We tend to downplay the problem of climate change and global warming, usually because it’s hard to quantify the damage—fortunately, more and more such research is being produced. live economics the meaning for example The US economy could lose $200 billion annually by 2030 due to lost worker productivity due to heat. This phenomenon will make life in cities really difficult, because the heat absorption of concrete and tar will only cause it to heat up. Regarding this, a UN report claims that As a result of heat stress in urban areas, people will be able to work 20% less by 2050. So the problem is real, but it is very difficult to do anything about it.
There are many problems facing the world’s major cities, particularly in the area of sustainable development and livability – and as part of the latter, an answer to the increasingly intense heat must also be found. Currently there are seven cities in the world, including Athens, whose leadership is led by a special official responsible for solving problems caused by heat and mitigating heat (he has to come up with solutions that reduce the average temperature of cities, he does not have to do rain dances). In addition, nearly 100 cities are already members of the C40 network, with city governments sharing their own solutions to the problem.
As the image above shows, heat waves will get longer and longer (or stronger), and that has to be dealt with. But what solutions can cities bring? How can heat-resistant infrastructure be created and what is the role of social awareness in all of this?
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In the future, the city can fight against increasingly strong and frequent heat waves in several ways: in addition to implementing specific developments, the promotion of social awareness also plays an important role. Raising awareness is only important because people in traditionally warmer places (like Greece) are already accustomed to the heat, even though it can be dangerous for them as well. In addition to the specific health damage, both cities and people benefit from being able to prepare in advance for a potential emergency.
In Athens, for example, a heatwave classification and warning system was introduced, which ranks heat waves based on the number of likely deaths. In Seville, heat waves are already named based on a similar system, as in the United States, for example, with hurricanes and large storms, which makes it possible to more effectively communicate the imminent danger. In addition, meteorologists are under increasing pressure to predict exactly how long a period of extreme heat could last, so that authorities and individuals can prepare for it.
Long-Term Solutions – Heat Resistant Construction
Only the above solutions help to deal with the situation, but the real answer to the increasingly pressing problem lies much more in urban planning, since not only heat is dangerous for people’s health – in England, for example, heat already causes damage to specific infrastructure. During the intense heat wave in July, flights had to be canceled at London’s Luton Airport after the runway surface failed due to the heat, and train traffic began to stop due to overheating of the rails.
Outside of the rails and the runway, this phenomenon may become systemic over time. The problem is that rebuilding the infrastructure that was put in place several decades ago can also take several decades and be very expensive, but the world’s governments have avoided such investments for the time being.
According to a United Nations report, in recent years, a total of $384 billion has been invested in climate damage mitigation — a tenth of what the report says has been essential to truly low-emission and resilient urban development.
In addition, infrastructure is only one part of the solution: there is also the problem of apartment buildings and office buildings as well as public buildings, most of which were built decades ago and not adequately prepared for the extreme heat (in England there are still a large number of apartment buildings that have been They were built in the 19th century – and even if they undergo renovation, their energy efficiency is still very poor).
Rebuilding the infrastructure and simultaneously supporting the development of homes, offices and public buildings can only be done with state cooperation – however, such large-scale investments require huge resources (and a significant change of attitude). However, the payoff will also be great: The heat will not cause economic disruptions, and energy-efficient homes and offices for individuals and businesses will free up resources for these actors, thus boosting the economy..
A little goes a long way, but cities can also do something against the heat: Buildings can use blinds or blinds so they aren’t too hot inside. Thus, less natural light enters the premises, which is also unhealthy). Installing fountains and watering areas also helps a lot in preventing a yard or garden from heating up. These cheaper solutions can essentially represent a very important trend, especially for poor countries near the equator.
Of course, the above may seem like redundant suggestions – sometimes it does not hurt if you think more creatively according to the characteristics of your city. For example, the mayor of Athens encourages people to develop green roofs, so that they can create small green islands around the city, and the Athenian Sewer Company is trying to go back to the past: they want to revive the underground sewage system built in AD 140, in order to solve The problem of watering trees or supplying them to newly built wells, among other things.
Cover photo: Kristen Wermeier/Getty Images