CLIMATE ADAPTATION

I want to punch climate change in the face. A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.


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Posts tagged "urban planning"

If Mogadishu occupies an ambiguous space in our minds and hearts, it is because ours is a land with an overwhelming majority of pastoralists, who are possessed of a deep urbophobia.

Maybe this is why most Somalis do not seem unduly perturbed by the fate of the capital: a city broken into segments, each of them ruthlessly controlled by an alliance of militias.

by Somali writer Nuruddin Farah (1988). I read this mind blowing quote while researching migration as a climate adaptation option for certain cities.

Urbaphobia" - the condition that cities are a threat to rural life. As a consequence, said cities will not obtain the support required for their long term existence.

I’m not sure of the cultural scale required for urbaphobia to supplant the viability of cities, but it is an interesting concept. Perhaps, for example, Detroit needed a certain level of support from the surrounding rural areas in order to survive. If true, which other cities are threatened by this phobia?

webofgoodnews:

This Pop-Up Solar Power Station Can Be Installed Instantly Anywhere In The World

At the push of a button, this shipping container instantly transforms into a pop-up solar power station: Hidden solar panels slide out of drawers on each side and immediately start generating energy wherever they’re needed, whether for disaster relief or in a remote village far off the grid.

—If that’s not good enough for you, then there’s also this:

The first model, released this month, includes onboard atmospheric water generators that pull water from the air. “We’re able to provide water without a water source,” says McGuire.

Read more

Interesting. I work in international development, and I can’t see who’d pay for these. Taxpayers? 

It seems the media loves them more than the markets. Diesel and gas generators are way waayyy cheaper. They’re produce more energy for more people in more places. They’re more accessible, easily repairable and replaceable, and are a more efficient response mechanism than a battery (solar panels charge a battery, then the battery is plugged into power station or some other distribution hub). In fact, many states already have long-term contracts with utilities to use the more reliable and time tested fossil fuel generator.

Utility power companies should consider using temporary power plants (coupled diesel or gas generators coupled, electric transformers with built-in power substation, fuel tanks and other power accessories) when no other possible alternative source of power generation, such as diesel-powered generators, is available to supplement the electricity shortfall during repairs and maintenance.

These plants can, for example, use a 100 MW rental power plant for six months to avoid power interruptions and continuously supply electricity to critical areas such as airports, data centers or hospitals… See here.

The fact that they’re dirty and pollutive does not trump their utility or world-wide acceptance.

I’d also point out that, as sexy as these units are, solar rental systems already exist. They’re used in the field by temporary construction crews, and possibly by disaster response teams (it’s unclear from their website), but their utility, availability, deployment times, maintenance and other costs are still unproven.

Finally, who is responsible for disposing the batteries?

(via fastcompany)

Climate change poses a direct threat to the infrastructure of America that we need to stay competitive in this 21st-century economy. That means that we should see this as an opportunity to do what we should be doing anyway, and that’s modernizing our infrastructure, modernizing our roads, modernizing our bridges, power grids, our transit systems, and making sure that they’re more resilient. That’s going to be good for commerce and it’s obviously going to be good for communities.
–– President Obama, delivering remarks at the Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience Meeting, July 16, 2014

Via www.WhiteHouse.gov

Nice Al Jazeera op-ed covers Obama’s climate resilient cities competition.

Rebuild by Design,’ an Obama initiative, announces winning resilience planning proposals. My favorite is at top right, Resist, Delay, Store, Discharge: A Comprehensive Strategy for Hoboken, NJ. The team won $230 million(!) to implement the water front plan, which aims to restore wetlands, raise boardwalks, protect residents, and control the flow of water from storms. Worth clicking through!

The entire city of Florence, Italy is the same size as this highway interchange in Atlanta, Georgia. Via

nbcnightlynews:

Living on the edge: House built along Texas cliff in danger of falling into Lake Whitney 

Detailshttp://nbcnews.to/1kPnSCc

Urban planning in America.

Asker majam Asks:
What are your thoughts on this project? solar-roadways on IndieGoGo site? (no links allowed...) I find it quite inspiring!
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hi Majam,

Nice to hear from you again. I’ve seen the Solar Roadways project on several enviro-sites and it seems the media is eating it up. They even picked up an endorsement from Republican Senator Mike Crappo (R-ID), which I found most surprising:

Keep in mind, Solar Roadways started in 2009 with a $100k grant from the Dept. of Energy. Solar Roadways already had their day in the media spotlight back in 2010. The now-closed blog Infrastructurist panned the idea as "dubious" and "batshit crazy" based on a few thumbnail calculations using basic transportation engineering standards required to build roads. 

Solar roads are and enviro-media darling, that’s for sure. My take is that there might be a few test roads built, but overall the idea is impossible at this point. It would cost tens of trillions of dollars to build at tax-payer expense. Dozens of policies, thousands of laws, and countless transportation and engineering standards would have to be rewritten (and pass congress). All 50 states would have to voluntarily change their transportation regulations. Not to mention the public objections, lobbyists, and litigation that would add decades of delays.

For those inspired by new technologies like solar roads, you have to answer the basic policy questions: What are the procedures to change transportation laws? How would you get congressional support? What does it take to change one rule (never mind hundreds of rules for solar roads) at your state’s DOT? Inspiration often times has to respond to, and outlast, very serious objections…

Best,

Michael

When Predators Vanish, So Does the Ecosystem

Mark D. Bertness, an ecologist at Brown University, began studying the salt marshes of New England in 1981. Twenty-six years later, in 2007, he started to watch them die. In one marsh after another, lush stretches of cordgrass disappeared, replaced by bare ground. The die-offs were wiping out salt marshes in just a few years.

“It’s unbelievable how quickly it’s moved in,” Dr. Bertness said.

Scientists have been witnessing a similar transformation in a number of plant species along coastlines in the United States and in other countries. And in many cases, it’s been hard to pinpoint the cause of the die-off, with fungal outbreaks, pollution, choking sediments stirred up by boats, and rising sea levels proposed as killers.

There is much at stake in the hunt for the culprit, because salt marshes are hugely important. They shield coasts from flooding, pull pollutants from water and are nurseries for many fish species.

Via NYTimes

Salt marshes play an important role in flood protection. They’re particularly important ecosystems that need protection as sea levels rise, humans over fish, and invasive species take over.

I’m sure some will disagree with me, but I think this is great news. For decades, U.S. taxpayers have been subsidizing insurance for private homes and businesses that have been built in dangerous, flood-prone areas. Thousands of buildings are built (and rebuilt) in coastal areas that flood and storm with incredible reliability - and taxpayers foot the bill to rebuild these buildings in the same exact, vulnerable areas.

A Florida coastal home bought in August 2012 that pays a yearly premium of $500 will rise to $4,500.

It’s unfair, dangerous, and wasteful. This insurance, called the National Flood Insurance Program, has been a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars.

Even the U.S. government admits the program is terrible: see the GAO’s raw assessment of the program, here. Now, the program is being significantly scaled back. Unfortunately, this will affect several thousand people who own property in dangerous areas. The price of flood insurance will go up substantially, and many people will have to move.

Strategy includes using climate science to help predict and prevent fires.

"As climate change spurs extended droughts and longer fire seasons, this collaborative wildfire blueprint will help us restore forests and rangelands to make communities less vulnerable to catastrophic fire," said Acting Chair Boots. "With President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the Administration is committed to promoting smart policies and partnerships like this strategy that support states, communities, businesses, farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders who are working to protect themselves from more frequent or intense fires, droughts and floods, and other impacts of climate change."

The Strategy includes both national strategic planning and regionally-specific assessment and risk analysis to address such factors as climate change, increasing community sprawl, and pests and disease affecting forest health across landscapes, regardless of ownership. Approaches include:

  • Adopting preventive measures, such as fuels thinning and controlled burns;
  • Promoting effective municipal, county and state building and zoning codes and ordinances;
  • Ensuring that watersheds, transportation and utility corridors are part of future management plans; and
  • Determining how organizations can best work together to reduce and manage human-caused ignitions.

The comprehensive principles and processes highlighted in the strategy have already been implemented successfully in some areas of the country, such as the Blue Mountains near Flagstaff, Arizona and the Greater Okefenokee Association of Landowners in Georgia. The Strategy will encourage knowledge sharing between communities and expand best practices to other projects and locations across the country.