One of the best things about the uneven “A.I.” was its startling vision of the future — a vision that showed the effect of global climate change, including a Manhattan mostly underwater.
(The inclusion of the Twin Towers — the movie came out in June 2001 — makes the scene even eerier.)
Two recent articles made me think that the movie’s version of Manhattan, and the rest of the coastal world, is pretty much inescapable.
The first is a huge story in New York magazine, which has been among the publication’s most-viewed stories even with the Roger Ailes-Fox saga dominating the issue. Writer Andrew Rice puts a geophysicist named Klaus Jacob front and center; Jacob, who predicted the effect of a flood event on New York’s subway tunnels and was shown to be on target after Superstorm Sandy, is — if not gleeful — certainly comfortable in his role of Cassandra as he wonders if we’re well past the point of no return:
After Sandy, Mayor Bloomberg pledged to direct some $20 billion in disaster aid into “climate resiliency” measures, such as floodproofing buildings by moving mechanical equipment to upper floors. In areas that were hit hard by the storm, many homeowners have taken advantage of a city program called “Build It Back,” reconstructing their houses high up on stilts. Beneath this defiant civic agenda is an old, blithe assumption that New York is too rich, too important, too tough, to ever give up an inch of real estate. “We still have essentially the gung ho, Wild West way of doing business in this country, where we think we are the master of nature,” Jacob said. “Fighting, building barriers, instead of accommodating the ocean.”
Then there’s this piece in The New York Times about President Obama’s attempts to focus the country on climate change, which has become a major interest of his. In general, he’s had to go it alone — thanks to an intransigent Congress and his own early misreadings of legislative levers and the public mood. At the end of the piece, though, he says he hopes he can have more of an effect as an ex-president:
“My hope,” he said, “is that maybe as ex-president I can have a little more influence on some of my Republican friends, who I think up until now have been resistant to the science.”
But look at the bright side: One day, America’s inland developments might be waterfront property.