The Climate Changed What do we do now?

We live on a new planet

I was reminded by the recent flooding in New York City how climate change impacts cities. Our roads turn into death traps during such flash floods. How do we need to rethink and redesign roads? One idea is to consider water containment and removal wholistically along with roads. That is, use green infrastructure along with the usual hard infrastructure like culverts. But wholistic water management is difficult in heavily built-up urban landscapes. We have a legacy of cities and infrastructure built for the planet we used to live on. It isn’t working well for the planet we now live on. Likewise, our economic systems and political systems will all be challenged by the parameters of this new planet.
These issues are a real challenge for city planners and engineers. At this point, academia and university instruction for planning and engineering students has not caught up to the changed context in which we find ourselves.  Students are trained for the old planet not the one on which we all now live. The changed climate, on this new planet, challenges our assumptions and the parameters by which we plan and design. We can take nothing for granted at this point. The transformation of our cities into settlements habitable in this new climate requires the transformation of how we plan and engineer those settlements. Each new extreme event demonstrates our need to get on with the job even as it can be difficult and expensive. Peoples’ lives depend upon us making that transformation.

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