Friday, November 30, 2012

Strategies for Resilience in a Post Sandy Era

Tracks of all tropical cyclones in the northern Atlantic Ocean between 1980 and 2005
An insurance company has aired advertisements saying "You didn't choose to be in the path of Sandy..." Sadly for us, this isn't quite true.  We have chosen to live in a known tropical cyclone zone. We have not designed our homes, buildings, subway stations, and subway tunnels to be storm resistant. We have destroyed the original natural storm barriers, namely oyster reefs and salt marsh flats. And despite many warnings, we did not adequately prepare before Sandy struck.

Where are you on the Flood Zone map? Addresses in NYC can be checked on

Climate scientist, Dr. Trenberth, has been  harshly attacked  by climate change deniers for his projection that the risk of harm from severe weather, including hurricanes, would increase. Branding Dr. Trenberth an "alarmist" his critics went further to assert that infrastructure investments to mitigate hurricane damage were unnecessary and a waste of money.

Hopefully our tristate area will listen to Dr. Trenberth and not his critics.

Municipal Initiatives:
Reassess building codes and evacuation zone borders
Determine how best to flood-proof power and transportation networks
Make sure our vulnerable populations, especially those in hospitals and nursing homes, are provided for
Decide how to protect the coast with levees, dunes, natural structures, or a combination
Determine how to fund the many projects that will be needed!

Paying for the infrastructure changes we need will be expensive indeed...however...experts estimate that a dollar spent for prevention will save 4 dollars of damage!  

Permaculture Principle #11 says "use edges and value the marginal"...the interface between two ecosystems can be particularly valuable and productive. I believe that designing with nature instead of waging war with nature will be the best solution. Will our leaders agree?

 Principle 11: Use edges & value the marginal. Proverb: Don’t think you are on the right track just because it’s a well-beaten path.

Individual Initiatives:
We need our trusted friends and family...and they need us. In emergencies, we help each other with places to stay, child care, sharing cars, food, supplies, internet access, and so much more.
It's good to know how things work. How to light a stove or oven when we have gas but not electric. How to flush a toilet without running water. How to compost food and yard waste, even sewage waste... etc.
It's important to stay healthy and fit if possible. We are better off if we can walk, bike, climb stairs, carry heavy stuff, perhaps cut fallen tree limbs, shovel sand...etc.

Above all, being willing to creatively use and respond to change, which is Permaculture Principle #12, will lead to positive results!

 Principle 12: Creatively use & respond to change. Proverb: Vision is not seeing things as they are but as they will be.

Greenies, what would you add to the list?