Avant le Deluge

Photo: Eric McNatt

This Saturday at noon, thousands of people dressed in blue are expected to mass in Battery Park for a rally that’s part of enviro-guru Bill McKibben’s nationwide Step It Up 2007 day. The blue outfits symbolize water, and participants will troop up Pearl Street on the east side and Greenwich Street on the west to mark just how far inland the island might be submerged under a projected ten-foot rise in the water level if and when the polar caps melt. Tim Murphy spoke with Ben Jervey, 27, author of The Big Green Apple, a guide to ecofriendly living in the city, who’s organizing the whole thing.

Which parts of Manhattan would we lose with this projected waterline?
Ground zero plus some massive financial-district blocks east of Pearl and Water Streets. South Street Seaport, Battery Park City, a lot of Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village. And JFK, too, that’s at a really low level. In the shorter term, we could get this ten-foot water level from a storm surge, too. The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel could be flooded. It would be catastrophic.

Would the Richard Meier condos on the West Side Highway be submerged?
Their foundations would probably be underwater, yes.

Is your home in Williamsburg safe?
Actually, I live right on Kent Avenue, so the waterline would be nipping at it for sure.

How are you going to get 5,000 people here?
We’re hitting the blogosphere really hard, and flyering relevant businesses like the Park Slope Food Co-op. I’ve also heard some kids from Ithaca are coming down.

Once you’re all lined up on Saturday, will you do a giant wave?
Once we’re completely wrapped around the lower prow of Manhattan, we’ll do a big arm wave and yell something.

That’s a good question. Maybe “Step it up!,” meaning to step up legislation to reduce global-warming pollution 80 percent by the year 2050.

What do you do personally for the environment?
I bike everywhere and try to eat locally produced foods so I leave less of a carbon trail with the meals I eat.

What do you feel guilty about not doing?
I don’t dry my clothes on hangers instead of using a dryer. Or forgo meat altogether. Studies show that meat consumption is not so energy-efficient.

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Avant le Deluge