The Impact of Climate Change in New York State: Coastal cities in particular face flooding and pricey damage

New York City is known for its nightlife, culture, and creativity, but things are also heating up throughout the state – and not in a good way. According to a report by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) on climate change effects and impacts, the state has warmed by 3°F since 1970 and is projected to get another 3°F hotter by 2080.

The heat is damaging to property and the environment, and also harmful to human beings. “Extreme temperatures during summer have a multitude of health effects, including increased incidence of heat stroke, exacerbated heart and lung conditions, higher crime rates, and more premature births,” said Kathleen Biggins, President, and Co-Founder of C-Change Conversations. “Extreme heat also has negative effects on human productivity and economic output.” 

That’s not to mention increased rain and wind storms.

“The frequency and intensity of extreme storm events has increased since 1958,”  John J. Berger, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, The Pacific Institute, and author of Solving the Climate Crisis: Frontline Reports From the Race to Save the Earth wrote via email. “This has led to increased flooding.” Thankfully, city planners recognize the impact of climate change and how it will affect coastal cities, especially New York City.

FIDI (Financial District) and Seaport is dedicated to protecting Lower Manhattan from the effects of climate change. They shared this dire prediction on their website: “By the 2040s, Lower Manhattan’s shoreline will begin to experience frequent tidal flooding from sea level rise, impacting streets, sidewalks, buildings, and critical infrastructure. By the 2050s, this flooding will occur monthly, and, by the 2080s, it will happen every day” causing billions of dollars of damage.

According to a recent report by Economist Jiayi Xu for “In 2024, 8.2% of homes in New York State face severe or extreme flood risk. This represents a total value at risk of approximately $181.2 billion.” As with many things, New York is an indicator of what might be in store for other states and cities.

“The changing climate in New York is a harbinger of wider global environmental shifts,” Biggins said. “The state’s experience offers valuable insights into the challenges and necessary responses to climate change, emphasizing the urgency of collective action and adaptation strategies for a sustainable future.”

Thankfully, New York is already taking action to become a leader in raising climate change awareness and creating initiatives. Last fall, The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) announced more than $29 million awarded to 15 innovative projects that will reduce carbon emissions. A great start for protecting New York from the impact of climate change.