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Green Blog: Stronger than the Storm?

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Sep 4, 2013    •    652 Views

By Amy Tourgee, guest blogger, Kent Place School alumna and Environmental Studies undergraduate at Princeton University

Well, Labor Day weekend has come and gone, meaning summer has finally come to an end. Pools are closing, kids are going back to school, white jeans are being put back into drawers for next year – just generally a sad transition. There is one good thing about the start of September, though (besides my birthday and pumpkin spice lattes)… September 1st marks the end of the Stronger than the Storm campaign in NJ. That’s right – you won’t ever have it stuck in your head all day and you don’t ever have to hear it on the radio again.

To be honest, the song was quite annoying to me in many ways. As a jingle, of course, but also the message it was sending. Whenever I hear “’Cause we’re stronger than the storm,” I just think to myself, “Uh, I don’t think we are stronger than the storm.” I mean, if a hurricane like Sandy hit again, we’d be toast, again. And thanks to climate change, storms are becoming more frequent and more intense, so Sandy isn’t just a one in a hundred year storm. No, we’ll probably encounter another Sandy in a future nearer than we think. So what preventative or protection measures have we taken? Not many… although this one is cool.

The unpopular suggestion — and this will never happen — is to re-build the communities of the Jersey shore far away from the Jersey shore. I know, it’s crazy! But let’s quickly go over the CBA (cost benefit analysis – we use it so often we should have a short hand, right?) of the shore community remaining by the shore. Costs: $$ to restore the shore communities after a storm, rising sea level eating up property value. Benefits: $$ from tourism, maintaining the culture and history of the NJ communities down there.

It’s not an easy comparison. For this analysis, we would have to take a look at scientific predictions for storm patterns in the future. And also we would have to think about how we value the culture/history aspect. How do we translate that into a monetary value? It’s definitely a difficult analysis, but one worth considering.

I understand we can’t just re-build every major city or community near the ocean (Manhattan alone…), and I am very happy that the Sandy victims are receiving support and aid, but it just seems to me in the case of the NJ shore that we’re entering a cycle of storm devastation and re-building.

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