Climate change is looming, and with urbanization growing, our cities can't afford to turn a blind eye. For a sustainable future, urban planners need to start taking steps now. Temperatures are climbing and cities are creating huge carbon footprints that are further accelerating climate change.
So, what can be done? What will cities of the future look like? How can we protect our planet while ensuring that we maintain a good quality of life for people living in cities? Here are some ways urban planners are tackling the issue and finding innovative solutions.
Make Climate Change Resilient Infrastructure a Priority
Natural disasters are on the rise due to climate change, and factors like high tides, extreme heat, and storms can easily destroy essential infrastructure. As cities build and upgrade infrastructure, urban planners and civil engineers need to understand the importance of making roads, bridges, and other infrastructure resilient in the face of climate change.
We need to realize that these weather patterns aren't just exceptions. They're becoming the rule and we have to prepare for them to get worse. That's why it's important for cities to build infrastructure using resilient, sustainable materials, and to prepare for the potential weather of the future, which could be even more extreme than what we're experiencing even now.
Redesigning Cities for Reduced Cost & Increased Efficiency
Sustainability is often seen as expensive and impractical. But in addition to the fact that we have to focus on making our cities more sustainable if we want to mitigate climate change, it's important to note that sustainability can actually reduce costs and improve efficiency if done well. Adding greenery, for instance, can help to reduce heat in urban areas.
City design alone can have a huge impact on efficiency. While a grid is efficient for transportation, for example, it is prone to trapping even more heat. This isn't much of an issue in some colder cities but could make a big difference as climate change progresses. Cities can reduce trapped heat and reduce energy use to power air conditioners by the smart placement of utility lines and thoughtful urban design.
Big Data is an Asset in Planning for the Future
Urban planners need to use every tool available to them to make smart design choices. Once a decision has been made in planning a city, it is difficult and expensive to change it. While we can't predict everything that will come with climate change, we do have a powerful tool that can help urban planners make strategic decisions based on existing data: big data analytics.
Predictive analytics can help city planners consider different scenarios that could occur as climate change progresses. Using historical data, analysts can determine probability and help urban planners strategize and minimize risk. By pulling only the most relevant data and mining it for insights, city planners can make more informed decisions about new designs, infrastructure, and sustainability initiatives.
The More You Know, The More You Can Share
You may not be a city planner or have the skills to get involved with making cities more climate-friendly, but you can make a difference by continuing to educate yourself and by sharing what you learn. We need more people to be informed about the reality of climate change and about the potential solutions for the challenges facing our world.
Currently, many cities are still falling short in thinking about the future. In fact, only 47% of European cities have solid plans for becoming more climate-friendly, despite the fact that many European citizens are concerned about the effects of climate change.
It's extremely important to bring awareness of these issues to the global population, especially as people gravitate toward urban areas. Our cities are not equipped for climate change or for a large population influx. Unfortunately, our window of opportunity for fighting climate change is closing rapidly, and leaders in urban areas must get on board immediately and build smarter, more sustainable cities.
Although learning about climate change can be scary, it's important to learn as much as you can. You really can make a difference in the movement just by sharing what you know. We all need to take part in the fight against climate change to ensure that our beautiful world remains a hospitable place to live, whether in a city or far out in the wilderness.