Venice is sinking and with global warming making itself more prominent, The New York Times has created this interactive map showcasing what North America's coastal areas will look like underwater.
And yet, opines James Atlas, despite the overwhelming evidence that "New York City will sink beneath the sea", if "we cant imagine our own deaths, as Freud insisted, how can we be expected to imagine the death of a city?"
Contemplating our ephemerality can be a profound experience. To wander the once magnificent Roman cities strung along the Lycian coast of Turkey now largely reduced to rubble, much still unexcavated is to realize how extensive, how magisterial this civilization was. Whole cities are underwater; you can snorkel over them and read inscriptions carved into ancient monoliths. Ephesus, pop. 300,000 in the second century A.D., is a vast necropolis. The amphitheater that accommodated nearly 25,000 people sits empty. The Temple of Artemis, said to have been four times larger than the Parthenon, is a handful of slender columns.
YET we return home from our travels intoxicated by beauty, not truth. It doesnt occur to us that we, too, will one day be described in a guidebook (Fodors North America 2212?) as metropolitans who resided in 60-story towers and traveled beneath the waves in metal-sheathed trains.
Its this willed ignorance, I suspect, that explains why its difficult to process the implications of climate change for New York, even in the face of explicit warnings from politicians, not the most future-oriented people. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has been courageous to make global warming a subject of public debate, but will taxpayers support his proposal to build a levee in New York Harbor? Wouldnt it be easier to think of Sandy as a once in a lifetime storm? Even as Lower Manhattan continues to bail itself out this time in the literal sense One World Trade Center rises, floor by floor. The governor notes that we have a 100-year flood every two years now, which doesnt stop rents from going up in Battery Park City.
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