Perhaps one of the most obvious yet baffling aspects of climate change is that it continues to take our planet by surprise despite having known about this problem for over 100 years. The earliest discoveries of climate change date back to 1896, when scientists began postulating theories about this natural phenomenon and predicted that our planet’s health would slowly degrade as the human population began to sharply increase. Less than a century later, by 1988, climate change was not only proven to exist but was worsening at an alarming rate, more than anyone had ever anticipated. In June 1988, the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources officially declared climate change a global threat to our planet and humanity. Even 100+ years after it was first observed, the uncertainty of climate change is still prevalent in today’s world and has greatly hindered our ability to accurately predict weather events.
New York City is certainly no stranger to this as the region constantly encounters harsh weather patterns and severe weather outbreaks, events of which the city has never experienced before. This abnormality was seen with Hurricane Ida back in August 2021, when New York City was flooded with over 3 inches of rainfall in less than an hour, which overwhelmed an old sewer system designed to handle half that amount. Overall, 13 people in NYC and another 50 people along the East Coast died as a result of the flooding and the chaotic evacuation plan that left everyone in complete disarray. In the aftermath, outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the National Weather Service had predicted 3 to 6 inches of rain to fall throughout the day, not in just one hour. The National Weather Service failing to immediately respond to criticism and accurately predict weather patterns (especially in the midst of a deadly hurricane) has sparked controversy regarding the reliability of weather forecasts in a world where the climate is ever-changing. Because of this, de Blasio has decided to get a second professional opinion.
In talks with incoming Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul, de Blasio has been discussing the possibility of New York City hiring its own meteorology team to provide more accurate, real-time weather forecasts for the city, a decision that is much-needed. This crucial move would save millions of dollars that would otherwise be spent on storm reparations, save hundreds of lives lost annually from severe weather and help to make New York City a safer place to live. Even with a personal meteorology team for the city, the National Weather Service would still maintain its strong reputation and New Yorkers would feel more assured, especially in times when their lives are in jeopardy. There are inevitable challenges that will come with this decision, but the benefits certainly outweigh the risks. This is just one example of how we are able to control the future of our planet and, more importantly, mitigate the grave impacts of climate change.