Study finds NJ is more vulnerable to climate change today than in 2012

BY David Cruz, Senior Correspondent |

A new study by the Rhodium Group takes a look at New Jersey’s resiliency seven years after Superstorm Sandy and paints a bleak image of the state’s environmental future.

NJTV News Senior Correspondent David Cruz sat down with one of the study’s co-authors, Robert Kopp, who also is the director of the Rutgers Institute of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, to unpack the study’s findings.

“What we’re looking at is how New Jersey’s risk has already changed over the past 40 years due to sea level rise and climate change, and what’s in store for the next 40,” said Kopp.

The study finds much of New Jersey is even more vulnerable to climate change now than it was in 2012, when Superstorm Sandy ravaged the state, and that there are roughly 23,000 to 27,000 more New Jersey households at risk of flooding today than there were in 1980.

And the risks will continue to grow: the report’s authors estimate the threat of higher tides and more powerful storms could take an economic toll on New Jersey as high as $3 billion.

“There’s not a cookie-cutter solution to this problem. Each community has to find a solution that makes sense for it, given its particular geographic and economic circumstances,” said Kopp. “But, one of the messages that comes out of that analysis is that it’s really critical that we start having those discussions now.”

As for risk management, Kopp suggests communities work toward strengthening emergency response plans and elevating and protecting buildings. He also suggests, long-term solutions, such as buying people out of flood-prone properties and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions to limit the impact of climate change.