07/06/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Never Should Have Built it There -- New York

After four years of hearing, from commenters on the New Orleans disaster, that "they never should have built it there... they should just move it inland/upstream/away", comes this report on a conference suggesting the dire future that may await New York City if (or, as one expert puts it, "when") a hurricane generates serious storm surge.

The proposed solution: a set of barriers ringing the city to protect it from inundation. The proposed cost: billions of (supposedly federal) dollars. The alternative: there is none, because, says one of the designers of the proposed barriers:

"We're going to have to do something," Bowman said. "Or else you retreat, and that's inconceivable. How are you going to retreat from New York City?"

Well, the same way people do each summer: everybody to the Hamptons.

Here's a suggestion: for the sake of every city surrounded by water (much of Chicago, which I recently visited, actually sits nestled very tightly between a lake and a river), let's fix what the shoddily designed and constructed federal levees did to New Orleans first, and see if that works as a successful model. The Dutch have been doing this for hundreds of years, they may even have something to teach us. Even though they're -- ugh -- Europeans.

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