Category:

Climate Change Adaptation

Michigan’s Struggles to Fund Stormwater Infrastructure: “Paying more for infrastructure and utilities is the new reality,” said engineer Greg Kacvinsky


“The pipes that we put in the ground 50 years ago were designed under a different set of criteria. And so when rainfall changes, and when climate changes, the system doesn’t provide the same level of service that it used to. Where communities used to be able to rely on money coming down, or raining down, from the federal government, now the federal government is there to say, we’ll give you money…but you’re gonna pay us back,” Greg Kacvinsky said.

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“IBC fully stands by our insured loss numbers and their attribution to escalating severe weather events driven by climate change,” wrote Craig Stewart, Insurance Bureau of Canada, in an Op-Ed published in the Financial Post newspaper


“The IBC-sponsored report, Combating Canada’s Rising Floods Costs: Natural infrastructure is an underutilized option, provides a framework for making decisions about the return on investment of green infrastructure deployed as a climate-adaptation measure,” wrote Craig Stewart. “Fundamentally, we as a nation need to prepare for the impacts of severe weather. By focusing on adapting to climate change we can work together constructively to keep Canadians out of harm’s way.”

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WUHAN IS CHINA’S LEADING ‘SPONGE CITY’: Under this nation-wide program, Wuhan and the other participating areas must ensure that 20% of their urban land includes sponge features by 2020, with a target of being able to retain 70% of storm water


“Street names are often the only reminder of the lakes and pools that been filled in and built over, but in 2016, after a week of torrential downpours, they filled with water again,” wrote Li Jing. “The authorities blamed poor drainage and said Wuhan’s low-lying geography made it hard for storm water to be discharged into the Yangtze when water levels in the river were high. Many locals blamed the loss of the city’s lakes. With the latest UN figures projecting Wuhan’s population will exceed 10 million by 2035, the situation remains critical.”

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THE CITY WITHIN A GARDEN: “Human beings need contact with nature and the natural environment. They need it to be healthy, happy, and productive and to lead meaningful lives. Nature is not optional, but an absolutely essential quality of modern urban life.” – Tim Beatley, Biophilic Cities Network


Tim Beatley is an internationally recognized sustainable city researcher and author. His writings have focused on creative strategies cities can use to reduce their ecological footprints and become more livable and equitable places. He coined the term green urbanism. “Biophilic cities are cities of abundant nature in close proximity to large numbers of urbanites. Biophilic cities value residents innate connection and access to nature through abundant opportunities to be outside and to enjoy nature,” states Tim Beatley.

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REPORT ON CLIMATE ADAPTATION & LIABILITY: How can green industry professionals such as landscape architects and designers be subject to legal liability because they fail to account for and adapt to climate impacts?


Co-authored by Deanna Moran, a report by the US-based Conservation and Law Foundation identifies three factors that contribute to climate liability risk for design professionals. “The more we talk about risks publicly, the greater the foreseeability of climate impacts, increasing potential exposure to liability,” stated Deanna Moran. “The failure of previous litigation against major greenhouse gas emitters could lead to a shift in focus on the design community as defendants when talking about the realm of climate change litigation. Standard of care is a key concept in negligence litigation.”

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TOO SMALL TO FAIL: Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation reports that smaller scale, agile efforts to limit flood risk using green infrastructure can collectively contribute to ensuring the resiliency of communities (November 2018)


“Partnerships and community engagement can significantly contribute to the success of a project. There are many ways in which a partner can add value to a project, such as through providing scientific expertise or having a significant level of influence and leadership in a community,” stated Dana Decent. “Engaging local stakeholders is critical, as they are the ones who are directly impacted by floods in an area. Continual engagement of stakeholders can result in greater widespread support.”

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“The mottos of the sponge city are: Retain, adapt, slow down and reuse,” stated Kongjian Yu, the landscape architect who has transformed some of China’s most industrialized cities into standard bearers of green architecture


“One thing I learned is to slow down the process of drainage. All the modern industrial techniques and engineering solution is to drain water away after the flood as fast of possible. So, modern tech is to speed up the drainage but ancient wisdom, which has adapted in the monsoonal season, was to slow down the drainage so the water will not be destructive anymore. By slowing the water it can nurture the habitat and biodiversity,” stated Konjian Yu.

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DESIGNING WITH NATURE IN NEW YORK CITY: “For better resiliency, don’t just try to defeat nature—work with it,” says Carter Strickland, New York state director of The Trust for Public Land


“Before Hurricane Sandy, most New Yorkers felt immune from natural disasters. We don’t experience frequent tornadoes like parts of the Midwest, earthquakes like California, or droughts and wildfires that have scorched much of the west. Sandy was our wakeup call for how climate change will have significant and widespread affects,” wrote Carter Strickland. “By including innovative parks and playgrounds in our long-term planning, New York City can serve as a model for American coastal cities looking for ways to mitigate the effects of climate change.”

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MIMIC NATURE, RESTORE THE WATER BALANCE, ADAPT TO A CHANGING CLIMATE: “The cumulative investment in sponge city projects in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Wuhan and other areas could reach $US300 billion by the end of 2020,” wrote Michael Standaert


“It’s a recognition that in arid areas of northern China, cities didn’t factor in heavy rains as they rapidly expanded and added roadways. That left sewer systems inadequate to deal with sudden storms or to capture rainfall for times of need. Huge storms have caused major damage and death in Beijing, Tianjin, Wuhan and Nanjing in recent years,” wrote Michael Standaert. “Chinese cities join a growing number of communities around the world creating green infrastructure.”

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CASE FOR GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE: “Revitalizing the natural hydrological system can also aid the absorption of floodwaters,” notes Dr. John Jacob, Texas A&M University


US cities situated next to large bodies of water, including Boston, Houston, and Milwaukee, are making plans to build water-absorbent green spaces that also serve as recreational spots – instead of installing more industrial concrete walls – to stem rising floodwaters. “The focus of Community Engagement and Risk Communication is to help Texas coastal communities go beyond emergency response to achieve long-term resilience to hazards,” said Dr. John Jacob.

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