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What cities can learn from Hurricane Sandy

Atmosphere in Times Square following Hurricane Sandy on October 30, 2012 in New York City.
Atmosphere in Times Square following Hurricane Sandy on October 30, 2012 in New York City.
John Lamparski/Getty Images

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Superstorm Sandy is on the move, leaving a wake of destruction along the East Coast. Some blame the extent of Sandy’s devastation on the craziness of a Frankenstorm, but climate experts say the root cause is climate change – storms like Sandy are predictable, they argue.

Warmer seas and increasingly tumultuous weather patterns have become the norm in recent years. Indeed, scientists did predict that New York City would be hit by a major storm. So why are we still unprepared when disaster strikes? Abstract warnings may not be reason enough for an immediate call to action, especially when risk management solutions and retrofitted protections are so costly, but with the frequency of these incidents, and the high cost of rebuilding and relief, the time has come to weigh preventative options.

Building seawalls along parts of the coast would be expensive, but would it be more expensive than rebuilding an underground transit system damaged by salt water? In Los Angeles, earthquake warnings are the norm, but how should we actually be preparing for the inevitable big shake? What kind of risk management should be employed pre-disaster? Should climate change transform the way we anticipate and prepare for disaster? At what cost?



Molly Peterson, KPCC’s environmental reporter

Robert Puentes, Senior Fellow with the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program where he also directs the Program's Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative.

Adam Rose, research professor, coordinator for economics, Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events, Sol Price School of Public Policy, USC.