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Weatherproofing Cities to Face Future Sandys

Author: Peter R. Orszag, Adjunct Senior Fellow
May 8, 2013
Bloomberg.com

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Whether or not Hurricane Sandy had a connection to climate change, climate change will make future Hurricane Sandys more common, imposing enormous costs on cities.

Since we seem to lack the will to reduce this threat by cutting greenhouse-gas emissions, we should at least make ourselves more resilient to severe weather.

So it's encouraging to see cities and states worldwide work on better protecting themselves from storms. Rotterdam, for one, has set a goal of being "climate-proof" by 2025. It is, among other things, building climate-proof architecture. One example of what this city is aiming for is the already-existing Floating Pavilion -- three bubble-like hemispheres that, as the name implies, float on the river, making it impervious to flood surges. Many other such structures are in the planning stages.

Rising water caused by increased rainfall is one of the main threats that climate change poses to cities. Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could raise water-vapor levels by as much as 30 percent, new research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has found. As a result, says Kenneth Kunkel of the National Climatic Data Center, "We have high confidence that the most extreme rainfalls will become even more intense, as it is virtually certain that the atmosphere will provide more water to fuel these events."

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