The City and the Coming Climate: Climate Change in the Places We Live

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The Gulf coast will get supercharged hurricanes, while the south-west and south-east US will be baked by increasingly hostile heat.


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Places close to a reliable source of water without being flood-prone as the seas rise are attractive, such as areas near the Great Lakes and the Pacific north-west. There will be bastions elsewhere. It will get more heatwaves, but then again we all will. New York City, for example, is flanked by rising water and is already stiflingly hot in summer, but a multibillion-dollar strategy to build flood defenses and buy out vulnerable areas should help stave off the worst impacts.

Climate resiliency is a growing focus for many towns and cities that fret about expensive clean-up costs from disasters, shading people from the heat or dealing with an eroding tax base should residents decide to uproot and head somewhere safer.

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How does climate change intensify all of that? MM: What role do architecture and design play in dealing with climate chaos? AD: Architecture and design are kind of a culture industry: they exist in relation to a set of other institutions like big museums, like MoMA, and foundations, like the Rockefeller Foundation, that are making these disciplines prominent as one of the main ways to address urban-based anthropogenic climate change. I think the communities feel betrayed. AD: While climate change continues to displace people around the world, the vast majority of people are struggling to remain in their cities or nations, particularly in the Global South.

Behind that argument was the virtuous goal of having genuine mitigation take place and cutting carbon emissions in historical perpetrators like the United States and Britain, but the discourse was racist because it used the idea of people from the Global South as a threat. In fact, the vast majority of people stay within their nation states and, if anything, climate change is increasing urbanization in Global South countries.

For a glimpse of your city’s climate future, look miles south.

We need to think about reparations, particularly in terms of energy transition. Initiatives that think about cities as important sites for adaptation have to include a sense of creating harbor for people from other parts of the world who may become displaced by this combination of long histories of imperialism and climate change.

MM: How can communities respond? You show that disasters can strengthen capitalism, and even recovery efforts can exacerbate existing inequalities.

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AD: Disaster communism is incredibly important. Occupy Sandy is an example of the flexibility, speed, and power of mutual aid. But that approach is limited, and we need to make claims on the state and fight to bend the state away from working to cement the interests of elites into working for masses of people.

And yet there are important social movements on the ground, and opportunity for pushback and for organizing.

This Scary Map Shows How Climate Change Will Transform Your City

Look miles south. As the climate warms up, cities in the northern part of the country will start to resemble their southern brethren. By Alejandra Borunda. Washington, D.

The City and the Coming Climate Climate Change in the Places We Live

Climate analogue in Ciudad Mante. San Blas Atempa. Annual mean temperature , degrees Celsius.

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Intermediate emissions scenario RCP 4. Worst-case emissions scenario RCP 8.

Iowa City. East Orange. Las Palmas. Gulf of Mexico. Grand Forks.