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Cities Worldwide Prepare for Climate Change

6/18/2013 10:11:52 AM

Cities and coastal areas around the world are getting their act together in preparation for the effects of climate change.

In the Netherlands, almost two-thirds of the population lives below sea level. As a result, the government spends about 1 percent of its annual budget on dikes, dunes and sea walls. But new techniques embrace the philosophy of "living with floods." For example, houses that can float have been a building sensation.

Thames Barrier. Photo by: Flickr user J1M_C4MP3ELL

Since 1982, London has had a half-mile-long Thames Barrier composed of 10 massive steel gates, each 5 stories high when raised against high water. The barrier is expected to hold until 2070. Meanwhile, Londoners are expanding the city's sewage system and dabbling in urban greening.

Four counties of south Florida, including Miami-Dade, have collaborated on a regional plan to respond to climate change. The first action plan pushes for more public transportation and stopping the flow of seawater into fresh water.

New York recently announced one of the most ambitious adaptation plans, with recommendations ranging from removable flood walls in lower Manhattan and restoring marshes in Jamaica Bay in Queens to flood-proofing homes.

Bangladesh is implementing two major projects worth $470 million that involve growing forests on its coastal belt and building more multistory storm shelters.

In Cuba, the government plans to raze thousands of houses, restaurants, hotels and improvised docks in a race to restore much of the coast to something approaching its natural state.

But adaption goes beyond sea-level rise and storm surges. In Kenya's Mbeere district, for example, adaptation efforts are focused on learning to cope with the climatic changes, adjusting farming practices and improving water conservation (Karl Ritter, Associated Press, June 16).

Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500.

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