How Will Climate Change Transform U.S. Cities?


How will climate change transform U.S. cities? That's a very difficult question to answer, I think. There are obvious ways, direct ways, like coastal cities are maybe very subject to sea level rise and parts that will flood. A lot of cities, guess what, they're built near the ocean. It just ends up that way. They are built neat waterways or oceans. It made sense in the old days because that's where the transportation came from. Those cities are particularly at risk. Sea levels are rising faster on the East Coast than almost anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, it's not just about water rising. It's about the sort of storm events that we're seeing more and more of. An equally serious consequence of climate change is that the extremes are going to get worse.

So, that we will get more severe droughts and more severe floods, so to speak, and cities need to be prepared for that. The issue of climate change is I feel like already being felt in a place like Los Angeles where I live. I mean, we are in the worst drought that we've ever been for probably five hundred years I think. We have huge issues in terms of sustaining the kinds of cities that we have. Just the simple fact that — the question, "Are we going to be able to afford to keep paying to fix what gets destroyed?" Do we rebuild them or don't we? We need to get people involved with that. But, we also need to realize that sometimes a community is going to want something but it's not something the nation can afford. If certain cities in the world become places where you cannot live where will people go? So, there'll be likely large-scale migrations that will influence the demographics of cities and places. But I do think that the biggest likely impact of climate change is going to be the dawning awareness that by living with a smaller carbon footprint we can limit the impact.

Climate change is going to require that people work together more because we're gonna have more floods and storms. We're going to have to respond to them in different ways. The challenge with city life when you think about climate change is you got to make those cities resilient because it'll impact a lot of people very quickly. The problem here is that we may have to make these adaptations over very short periods of time meaning ten to twenty years. Whereas in the past cities have had much longer time periods to evolve..