Today, New York City is wringing itself out after a late-season Nor’easter. Saturday, it dealt with another kind of flood. On April 14, a “Sea of People” dressed in blue and bearing boats, beach balls, and other watery accoutrements descended on lower Manhattan. They gathered in Battery Park at noon to hear brief speeches by community groups and leaders, and then fanned out along Church Street to the West and Pearl Street to the East, physically demarcating what would be Manhattan’s new shoreline if sea levels were to rise by ten feet—a possible reality within the next hundred years according to some global warming projections, and the current predicted flood line if New York City were to be hit by a Category 3 storm.
The event, organized for Step It Up 2007’s National Day of Climate Action, aimed to raise awareness of global warming and send a message to Washington. Writer and environmentalist Bill McKibben started Step It Up 2007 this year to advance a simple, ambitious goal: to urge legislators to cut America’s carbon emissions 80% by 2050.
McKibben thinks it’s doable. “Two percent a year for the next 40 years,” he says, “and we’ll have some chance of getting out of this mess we’re in.”