Filmmaker Ric Burns: New York Will Find a Way Out of Climate Disaster

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Sandy has prompted wide-ranging conversations about how to better protect the city from more frequent and severe storms. Planners have spoken about levees and floodgates, marshlands, and other ways to keep the water from overtaking the region’s low-lying land.

In an interview with WNYC, documentary filmmaker Ric Burns said New York has always been on the cusp of technological and infrastructural advancements. He also said he expects some similar reaction this time.

“When the problems hit,” Burns said, “they’re striking an urban population that is both particularly vulnerable to those problems, but also particularly adept at saying: ‘You know what? We invented this new order, now we have to invent the way to fix it.’”

But Burns, the director of the eight-part “New York: A Documentary Film” series on PBS, also warned that sometimes those advancements backfire in unexpected ways.

The blizzard of 1888, he said, prompted officials to bury power lines, and indirectly led to the subways system …. which in turn was hobbled last week by Sandy.