As our world continues to warm, there is more water vapor in the air. This means more intense storms in which tons of water will fall in a short period of time, overwhelming our sewer systems and causing flash floods. These are called “cloudbursts” or “extreme precipitation events”, and they will be a major part of urban life for the rest of our lives. So what’s a city to do? There are engineering solutions, where we can try to build up our own capacity to take all this water, either with dams and tunnels below ground, or with rain gardens, bioswells, green roofs, and public works, which drain the land. The above double as emergency reservoirs. We can also elevate our roads.
But increasingly, urban planners believe that we need to re-imagine our relationship with nature – namely, that we need to stop trying to tame nature and learn to live with it. All the asphalt and concrete covering our cities has nowhere to go when there used to be soil and vegetation to accept the water. We need to think about what we have built on top of the land to reveal what lies beneath, “daylight” old streams and waterbeds and eventually buy basement apartments, especially in flood-prone areas. have been We also need a system to warn people when these “cloudburst” events are coming, not unlike a hurricane or tornado.
To learn more, watch the video above, the latest in our unpocalypse Series on how smart people are working to tackle the climate crisis in clever ways.
senior staff writer
Jack Holmes is a senior staff writer at Esquire, where he covers politics and sports. He also hosts Useful References, a video series.
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