How can cities become more resilient to extreme weather events?


(Artwork/Ava Fong’23)

Yvonne Wang, Online Staff Writer

As climate change becomes more of a pressing issue, governments are devising policies to counter its effects. Environmental pollution, flooding, and wildfires are only some effects of climate change on cities. As the situation exacerbates over time, many are worried if there is any possibility to save the planet from destruction. Architecture teacher David Burkett shares that it may be too late to do anything now, and we may have run out of time to save ourselves. The question is, how should we use our dwindling days to save cities from future destruction, using the best of our abilities? 

EnAct Co-head senior Caroline Ewing believes a key solution to helping cities become more resilient is to be flexible and adapt based on current weather trends. It would be more helpful if cities plan infrastructure “based on recent weather data rather than old trends” and anticipate which “areas are most susceptible to extreme weather.” She also links the reason for cities’ slow response to weather emergencies with environmental justice, in which she said extreme weather events would disproportionately affect communities of color and low-income in New York City being more susceptible to flooding, for example. Senior Mehak Dhaliwal added g that it is necessary to increase civic awareness of the emergency of the crisis. In this fast-changing age, it has “become easier for people to ignore such warnings because of their sheer quantity, but ensuring that everyone understands the true danger is a necessary step.” 

On the other hand, it is important for us not to solely rely on the responsibility of the government, but to act ourselves. Ewing also states that “a few years ago, the Trump administration made the poor choice to exempt federal agencies and public infrastructure projects from planning for sea-level rise, which emphasizes that cities (and us) can’t always rely on the support of the federal government, and [we] must begin by tackling these issues on our own”. 

Yet, the solution isn’t always that easy. Mr. Burkett opines that there are many examples to be borrowed from, such as Venice being a “flooded city” and Holland with its flood-control projects. What is most important at the moment is more environmentally aware, knowledgeable architects and further investment into more disaster prevention projects.