Volume 19 Issue 48 | April 13 - 19, 2007

Flood of people to mark Downtown’s predicted flood zone

A “sea” of thousands of people, dressed in blue, is expected to encircle Downtown Manhattan Saturday to show the area that may be submerged if global warming patterns continue.

The event is part of National Day of Climate Action. It is not a protest, said Charles Komanoff, a Tribeca resident who has been an environmental activist for 35 years and helped to coordinate the event. He said, “It is one part march, one part event and one part visual installation.”

Anyone who wants to join the “sea” is instructed to meet on the main lawn of Battery Park at noon, wearing “as much blue as you can handle.” But don’t be scared off if you don’t have anything blue, as Komanoff said there will be blue fabric to spare. Papa Smurf and the Blue Man Group are expected to make appearances.

The event will begin with a rally in Battery Park, with presentations by scientists, environmentalists and youth activists, plus entertainment. There are no politicians slated to speak because, Komanoff said, “There are no publicly elected officials in or representing New York City that have really put together a program or set of proposals to combat global warming.”

[On Monday, Mayor Bloomberg released a city inventory on the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, saying quantifying the problem is the first step to solving it. Seventy-nine percent of the emissions comes from the city’s buildings and the mayor plans to release recommendations on April 22 to reduce the emissions 30 percent by the year 2030.]

After Saturday’s rally, the crowd will be divided in two. Half will head east along Pearl St. and half will head west up Trinity Pl., following as closely as possible the projected 10-foot waterlines that scientists are saying could one day flood Lower Manhattan if nothing is done to reverse global warming trends.

When everyone is in place, giant waves (a.k.a., “the tidal wave of change”) will be sent down the line in both directions.

Meanwhile, participants are encouraged to make all the noise they can to make their presence known, but are also reminded to obey all traffic laws.

Komanoff said the N.Y.P.D. has “been really helpful and proactive in helping us manage the logistics.”

Throughout the event, volunteers will also be passing out postcards to tell legislators to “Step it up, Congress! Cut Carbon 80% by 2050.”

The events were started by a global warming activist group called Step It Up out of Vermont. Step It Up was founded by 23-year-old Bill McKibben, who will speak at Saturday’s rally. The event is one of 1,347 planned for Saturday across the country in all 50 states, with more than a dozen rallies organized in Manhattan alone.

Lower Manhattan is particularly threatened by global warming, according to a study by the Columbia Center for Climate Systems Research, as the occurrence of Category 3 hurricanes is expected to continue to rise. Columbia’s study predicts these storms could one day cause frequent flooding throughout all of Manhattan below Canal St., where many locations lie at 10 feet or less above sea level.

The “sea of people” also represents the long-term possible effects of global warming, which were illustrated in Al Gore’s academy award-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” The film shows all of Lower Manhattan, including the World Trade Center memorial site, submerged in water.

— Brooke Edwards with Josh Rogers

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