Thursday, November 4, 2010

The struggle for coastal cities

A great, chock-full article by Douglas Fischer in the Daily Climate: The city of Alexandria, Egypt's second largest, spills down either side of a thin ridge running some 100 kilometers along the Mediterranean coast, hard up against the sea on one side and marsh and reclaimed fields on the other.

It is an ancient port city, never designed for the car, and traffic congestion has long been the city's bane. So a few years ago, gridlocked and desperate, the city paved over some of its beaches and ran a six-lane highway for 25 kilometers along the Mediterranean shore.

…As sea levels rise and storm surges increase in response to a changing climate, Alexandria is finding that a solution to one problem has inadvertently opened the city to others. Nor is Alexandria alone. Around the world, low-lying cities are facing unexpected challenges that threaten to chew through scarce or non-existent cash and leave residents and property increasingly vulnerable.

Protecting those residents from rising oceans and surging water remains one of the more daunting challenges presented by climate change, many engineers and urban planners say. It could also be one of the most expensive. Last month 1,100 delegates from 62 countries gathered here in Europe's largest port to assess how to best adapt to the threat climate change poses to the world's delta cities. The task is daunting.

Overall, some $70 billion to $100 billion a year - 0.2 percent of global gross domestic product - will be needed to adequately protect cities throughout the developing world, Dutch Crown Prince Willem Alexander noted as he opened the conference, sponsored by the Dutch Knowledge for Climate research program…..

The corniche in Alexandria, with a crashing wave, shot by Daniel Mayer, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

No comments: