New York is raising subway grates so they don't act as giant drains in floods, while Connecticut is thinning trees and contemplating micro-grids in the wake of a hurricane and Halloween winter storm. The Bay Area is making cost projections for levees and a flood-absorbing peripheral canal, which all must be designed with the next big earthquake in mind.
It was hard not feel at least a little bit of a sense of impending doom at the first sponsored session at the American Planning Association's National Planning Conference, with senior fellow Armando Carbonell, David M. Kooris from the Regional Plan Association, and San Francisco-based consultant Laurie A. Johnson -- all contributors to Resilient Coastal City Regions: Planning for Climate Change in the United States and Australia. Sea level rise, drought, fires, storm surge, and volatile weather promise drastic changes for coastal regions, where much of urban humanity lives.
While preparation is on the minds of many non-governmental and civic organizations, many are "overwhelmed by the scale of the problem," said Kooris. Planning -- and paying for -- climate adaptation infrastructure also requires appropriately regional governance structures to make big decisions, and regional collaboration continues to be a challenge, Johnson said.
Perhaps no surprise then, that when talking about adapting to climate change impacts, the discussion turns to creating "floodable development zones" and the ultimate buzzword for the next 50 years: strategic retreat.