC is doomed. To think that man made measures can compete with global inclement weather is just so pie-in-the-sky thinking. Sandy devastated NY. When multiple Sandys hit as part of a 'normal' season - then let the crying begin.

  64. @NDV Don't worry we are building an ark.

  65. Take a look at the sci-fi series "The Expanse" to see a realistic vision of what New York looks like in the future with giant walls protecting Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

  66. There’s nothing controversial or mysterious here. It’s about designing for the worst case - not the best one.

  67. The NY area can’t get together 11 billion to replace a hundred year old rail tunnel. Don’t expect Congress to fund this. And if they did, it would take 50 years to build. Of course that would keep a couple generations of union bosses and politicians in cigars.

  68. Such a barrier would need to be much higher than currently anticipated because the water has no where to go. All the water that would have flood into the harbor will now be diverted towards the Rocakaways and NJ shore. The Rockaway and Sandy Hook penninsulas would also need barriers all along them. Where does this end? We need a graceful and strategic retreat from low-lying areas. Some areas might benefit from temporary protection, but moving to higher ground should be our primary approach. Also, do you remember that article in the The Times a couple months ago "How Scientists Got Climate Change So Wrong"? It wasn't the scientists. It was the media and politicians who have been calling scientists alarmists. Yes, James Hansen is alarmist. He'a also usually right.

  69. It's a $120 billion dollar bandaid that doesn't address the real problem, which is removing the climate deniers from office.

  70. @John Reynolds The real problem is 7.7 billion people and counting on the planet. How do you remove at least 50% of them from the planet?

  71. @Fernando Thank you for stating the most obvious cause of climate change - massive overpopulation. When combined with all those people striving for 1st world lifestyles akin to what we have in the US, all global solutions are going to be for naught. Every nation is going to be on its own. As seen by the photos of the massive infrastructure already built or being built, these are solutions that only developed economies can afford. So, the 50% reduction to global population will happen to those countries that are most vulnerable but most need it. Read - Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The Americas and Europe - as long as we keep hordes of immigrants at bay - will be fine.

  72. New York City can be the new Atlantis. What’s not to like?

  73. @Marat1784 I can't wait, mermaids and sea unicorns.

  74. As a resident of the area where the unlabelled sandy strip in New jersey is, I have to ask who is going to be included in this wall? Those outside of the wall will most likely have increased flooding from the effect of the wall. Does the plan include additional features to mitigate flooding along the Bayshore region and coastal regions of New Jersey?

  75. @Stephen Spang, the effect of a barrier on unprotected areas outside the barrier is minimal -- water levels 3 or 4 inches higher than otherwise.

  76. Maybe. Tht’s a lot of money. We know tht nature easily overwhelms most anything built by us - walls, etc.

  77. I have never been able to understand where all the money comes from to pay for the stuff our government pays (charges) for now. The astronomical debt of the US may make all the debate about how to protect the entire coastline a waste of time.

  78. @Kevin Phillips It comes from taxes Kevin. Increasingly from taxes on working people. It needs to shift more toward rich and rich corporations so we can do stuff like save the most amazing city on the planet. Think about this Kevin, we have 19 aircraft carriers, the rest of the world all together has 12, Russia 1 and China 1. It costs about 13 billion to build a new aircraft carrier in the USA.. We have 186 F-22 Raptor stealth jets, each cost 350 million which comes to 65 billion. Add in god knows how much for upkeep and operation and staffing and you kind of get where the money goes. So yeah build the break water, save the city and cut the military budget by 10%.

  79. @Kevin Phillips not a problem, your fed just keeps printing more money. It's all in the oil.

  80. @greg Thanks I understand the taxes and stuff. I am not so sure that cutting the military budget by 10% (which I think is a worthwhile idea) would come close to solving the finances. It would just help shift the debt. I think we need to actually pay for the stuff first. You know, they are taking money from the military budget for that wall down there. Maybe it is the financial model of the future.

  81. Why do you think rich conservatives are buying thousands of acres in western states and installing guards and electronic surveillance? Climate change may be preceded disturbances like man made earthquakes, meteorological terrorism, and eco-terrorism. Some people are already planning their retreat and it does not include taking in others.

  82. @PMD : With all the recurring droughts and wildfires in the west, I wonder how that's going to work out for them. People of all political persuasions need to realize that nowhere is truly safe.

  83. @PMD and you can bet that the locals aren't going to take in others with open arms, either. Climate change is going to make our current political unrest look like a love fest. I have strong doubts that our democracy can hold all this together.

  84. No amount of money will stop this. What will stop permafrost thaw, which may release the amount of carbon already in the atmosphere? Nothing on earth can stop it. Considering food production accounts for 25% of human caused GHG, what amount of money can mitigate that? Major automobile companies keep right on making huge trucks and SUVs, and people keep right on buying them, by the tens of millions in this country alone. How much money will it take to change that attitude? I know a number of couples who are self-proclaimed environmentalists who have expressed their intent to have kids, despite knowing that this is ultimately the root of the problem. No amount of money will ever change their minds. Meanwhile, a substantial portion of the earth's population is certain this is a totally contrived issue with no basis in reality, and the internet gives them a voice to reach millions. What are we doing about that? These are problems imbedded in our culture which money and storm-surge barriers cannot solve.

  85. @joel strayer : The problem is that they are having "kids" in the plural. Two, three, four kids. One or none. Those are the only environmentally sound solutions. People who still want kids will be fine with just one.

  86. A more practical, less costly and easier barrier solution would be to put up a barrier under the Bayonne and Veranzano bridges. The lower shorelines outside the barriers should be left to go back to nature. Yeah, residents in these areas are going to scream foul, but, these areas were traditionally flood plains. The smaller barriers would protect more infrastructure at less cost per capita. More important, these inner harbor barriers could probably be erected in 1/10 the time (not to mention presenting far less exposure to a failure being only about a mile long vs six).

  87. The best way to protect New York, and other threatened cities, is to vote Democratic in November.

  88. This will not save us. We need real climate action — carbon taxes or credits trading + caps, plus making our cities more resilient to flooding with wetlands, marshes, green roofs and other natural defenses that absorb both water and the runoff the destroys the health of aquatic ecosystems. Concrete is one of the things that has gotten us into this mess. More of it will not get us out.

  89. @L : This: "Concrete is one of the things that has gotten us into this mess. More of it will not get us out." Thank you!

  90. The Corps estimates the wall to cost $119 billion, and it is unclear if the city, New York State, New Jersey and Congress will agree to jointly fund the project, which would take 25 years to build" With the gridlock in this country, a more realistic timeline is 50 years.

  91. If the barrier options are risky, then constructing less costly and “less massive” solutions would certainly be money down the drain. Onshore solutions are not enough. The Delta Works plan enacted in the Netherlands after the devastating North Sea flood of 1953 (2,551 total [1,836 in NL] dead, 10% of farmland flooded, 30k animals drowned, €63 million in damages) have served NL well. I don’t see how the Army Corps of Engineers’ design would not take flooding into account. Just talk to the Dutch on the other side of the Atlantic. The proposed NYC solution of $119 billion is considerably more than the €4 billion (some estimates are as high as €12 billion) spent by the Netherlands on the Delta Works flood defenses (construction started in the 1960s and completed in 1998). And it would require a Marshall Plan type of (budgetary) effort. But if NYC and Wall Street, and the economy in the greater NYC area, are not worth spending $119 billion to protect, what is?

  92. Wall Street and every other enterprise can move out of NYC; many have left London so why would anyone want to build an incredibily expensive sea wall that may or may not work? There is nothing stopping almost anyone from moving out of harm's way and those with insufficient funds can have their moves subsidized .

  93. Let’s wait and see what happens to the sea wall in Venice. Not finished, vastly over budget and now (even though not yet finished) seemed inadequate to the task. It’s a big mess in Venice why would it work here?

  94. @Lilly LaRue Agreed. It won’t. The reality, sad or otherwise, is that in 100 years Lower Manhattan, much of Boston, and all of Miami Beach will be underwater. Time to move inland, to higher ground, while that’s still an affordable option.

  95. @Northwoods Cynic : I think we've got a lot less than 100 years.

  96. @Lilly LaRue The project in Venice is already 9 years behind schedule and still at least 2 years from completion. One can only guess what the much larger NY project would look like in 10 years.

  97. California, for better or worse, has recognized that artificial barriers simply displace water to unprotected and less affluent communities. So they have initiated a coastal retreat policy for homeowners - abandoning their homes to the ocean - as the most “ecologically sound” approach. One wonders why the “Green New Deal” leadership of NYC won’t embrace similar progressive solutions.

  98. @LTJ Retreating from Manhattan isn't exactly the same as retreating from the block closest the ocean. It's almost like the geography of NYC and that of California are vastly different.

  99. @LTJ Yes, here in coastal California we're seeing sea level rise inch by inch, and state, county, and city engineers are talking in terms of "managed retreat". Sea walls are a non-starter, because storm surge waves bounce off them and wash the sand off the beaches. So the solutions are hybrid in design (nearshore artificial reefs, rock-lined slopes, and the like).

  100. The chances of the current administration providing $65B to fund anything for Blue States are about the same as my winning Powerball three consecutive times. So full stop right there, regardless of the purpose. Remember the infamous line "We believe infrastructure should be funded by the people who will benefit by it"???

  101. @The View From Downriver : Someone should tell that to the red staters who get more money from the federal government than they pay into the system, mainly in the form of "infrastructure projects" and "government welfare" (healthcare subsidies, medicare and medicaid, food stamps, disability, etc.).

  102. "“These sea gates will not be able to protect communities from flooding caused by rising tides and rising sea levels, and once they’re built, that’s it,” said Scott M. Stringer, the New York City comptroller, who in a recent letter to the Corps urged them to reshape the plans, calling the barrier options risky. “We’re not going to get the money again.”" The fossil industry pays people to promote the idea that we just adapt to climate change, not mitigate the overall amount of change by eliminating fossil fuel use. So remember that the money NYC would be fighting for for this project would compete with required funding for the cities on both ends of the barrier, because storm surge would simply be pushed to them. All the other cities up and down our coastlines and rivers will be pushing for protection money, too. Not just for barriers, either. There will be disaster relief funds, rebuilding (whether the area should be rebuilt or not) and funding to deal with crop damages, wildfires, dwindling streamflow from mountain snowpack. There will be state and local tax increases, too, like the half a billion Miami Beach raised to elevate roads and install pumps (raising the sewer systems might be six times as costly). Long-term severity of the damages is directly tied to how much more fossil fuels are burned. Without mitigating the problem, trying to adapt will be an endless, expensive cycle of building, rebuilding, retreating and dealing with more issues.

  103. @New World - and that's my point. Every waterfront protection will simply shift where water goes, not stop the underlying changes in sea level or the intensity of rainfall events. So defense will be needed. Repairs and retreat will be needed. But all that will be a repetitive process as long as we keep increasing greenhouse levels. It's in everyone's interest to get that accomplished sooner rather than later, and those most at risk should be pushing hardest. I don't particularly care for Florida, but many do. Those people should be pushing very hard for ending fossil fuel use. Those who don't are simply setting up a future where Floridinians won't be just inconvenienced, they'll be migrants to other states.

  104. I'm all for "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure", but let's be smart about this. $119 billion to prevent a rare (let's say once in 25 years) event that could cost $62 billion is probably not the best allocation of resources. How about using that money for the major overhaul of the subway system (~$40 billion estimate) that is badly needed. NYC's infrastructure used to be a wonder of the world. Now it's embarrassing. Let's tackle the more tangible issues with cheaper solutions. Moreover, traffic-related infrastructure spending should be a lower-hanging fruit politically.

  105. All of this is irrelevant if the main tunnel carrying water to New York City ruptures. Its replacement keeps getting delayed year after year and mayor after mayor because of high costs. It is old and deteriorating. If it breaks, there will be no access to fresh water for the entire city. Mayor Bloomberg said it was the one thing that kept him up at night. Maybe we need to revisit our priorities.

  106. Those just beyond the length of the walls will complain that they also matter. Much more than estimated will need to be spent to make everyone happy.

  107. It’s only costing Germany half that—$45 billion—to close its coal-fired power plants and mitigate the effects on workers. That’s what’s we should be spending our money on.

  108. What about the billions spent for the pipeline under the Baltic to bring natural gas to Germany? I am getting mixed messages from their investments.

  109. Natives thought the same ,they traded a useless swamp for a string of sea shell beads and considered it a good deal.Settlers and developers filled in the tidal swamp with rock for nearly four centuries and the Atlantic ocean continues to do what it always will do. Now we have spent a thousand times or more than the hundreds of billions needed to fix the flood in NYC, on dry land in Iraq and that is a proven complete failure.Somewhere down the line ,somebody is going to run out of money and then it may be too late.

  110. Ultimately, this is going to be futile, as rising sea levels invariably will inundate NYC in the future. The only way to fix the problem is by addressing climate change right now. But I guess the reason is that the people who make the decisions today will be dead by the time the deluge is coming in earnest. 'After me the deluge' has never been more fitting in a literal sense than today.

  111. Paul Galway layered approach sounds like the way to go. If one big wall fails, that’s it. All involved really do need to come together and move with deliberate speed. There’s next to no time left to get going on this. I love the City. Lived there for nearly 30 years. Would hate to see it become uninhabitable.

  112. @Peter "Would hate to see it become uninhabitable."...hate it or not, it will,,,

  113. A closer examination of the approaches taken by the people and government of Netherland shows that the Oosterscheldekering is only a small part of a much more holistic approach to dealing with a centuries old problem of "living with water". Whether flooding barriers are built on-shore or sea walls are built off-shore neither will be effective solutions unless a much broader approach to deal holistically with climate change is undertaken. The NY Times has published on the "living with water" approach taken in the Netherlands several times including this 2017 article - I suggest those interested in dealing more effectively with this problem take a more careful look at the enlightened approach of the Dutch to "letting the water in and living with it."

  114. The real costs of climate change are making themselves known to anyone paying attention. The real dollars states and the US will spend just on disaster recovery will be staggering. Some states will not be able to recover without massive federal aid. And with our criminal, unchecked president, those recovery funds will only be sent to those states who praise him.

  115. The cheapest and most effective method for dealing with sea level rise is retreat. That should be at the center of any strategy. It should be kept in mind that it is likely that the sea level rise will continue for at least several hundred years and will probably eventually rise at least 20 feet and more likely if efforts to stem global warming continue to falter it will most likely reach 40 to 60 feet or even higher depending on how successful efforts are to reduce emissions. It is unlikely there is any long-term engineering solution if a drastic reduction in emissions is not carried out during the first half of this century. Retreat from the coast to higher ground should be a main focus of the dialog not building extremely expensive barriers that will cause a number of serious problems and eventually be obsolete.

  116. The Netherlands had no option but to build anything that might work because other than invading their inland neighbors they have to make do with what they have. USA on the other hand does have the option of rebuilding on higher ground. If any of these drastic predictions of our blossoming waterworld bears out ( which I assume will happen but at what moment I'm unsure), things will move inland, with or without massive attempts to hold back water molecules. The real decisions will be when and if this contingency is to be considered and appropriately addressed. Within what ..50 miles inland ? the terrain high enough to plan and live for a 1000 years? You simply cannot have a modern city build of the materials we build with subject to water lapping and immersing the underpinnings. Some intelligent reader noted in the discussion of the falling Chinese birthrate that is is lockstep with the degree of climate change. Add to the above a contracting population if we were to discourage people flocking here from elsewhere due to their countries failed status and their own enviormental catastrophes , humanity might squeak by. I don't know those odds.

  117. Discourage people flocking here when the US is one of the principal causes of the problem (climate change denial and high historic and current emissions)? What is the moral justification for that? The more so when the US is not even an indigenous population settled on the land mass for many generations but just the offspring of previous generations of immigrants and land grabbers who came in the past 3 centuries only.

  118. @David so I totally get your point. But while any simile is problematic , what comes to mind is an elevator. Only so many people can get on and then it's full, I guess unless their is is a healthcare emergency, a direct police type accommodation, or some kind of boots on the ground removal of those already on the elevator changing who actually takes the ride. So we are discussing issues such as actually relocating a gigantic population center and somehow you have trouble visualizing that elevator? Ok I too want a solution requiring no elevator! I hope beyond hope that we fix the problem so that this whole conversation is forever moot.

  119. $119B ??? With typical public project cost overruns we're really looking at at least $150B. Imagine ALL THE GOOD you could do with that kind of money in Schools, Health Care, Homelessness etc.

  120. A portion of the Bay bridge had to be rebuilt after the 1989 earthquake. It took 25 years and cost 5x the estimate. New York's 2nd Avenue subway station took even longer to get built. I wouldn't hold my breath on this as an option. Bu the time it gets built it is more likely than not to be underwater. We are in a climate crisis and its about time we face up to it and use our resources to mitigate the damage to our planet and its sentinet beings, not "saving" a lowlying island without knowing the extent of damage we have caused and at the expense of the whole of living beings on this planet.

  121. Mother nature is undefeated, but some people are still in denial. Only option may be a mass coastal retreat in 50 years.

  122. @M Some of us have made the move while coastal property values are still quite high. Surprisingly, it's resulted in an improvement in the quality of life in addition to protecting assets.

  123. The Dutch have been fighting the sea for millennia. They have the best water management engineers and tested systems in place. I suggest follow their advice, and not the Army Corps of Engineers, who in fact dismissed Dutch insights after Katrina.

  124. During the 1970's, after OPEC doubled and tripled the price of crude oil, the industry boomed in the oil patch. The population in East Baton Rouge Parish grew. By the early 1980's, the municipal sewage system was stressed, not having been expanded as fast as demand had grown. The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources informed the city and parish that unless they fixed the system, the State would prohibit them from issuing building permits for new housing construction. After a couple of months of gnashing of teeth about the overbearing State, a modest user sewer user fee was added to the monthly water bills, revenue bonds were issued, and the sewage system was built out. How is it possible that 30 years later, NYC continues to dump a million gallons per year of raw sewage into the waters of America? It is now begging the federal government to pay for 50% of its mass transit infrastructure and 65% of its sea wall that is going to trap their sewage within NYC. The NYS Department of Natural Resources and the EPA need to tell NYC to fix their infrastructure or stop issuing construction permits. Granted, it's a day late, but any federal contribution to NYC infrastructure should be limited to 20% loans. If the backward southerners were able to fund infrastructure with no federal contribution when the bottom fell out of the oil industry in 1981, the clever NYers should be able to fix their own problems.

  125. There is no silver bullet. Coping with flood risk requires multiple solutions implemented in parallel with each other. Although it is tempting to say “retreat” is the only answer, retreat offers no answers to where current and future residents should live. If you are lucky enough to live in areas of the City or Region that are not directly in the flood plain (upper west side and Park Slope, Chappaqua, Essex Fells NJ: I’m looking at you) it would be helpful if you took responsibility for the historic patterns of segregation and exclusion that people people in vulnerable locations and instead dedicate your community commenting energy to making room for the physical growth required to house those of us who do live with flood vulnerability, and all of the sewer treatment, waste, and power facility required to maintain our collective existence. If you are someone who has ever complained about the “shadows” or “strained resources” caused by a new apartment building or homeless shelter, this is time to rethink your role in the climate crisis.

  126. The $119 Billion Sea Wall That Could Defend New York … or Not. From a life ending danger that is coming ... or not. Unless the sea rises 20-30 feet this wall could protect us, or be blight when the sea rises ... an inch. The current prediction is 0.1 mm per year (0.01 inch). 25 years is .25 mm., thus a 20-30 feet wall to protect us from 0.01 inches of sea raise seems more than over kill. If this is meant to protect from hurricanes and tsunamis, then you must be joking, those cannot be stopped. Then again that price tag? DeBlasio just announced a bare bones budget as the city is copying with paying with all the free things he promised and then underdelivered, are we seriously going to add near 42B for this? Get out of here.

  127. Take the money that would be spent on a barrier/dike and relocate all the people out of NYC inland to higher ground & what will be the new coast line. Those who want to stay in their super high highrise towers can pay for whatever they want as they are no longer paying income taxes proportionate to the needs of society/infrastructure. But whatever you do, learn and listen from the Mayor of Venice Italy. Denial is very wet. And Good Luck NYC

  128. “We’d essentially be sitting in a bathtub of our own excrement,” ...said Kimberly Ong, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council commenting on rainfall scenarios when storm water and sewage system could back up and push waste into waterways and could trap that sludge closer to shore with the barrier in place. You're not hear a better quote than that.

  129. @Socrates Sounds as though they should move somewhere else.

  130. All Hot Air in my opinion. Have you ever seen the condition of the East Side River on the Manhattan side. It's not maintained and large portions of the old walkway and piers have been falling into the river for sometime now. In front of the Mayor's home......the walkway has been closed because it fall into the Water. So people are talking about a $119B dollar improvement while they cannot manage what they have now? Amazing level of City, State and Federal incompetence.

  131. @Steve Very true. An example of this mega-dollar waste is the approach being taken on Staten Island to address what happened during hurricanes. Instead of taking the inexpensive approach put forth by the Staten Island Borough President in the early 1950s (that would have been in place when Sandy hit if they built it), they are now building the boondoggle that follows: This March, the last bit of bureaucratic red tape was cleared away for the construction of an enormous 5.3-mile long barrier that will stretch from Fort Wadsworth to Oakwood Beach. The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is now planning to break ground on this $615 million project in 2020, and expects it to be finished in approximately four years. Officially known as the South Shore of Staten Island Coastal Storm Risk Management Project, the USACE’s barrier is staggering in scope. It will include a 4.3-mile seawall with a public promenade built on top, one mile of levees and floodwalls, and more than 180 acres of newly excavated stormwater detention ponds. The project encompasses an area with over 30,000 residents and 7,300 structures, and will protect some of the coastal neighborhoods that suffered the worst damage during Hurricane Sandy, including Arrochar, South Beach, Ocean Breeze, Graham Beach, Midland Beach, New Dorp Beach, and Oakwood Beach

  132. @Steve The biggest incompetence was in allowing businesses and residents in these vulnerable areas to re-build and move back in to coastal and low lying areas. If after every storm, the government exercised eminent domain to take destroyed and damaged structures, we could eventually restore the natural barriers to flooding - all while making our shorelines accessible to the greatest number of people. This may not solve the entirety of the rising sea level issue, but it certainly would go a long way.

  133. Call me crazy, but wouldn't restoring marsh land, which are natural tidal barriers, and water filters be cheaper than this? Nature has always worked in this fashion. Wouldn't we be wise to emulate the wisdom born of millions of years?

  134. A six mile gate shuts, blocking the ocean... meanwhile the Hudson River keeps flowing in from behind. Nope, back to the drawing board.

  135. The right wants and embraces climate change for the very reason that it will flood New York City.

  136. Can we send the bill to Donald Trump, his extended family, cronies, the oil and coal industry and whoever else is responsible for climate change? Taxpayers should revolt and decline to have to foot the bill for this.

  137. The solution is educating all people that the world cannot sustain 8 billion people. Period. But by voluntarily having 0, 1 or 2 children we can bring the quantity of humans on earth down to a sustainable level whereby each human can enjoy the high consumption we all like and not destroy the planet. Goal 2 billion people. Scientific schemes alone WILL FAIL. Only the truth can save us.

  138. @JAR Finally - someone has mentioned the elephant in the room.

  139. I’ve managed to zero out and avoid reproducing, myself, but that’s neither here nor there. The total number of babies in the world peaked in 2018 and is no longer increasing. Population growth is now a function of almost everyone living longer, so if population is the perceived elephant in your room, abstinence from procreation may no longer be a sufficient signal of virtue. For that, you’ll have to start shaving at your own golden years. ‘Cause it ain’t population numbers, it’s what human populations emit that’s cooking the planet. One adult in North America produces more GHG’s than ten babies in Niger. (Not to pick on sub-Saharan Africa, they just happen to still have one of the higher fertility rates, though it’s falling there just like everyplace else.) So, again, if you think population control is the solution to greenhouse warming, better start clipping at the back-end. ;- )

  140. This is so unrealistic why is this even being considered?

  141. One of the most difficult realities of climate change to absorb is the indisputable fact that nature has decided to relocate the coastline 25 miles inland.

  142. I hate being the naysayer, but trying to save New York from the sea is futile. Can New York handle a ten foot sea level rise by the end of the century? The West Antarctic ice sheet is on the verge of collapse and 10 feet is about how much it will contribute. The sad truth is that study after study, climatologists predict worse outcomes. Planning by NOAA's models is far too conservative. We need to be planning for the worst case, and cities can't afford that, then maybe it's time to find higher ground. If we're having what 20th century climatologists called hundred-year storms three to five times per decade, what would a 21st century hundred-year storm look like?

  143. All a sea wall will do is push the water somewhere other than the 6 miles protecting NYC. So NYC will just be moving the flooding around to somewhere else, maybe New Jersey.

  144. @D that doesn’t make sense given the relative scale of the sea versus a mere city

  145. Sounds like throwing good money after bad. But then again, when did that every stop a public works project.

  146. No swinging gate nor anything else can prevent the flooding of New York and New Orleans/Boston/Venice/Florida/Galveston and scores of other coastal/low-lying cities. Except maybe another ice age. Forget the barrier and spend all efforts and money on slowing and then reversing global heating. Otherwise we'll all end up like Australia--drowned and/or burnt to a crisp.

  147. Let's just hire the Dutch to do the full analysis and produce binding recommendations and then hire Dutch companies to build it within the recommended budget. That's the only way to build a system that will work and where the budget will not be mired in systematic corruption.

  148. Build the wall, and make Mr. "created by and for the Chinese" pay for it.

  149. Residents of NY should either move inland or pay to build a wall if they wish. Or move to California. Sea levels there have only risen 9 inches in the last 100 years. You're on the wrong coast!!

  150. @Lindsey E. Reese You're right! Let's all move to Taylorville IL!

  151. @Lindsey E. Reese The GOP and there support of coal caused all this.

  152. We have destroyed our planet and we will pay for it. The only question is when.

  153. It’s just a matter of time when the sucker phrase about having a bridge for sale will be replaced by purchasing beautiful waterfront property in Florida and other low lying areas like NYC. Spending that absurd amount of money to keep water out knowing what we know about global warming is absurd. Water will always find a way in. It created the Grand Canyon!

  154. If you were actually going to build it, it should be half done by now and several feet higher, it’s never going to happen.

  155. Great idea, but one modifications. If the Masters of the Universe on Wall Street want to protect their offices and money making computers, they can pay for it themselves. $119B is about 3 months of bonus for these genius "makers." So let them pay. Or let them drown. Tax payers are fed up bailing out these guys.

  156. No more Federal money for New York. Make the wealthy corporations and the hedge fund owners pay!

  157. May as well keep up the employment numbers as the seas rise, and before both the employed and unemployed are forded retreat inland as the big die-off gets underway. Just sayin'.

  158. The same climate deniers are adding comments in this article and they need to be ashamed of themselves. I am glad there is a plan. Look at Europe i forget the country but it was in the NYT’s they have a sea wall and it is working. Instead of spending billions on a war a wall is well worth it to protect us from flooding.

  159. Nature bats last and she throws a pretty mean knuckleball when on the mound. This is a fool's errand for NYC.

  160. But it’s too expensive to reduce GHG emissions.

  161. Unfortunately, whether a sea wall is unsightly or not is now irrelevant. Complaining about unsightliness is like a man rescued from drowning who is upset there is no caviar on the lifeboat.

  162. Tax coastal living to death like we have with cigarettes and see the problem fade away! That aside, the idea of a giant six mile barrier is awesome without any of the climate change rationalization. Just to imagine where all that ocean water will go when it can't go over the wall is the stuff of sci fi legend!

  163. And.... what kind of barrier will be devised to defend against the rising temperature?

  164. Climate change should be the top priority of our government and focus of our resources and economy. Otherwise, we are just short-sighted lemmings rushing toward an end of all.

  165. Why wasn't something done back in 1970, when the alarm went off about the coming global warming disasters, that will be caused by burning fossil fuels? Perhaps those honchos responsible for 'climate change denial' can be liable for the bill. How about it Australia? California? Puerto Rico? Hurricane victims of Sandy? rising oceans et al A Manhattan/Apollo project, to actually save the earth, should have begun on the first earth day 1970. But money in politics talked louder than science. We live in the age of the imbecile, greedily counting its money while the storms, droughts, fires, that they schemed to allow to happen, rage on and on and .....

  166. Any little kid who ever went to the beach with a shovel and a pail will tell you you’re funny mister. Even if you pile the sand high enough to keep the tide out it only takes one creep to poke a hole and let all the water in. And one thing I’m sure of is New York City has just enough creeps to fit the bill. The rich will find high ground to put their money and the poor will inherit the low ground.

  167. Wall up the first story of all structures, raise the utility/sewer lines appropriately, let the streets and avenues all be canals like Vienna.

  168. A sea wall while our antiquated subway system drops bricks and tiles on our heads.. talk about hypocrisy.

  169. Trump will withhold federal dollars from the project.

  170. @Chris Manjaro Probably not. If he did and I were the mayor of NYC, I would build a channel from the ocean to the basement of Trump Tower so that would be the first place in the city to flood. He would release the funds very quickly after that.

  171. @Chris Manjaro I hope so since it sounds like a boondoggle if there ever was one. Seems like the jury is still out on whether it would actually work.

  172. @Rose See news stories about Dan and Farris Wilks buying Idaho forest land.

  173. @PMD : Not denying it happens. Just marveling at the idea that you can escape climate change by moving to Idaho. It's a desert. It has wildfire. People need to realize that nowhere is safe. Depending on where you live, there will be droughts, floods, hurricanes, sea-level rise, wildfires, ticks and the diseases they carry, extreme heat, polar vortexes. There is not one place that will be free from climate-related disasters. The idea that there is seems to be fostered by the wealthy who can't wrap their heads around the idea that there is now a problem that no amount of wealth will allow them to buy their way out of.

  174. Great idea, let’s make it happen!

  175. @AR Please read Patrick's comment above and then tell us where you will store all that water coming down the Hudson River.

  176. Yup, just like the Wall Street Military Industrial Complex to complain that they need protection from the rising waters they are the cause of. Naturally, to them their Congress is the welfare cash cow. All ideas are ridiculous! The Hudson river flows into New York Harbor. That means any, I mean any sea wall, will only hold in the rising river waters. The multi billion dollar gift to themselves can only be used to stop storm waters, not sea level rise. It is just typical Republican Corporate welfare in the works meant to aid those who caused the problem. Why is the tribal instinct to hold one's territory still stronger than one's intelligence? And those behind these ideas are supposed to be our smartest.

  177. A good portion of the expense should be assigned to owners of property in the huge billionaire towers. After all they have stolen the sky from their neighbors.

  178. @Mike That’s unfair! By virtue of their height above ground they a pretty safe!

  179. How about drilling a few holes into the seafloor so that the water can drain, like from a bathtub? Voila, no more sea level rise, no barrier needed. That's such a simple solution, even DJT could probably think of it.

  180. Y'all just need to move to higher ground.

  181. @Neildsmith Or just deal with the climate crisis now. You're not immume from deep freeze winters or tornados at higher ground.

  182. An ounce of prevention... vote for the political party that takes climate change seriously.

  183. Why does it cost $20,000,000,000 to build a mile of sea wall?

  184. A tangential question, why should six miles of wall cost $119 Billion?

  185. @HSN, great insight! The Corps is just guessing at the cost. Their current estimate is actually $62.5 billion (not $119 billion, a figure from a year ago) and even that may be an overestimate.

  186. @HSN That is the cost of placing all the 737 Max airplanes in the water. NYC or federal government buys the dead metal from Boeing.

  187. How much of this $119 billion will end up in the hands of the 5 families?

  188. Is it economically viable ? NY City-wide market value of fully and partially taxable property $1,149,208.8 million [1] About $ 1 Trillion Of which taxable : $ 208,611.1 million About 200 Billion Total property tax $25,794.1 million About 25 Billion At the current rate of Municipal bonds financing the project over 30 year would require annual payments of about $ 6 Billion, or an increase of the property tax collected by about 18% That is, if you could not get the State or the Feds chip in. Those, however, may think long and hard about it, as it would open the door to demands from other coastal cities - cities typically more wealthy as those in the heartland

  189. I assume this will be paid for with city and NY state funds?

  190. @T Smith Read the article

  191. Just build a carbon tax instead. Much simpler. Much more effective.

  192. So. I dare say it. The entirety of the New York Metropolitan area has to migrate further inland. Start now by building a new New York City upstate and give the current city back to nature. By "giving back to nature" I don't mean back to how it was before the Dutch landed here. Strip it of all the hazardous materials, no need to tear down buildings, bridges and tunnels. Nature will find its way – see Chernobyl. This would take time, decades if not centuries. But that's better than trying to not drown while the seas engulf you. This would also be a golden opportunity to design and build a metropolis following the environmental standards we need to be able to give future generations a livable existence.

  193. The market will gradually drive the important parts of NYC to other places. We do not need another NYC. Organizations that cannot move will close. Sea walls almost never work. The energy redirected by the wall has to go somewhere, forcing another construction to protect that area. If levels get to that point, people will have to move.

  194. @Denis coastal cities considering this will need to override the zoning of adjacent suburban communities. You start.

  195. Based on critiques noted in this article, the larger $119 Billion seawall is obviously not the best solution. Even if it was, there's little chance of federal funding from a government that does not acknowledge climate change and hasn't even been willing to contribute to new train tunnels under the hudson.

  196. Isn't it amazing that people are so bad at math. If each large coastal city could spend $109 billion on a sea wall, wouldn't it be more economically sound to spend 1/10 that much lobbying against fossil fuels and halt sea level rise in the fist place? It's the same myopic argument people make for eating insect based protiens to deal with global starvation rather than create incentives to prevent overpopulation.

  197. I saw this one coming! We will spend billions (trillions?) on walls and barriers and THEN when they are insufficient, (and they will be, eventually), we will spend real money moving all the homes and businesses to higher ground. But of course, we can't be inconvenienced to spend money now, on climate change.

  198. One Hundred and Nineteen Billion ($119B) The Big Dig Bridge Project in Boston was originally scheduled to be completed in 1998 at an estimated cost of $2.8 billion (in 1982 dollars, US$6.0 billion adjusted for inflation as of 2006). However, the project was completed in December 2007 at a cost of over $8.08 billion (in 1982 dollars, $14.6 billion adjusted for inflation, meaning a cost overrun of about 190%). It is estimated that ultimately it will cost $22B. That means that if one applies the same principles of efficiency demonstrated in the Big Dig to the "Sea Wall", it may end up costing, conservatively, $226.1B

  199. @Allen82 And I loved the estimate that it would take 25 years. Right!

  200. Coastal cities are toast and will babble and deny and delay and try to protect their so-called property values until it's far too late (which is probably now). There is a time honored saying for situations like this: "Head for the hills!"

  201. @Craig Millett nice idea. Now - talk to those in enclaves outside the city about rezoning from single family construction to a new business district with sky scrapers. See how receptive they are to moving the city inland.

  202. Not all coastal cities. Ocean levels have risen differently world wide. For example, sea level in Los Angeles has risen only 9 inches in 100 years. Temperatures rise is also variable. Where I live in Illinois, the average temperature has risen only 1 degree since 1890. In most of the central south the average temperature has dropped 1 degree since then. Mother Jones has great map that shows temperature change for each County in the U.S...Most of the temperature rise in the US comes from urban counties and a few other strange places like northern Minnesota and part of Montana. I've seen no explanation as to why climate change is local and not global. Perhaps that's why we don't call it global warming any more..It's really just Urban warming!!

  203. We're talking about the next 80 years as though that's the end of time. By 180 years (2300) sea levels are protected to rise 40-50 feet. Maybe we should plan for that.

  204. @Dan And even that seemingly outlandish 40-50 foot estimate is thought by some of our best minds to be a large underestimate.

  205. @Dan we wont be around (any of us) in 180 years

  206. And, guess what? Construction of such barricades requires the use of fossil fuels. Not very ideal. We better figure this one out and do it quickly.

  207. The important question is whether it could be designed to keep out unwanted immigrants? Add that feature and it will become the priority wall for the second Trump presidency.

  208. The Deltaworks in the Netherlands only cost $5 billion because it is at a natural inlet. The shape of NY harbor is completely different. This would also likely completely change the currents and ecosystem of the harbor and be tied up with environmental challenges until it is obsolete.

  209. There's just something instinctively appealing to some about building an enormous wall to address a complex problem (versus the "layered solutions" alluded to in the final quotation). It's easy for anyone to imagine; it's a big, STEM special-ready engineering achievement; and it has the visible weight of having put time and effort, money and willpower into a project.

  210. I assume that this will be funded by a carbon tax.

  211. I’ve lived in lower Manhattan for 14 years now. Homes and offices of billionaires and mere millionaires. One bedroom apartments are $6000/mo at least. Who benefits from this wall?

  212. Can you say boondoggle and price overrun? Looks to me likely that we will commit tens of Billions for a project that we already know will not work as designed because the COE is greatly underestimating the problem. The cost estimate is likely a 10x or greater underestimate. Sea level rise is accelerating and will be ongoing for centuries, so even places like New York will have to be abandoned.

  213. The New York City seacoast once lay many miles farther east. Native Americans warned New Amsterdam colonists that they were fools to build permanent structures on the water’s edge. The natives knew sea levels has been rising for hundreds years. It stood 4-6 meters above the present during the last interglacial period,125,000 years ago, but was 120 meter lower at the peak of the last ice age, around 20,000 years ago. Sea levels have been rising since the ice started melting 20,000 thousands years ago and will continue to rise until the remaining ice melts or a new ice age intervene.

  214. @William Case In Alaska, literally hundreds of thousands of dollars per resident are being spent to relocate threatened villages. Almost all of those Native villages were originally seasonal hunting and / or trading camps. Then the missionaries arrived and built churches and schools on what had been transitory encampment lands. Now those lands are being swallowed by the sea. Many of the major cities of the world are facing similar problems : Bangkok, Tokyo, New York City, etc. Seawalls cannot protect everything and will divert dollars perhaps better spent on moving inland more cost effectively than is now the case in Alaska. (One of the big problems being that every village expects its own personal 'new village' complete with all the amenities, when a better solution would be a 'hub and 'spoke' configuration with several communities having their own space while sharing the services of the hub.

  215. @irene A seawall might provide more time to evacuate New York City, but the money might be better used to begin evacuating New York City now