Apres Klaus, le Deluge
Written by Bwog Staff
The cover story in this week’s Village Voice is an interview with Columbia’s Klaus Jacob, geophysicist and adjunct professor of international and public affairs.
Jacob is a big time disaster expert: in the 90s, his research on earthquakes convinced the city to change its building codes. And when he worked for President Clinton, he was the first to lead a national study on the effects of global warming.
Nonetheless, Jacob has been trying to warn Columbia for four years about the possible dangers inherent to the University’s blueprint for Manhattanville. Columbia, as it tends to do from time to time, is not listening.
For one, he believes that the new campus is located right in the heart of a flood zone (Think about the valley where the 1 train comes above ground. In fact, there’s Jacob over there to the right, standing in this very valley.) And thanks to global warming, the possibility of flooding due to hurricanes is only going to steadily increase over the years.
What troubles him most is the 17 acre basement — which Columbia says will be used for heating, ventilation, and maybe a bus depot — that will eventually be 8 stories deep. Jacob wants the University to build a floodgate, but Columbia argued that this isn’t the first basement of its kind in New York, so there’s no reason why they should build it.
And because this is an article about Manhattanville, there’s a Nick Sprayregen cameo too. Manhattanville’s most famous resident agrees with Jacob about the dangers of the basement, and has even sued the University for not properly investigating the flooding risks. (Jacob refuses to join Sprayregen’s legal crusade.)
Jacob tells the Voice that for his warnings to the administration have gone unanswered for years. “I was naive enough to think that by mentioning something, I could make something happen,” he said.