November 1, 2012

Retooling for ‘weather on steroids’ is new challenge for cities

Posted by: in North America

Hurricane Sandy has brought home the notion to many in the U.S. that “weather on steroids” is the new normal, a message that bodies like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have been sending for a while with increasing urgency. With billion-dollar disasters on the rise, buzzwords like “superstorm” will pop up with regularity as predictions that once seemed overly alarmist come to pass. “After what happened, what has been happening in the last few years, I don’t think anyone can sit back anymore and say ‘Well, I’m shocked at that weather pattern,’ ” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said earlier this week. If they’re not already, businesses, state and local governments, and aid organizations worldwide will need to retool for an era of wild weather.

As the globe gets increasingly urbanized, cities in particular are faced with the urgent need to become more resilient, as Richard Florida and Sara Johnson write in The Atlantic. When it comes to flooding—an issue that grows more pressing as sea levels rise at a faster rate—coastal cities have various options, as CNN outlines, from massive infrastructure overhauls to oyster beds. Preparation needs to take into account more than crises—new weather patterns will mean many new practices. Chicago, for instance, is preparing for predictions of wetter weather by repaving alleyways with more water-permeable materials and planting trees commonly found in the South. That city is ahead of most others in America, but slowly we’ll see more leaders taking concrete action as the difficult new reality sets in.

Image credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video

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