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Failure to prepare for climate change places Britain in risk of floods, experts warn

Failure to prepare for climate change places Britain in risk of floods, experts warn | as geography rivers | Scoop.it
BRITAIN is being put at risk of floods and soaring temperatures by a failure to prepare for climate change, a panel of experts warned yesterday.
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PM: 'I Back The Environment Agency'

PM: 'I Back The Environment Agency' The Prime Minister gave his unequivocal backing to the work of the Environment Agency as he visited the flood-stricken So...
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Bangladesh Floods Displace Thousands

ANCHOR: Two weeks of incessant flooding has killed 12 people in Bangladesh and nearly 200000 have been forced from their homes. Here's the update. STORY: Fl...
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The Race Is On to Protect Millions of People from Flooding ...

On average, 6,000 people in Bangladesh die each year in storms and floods. In April 1991, a single cyclone, the worst in recent decades, wiped out well over 100,000 lives in the delta and left millions of people homeless.
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Tens of thousands of Afghans displaced after deadly floods

Tens of thousands of Afghans displaced after deadly floods | as geography rivers | Scoop.it
Flash floods in northern Afghanistan have killed more than 120 people and forced tens of thousands from their homes, aid agencies and the United Nations said on Monday.
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Not Waving But Drowning: UN Agenda 21 and the Designer Floods in the UK

Not Waving But Drowning: UN Agenda 21 and the Designer Floods in the UK | as geography rivers | Scoop.it
You may be only just now waking up and rubbing the sleep out of your eyes to the news that the recent flooding of Britain is the result of EU policies to deliberately create wetlands in the UK ….. ...
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UK Floods 2014 Could Last for Months + 1.6M Homes at Risk for Flooding

Follow ClimateState on facebook for climate research https://www.facebook.com/ClimateState Andy McKenzie, a groundwater scientist at the British Geological S...
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Hot Cities 5 - Dhaka Bangladesh 1 - Water Water Everywhere - BBC Environmental Documentary

Hot Cities 5 - Dhaka Bangladesh 1 - Water Water Everywhere - BBC Environmental Documentary, recorded 31.10.2009 "Water Water Everywhere" -- With over-flowing...
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Rebecca Geevarghese's curator insight, June 1, 5:45 PM
Accurately depicts climate change effects on the environment and people's livability 
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Turning Flood Waters Into Liquid Assets

As Isaac continues to pour down rain on the Gulf Coast and test New Orleans’s new flood-prevention system, there are lessons we can learn from other cities about how to design a city to make the most of too much water.

 

You would think we humans would have an innate alliance with water. After all, the ocean covers 71% of the Earth’s surface. Our own body mass is more than 50% water. And each of us needs some 50 liters of water a day (for drinking, sanitation, hygiene) to maintain our water balance, although Americans use notably more than that. Water is life and death; it’s our primal paradox.

And yet, that colorless, transparent liquid that demands our attention when it falls furiously from the sky (or conspicuously doesn’t) continues to bewilder us, threatening individuals, society and the environment, more so than ever before--a change in status that was noted by the World Economic Forum this past year. It moved “water supply crises” in all its myriad forms to its list of Top 5 Global Risks. Climate uncertainty, predicted rise in sea level and rapid urbanization are likely conspiring to create the perfect ugly storm, which we’re seeing with ubiquity lately. This year alone, floods have devastated China, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, the UK, Florida, Minnesota, Haiti, the list goes on and now includes the aftermath of a hurricane called Isaac, all while America’s heartland languishes in drought.

 

With sudden deluges, our immediate response is to get rid of the offending water fast. Storm water is the enemy. It can cause damage and kill in its ferocity.

But what if people and governments took another view of storm waters that might cause floods and adopted a broader vision of water as life? What if we forged an alliance with storm water, slowed it down, and turned it into a temporary amenity and even a long-term economic benefit and lifeblood for our cities and communities?

Soccer fields might turn into temporary ponds with out even flipping a switch, giving the surging water a place to go. Streets would be designed to become canals (with appropriate warning signage when they do), putting the homes along them above most storm water levels. Heck, gulley washers (as I refer to furious rains) might even be construed as something good for the rose bushes or, more generally, the landscape, which in turn, keeps our cities cool and sequesters the carbon dioxide that’s likely causing the problem in the first place.

We’re doing some of this and more in Houston, where we face a never-ending Gulf stream of bad storms with nice kids’ names along with the consequences of our historic lack of urban planning (which we are now trying to correct)--not to mention a clay soil that doesn’t drink water very efficiently.

 

Although Houston has a different story than Manila, Beijing, or Bogota, many of the lessons learned down here in the Texas Gulf for managing storm water could be tweaked and implemented in other cities.
In fact, I did some “exporting” earlier this summer. As an architect whose passion is making the built environment more flexible and resilient to disaster, I was invited to speak in Bogota, Colombia, at a symposium titled “Infrastructure for Climate Change.” It was sponsored by the CAF Development Bank of Latin America, and the bankers, policy makers, and engineers in attendance came looking for ideas on how to make South American cities more resilient to their own water supply crises.

The bottom line, whether we’re talking Houston or Bogota or Manila: Figuring out how to tame the surge is first order. But the ultimate goal is to transcend the crisis and turn those flood waters into an asset. Lemonade out of lemons. That kind of thinking--part of larger disaster planning--saves lives and economies and that’s big stuff.

Floods now affect an estimated 520 million people annually, causing global economic losses between $50 and $60 billion, according to data from the 5th International Conference on Flood Management held in Tokyo last year (and organized by the International Centre for Water Hazard Risk Management under the auspices of UNESCO and the Public Works Research Institute). The flooding in Beijing alone this summer forced 70,000 people to temporarily relocate and caused $1.6 billion in economic losses, according to The Wall Street Journal. More than 75 people died.

What we created here in Houston over the course of many decades and lots of trial-and-error and what is fodder for other cities and communities is our approach to infrastructure. We like to turn this hardened “element” into something mutable. We’ve made key roads, parks and parking lots able to transform into giant water containers that leap into action when a gulley washer strikes.

Some of this goes way back. In the late '30s and '40s (following massive flooding), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created several earthen dam reservoirs (a.k.a. flood control lakes) in an area just outside Houston that was not prime real estate. Only when storm waters surge do these dry reservoirs (which were excavated just a few feet lower than the surrounding land) turn into “natural” lakes.

 

Over the years, several parks (with fully flood-able, naturally draining soccer fields, softball fields, tennis courts, walking trails) were scattered throughout those large earthen reservoirs. So essentially, and to this day,, our giant storm water basin to the west looks and acts like a large-scale recreation area--an amenity for the city--most days of the years. Lemonade out of lemons.

Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, which was not particularly fierce but one of those hangers-on, taught us lessons (also applicable to other cities) about thinking “small” too.

With most of Rice University, the Texas Medical Center and downtown Houston under water, we learned the importance of micro water collection elements—a series of parks, water gardens and other low-impact catchment strategies as well as roads-as-canals scattered throughout the city to manage an extended deluge.

High flood risk streets were identified throughout the city and rebuilt. They now dip down several feet so water moves from the property level. These designated streets become canals in a big storm, while maintaining others high and dry for emergency access. Houses escape the surge. We likewise “sunk” soccer and rugby fields throughout the Rice campus. Fields become temporary water features that generally drain very quickly. Parking lots in Houston have alter egos, too. We dug many of them up and inserted sub-surface water tanks and then repaved the surface with permeable materials.

 

While we “dug deep,” we also “raised up”—vital electrical facilities, on dikes/berms and gave them and other critical facilities such as hospitals protection by hydrostatic or submarine-like doors at ground level and below. These doors are pseudo flood gates that establish a controlled flow of water into a building to prevent structural damage from water pressure.

Costly? You bet. But it’s cheaper than flood damage--and you can’t put a price tag on human life.

The soccer field/pond idea is one that works for many South American cities (given the strong soccer culture and, hence, presence of fields) and one I highlighted in Bogota. I took the concept a step further, though, and proposed that the water collected in those game fields somehow be channeled to the rose farms in the plateau surrounding the city where water is needed for irrigation. Flowers are one of Colombia’s main exports. In figuring out how to move it, flood water would then become an economic advantage for the city. Again, lemonade out of lemons.

Water is boon and bust. It’s floods and drought and power outages too, as we learned this summer from the massive one in India and the lack of a sufficient water supply in the power plants there. We need to wrap our minds--and our infrastructure--around this important resource in new, creative ways.

 


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UK floods: 10 articles you must read on climate, science and resilience

UK floods: 10 articles you must read on climate, science and resilience | as geography rivers | Scoop.it
Politicians, economists, scientists and comedians have their say on worst floods to hit the UK for 50 years

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Cambium's curator insight, February 14, 2014 6:27 PM

Check out the last article by Mark Steel - amusing and apt.

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Floods kill over 50 in Afghanistan

Flash floods have killed more than 50 people in northern Afghanistan, washing away hundreds of houses and forcing thousands to flee.
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Bangladesh will disappear I BBC - Hot Planet [2010 HD 1080p]

http://bangladesh-life.blogspot.co.uk/ Duration: 1 hour [28:24] "Bangladesh already suffer severe flooding in river erosion and is forecast to be devastated ...
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UK floods 2014: government response and recovery - News stories ...

UK floods 2014: government response and recovery - News stories ... | as geography rivers | Scoop.it
Government information and advice about the recovery schemes and support available following flooding in parts of the UK.
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UK floods: anger in Somerset at 'damn people in London'

Flood warnings are still in place and more tidal surges are expected tomorrow, but in Somerset residents are angry at the Environment Agency. .Sign up for Sn...
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Severn estuary flood plan from Environment Agency under scrutiny in ... - Western Daily Press

Severn estuary flood plan from Environment Agency under scrutiny in ... - Western Daily Press | as geography rivers | Scoop.it
Western Daily Press
Severn estuary flood plan from Environment Agency under scrutiny in ...
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UK FLOODS - Large Parts of UK UNDER WATER as River Thames Bursts its Banks

SUBSCRIBE for Latest on UK FLOODS / EXTREME WEATHER / FREEDOM / NEW WORLD ORDER / ELITE AGENDA http://www.Youtube.com/AgendaNWO UK FLOODS - Large Parts of UK...
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Sidmouth, Devon, UK floods

Torrential flooding in Sidmouth on 7th July 2012. The River Sid burst it's banks causing a deluge of water to flood the Byes and other areas. Further images ...
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Flood protection restored for thousands across England - BBC News

Flood protection restored for thousands across England - BBC News | as geography rivers | Scoop.it
BBC News
Flood protection restored for thousands across England
BBC News
The Environment Agency (EA) said that 350 flood defences and other protections have been repaired in England this year.
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Bangladesh's once welcome floods are now harbingers of disaster

Bangladesh's once welcome floods are now harbingers of disaster | as geography rivers | Scoop.it
Floodwaters that used to create fertile ground for rice crops have become violent and random – with catastrophic consequences, reports Alex Renton

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