Experts are warning us that floods, droughts and heat waves will increase, while cities around the world attempt to prepare themselves for future climate catastrophes – and population explosions.
It sounds like a movie scene: Wall Street evacuated because of a hurricane warning, 370,000 people forced to flee Manhattan. The New York Stock Exchange is forced to shut down, and the international world of finance is sucked, literally, into the eye of the storm.
It’s a scenario that almost became reality in August 2011, when Hurricane Irene rolled across the Atlantic Ocean towards New York. The US metropolis had already made preparations to shut down the Subway system and turn off the power grid, while the inhabitants of Manhattan were to be evacuated. But luckily it didn’t come to that, and at the last minute Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was able to give the all-clear.
More extreme weather
Even if New York had a narrow escape that time, most cities will have to make serious preparations for disaster situations in the future. According to the results of the so-called SREX (Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation), extreme weather phenomena like hurricanes, floods, and heat waves will become more and more common.
The SREX report was presented at the current “Resilient Cities” congress in Bonn, organized by the ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability association. How should cities prepare for the effects of climate change? What will a city of the future even look like? These are the central questions of the congress, where delegates are currently exchanging ideas and solutions.
Experts in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) believe that if governments don’t start curbing the use of fossil fuels now, the world will be between four and six degrees Celsius hotter by the end of the century. This will not only cause more frequent and stronger hurricanes and typhoons, but will also see a rise in sea levels.
“The polar ice-caps will melt, as will the ice on Greenland,” said ICLEI President David Cadman. Since two-thirds of the human race lives near water, rising sea-levels represent a direct threat to densely populated towns.