Lawmakers on Tuesday heard dire predictions of rising sea levels, hotter temperatures and more severe storms from scientists who say New York must do more to respond to a changing climate.
Columbia University climate scientist Radley Horton told a state Senate panel that the state must take significant steps to reduce its exposure to the threats posed by global climate change. Those steps include reducing carbon emissions and preparing for the impacts on agriculture, waterfront development and public health.
"We are vulnerable today; we're going to become more vulnerable," Horton told the panel. The lawmakers also heard from environmental advocates and residents affected by storm flooding.
Tuesday's meeting came after Senate Leader John Flanagan, R-Long Island, said last week that this winter's cold temperatures and snow prompted him to question whether climate change is occurring. Following Tuesday's hearing the group Environmental Advocates of New York delivered packets to Flanagan's office detailing the scientific evidence supporting the theory that human activity is causing climate change.
Flanagan did not respond to a request for comment.
Projections discussed at Tuesday's hearing suggest sea levels will rise by at least a few feet as the planet warms, creating hazards for waterfront properties and increasing the risk of floods during severe storms. In addition, scientists told the lawmakers that New York can expect warmer temperatures that threaten crops and more significant storms that could overwhelm municipal sewer systems.
"The science is sound, and the necessary course of action is clear," said Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of the group.