Global Warming: More Than Just Hot Air For The NY Region

June 29, 1999

A report released today by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) details the potential impacts of uncontrolled global warming on the New York metropolitan region. The report, Hot Nights in the City: Global Warming, Sea-Level Rise and the New York Metropolitan Region, projects a major increase in 90 degree-plus days in the summer that can lead to an increase in heat-related mortalities among the region’s most vulnerable populations. In addition, uncontrolled warming can result in significant sea-level rise, which can cause repeated flooding of New York’s roads, subways and airports. Ironically, hotter summers also increase the risk of drought, which means it may become necessary to draw upon the Hudson River for drinking water during shortages.

“The New York region of the future could be flooded with problems if the US doesn’t take action to cut greenhouse gas emissions now,” said Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, EDF chief scientist. “Our children and grandchildren could be faced with 90 degree-plus days nearly all summer long. Heat waves of such persistence and intensity would pose a grave health threat for the very young, the elderly and the impoverished.” In 1995 there were 500 weather-related deaths during a Chicago area heat-wave.

“The New York of tomorrow must be protected by prudent action today. The US Senate should begin to take action addressing this problem, which will impact on New Yorkers and all Americans,” said Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY).

“Coastal areas, including my home on Long Island, already suffer from frequent coastal storm damage, and this report suggests that sea-level rise associated with climate change could only make this problem worse. A number of companies are interested in taking voluntary action to address this issue. We need to encourage those companies and clear out any impediments to their moving forward,” said Congressman Rick Lazio (R-NY).

“The infrastructure that keeps the New York region going, Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Airports, the train, subway and automobile tunnels are all at serious flood risk in a greenhouse future,” said Dr. Janine Bloomfield, an EDF scientist and principal author of the study. “Weather related shut-downs of these facilities could become the rule, rather than the exception, if global warming is not controlled.”

The report is available free at and was prepared by EDF based on scientific contributions from Columbia University scientists and other sources.