Sourced from Global News
The cities of today were built to withstand the temperatures in our record books — and climate change doesn’t care about our record books.
Weather patterns are changing, heat waves are becoming more intense and our buildings, roads, rails and homes simply aren’t designed to handle all of it.
“We are having these 100-year events happening every two to three years now,” said Luna Khirfan, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo’s School of Planning.
Khirfan is one of many urban design experts who say it’s time to throw out the record books and build our cities to withstand more extreme temperatures in the future. That means incorporating more nature into our designs, giving up pretty but inefficient glass buildings and weaning ourselves off air conditioning, which only hastens global warming while allowing us to ignore its effects.
“Air conditioning is actually a maladaptation, not a good adaptation, because you’re contributing to emissions when you put your AC on,” Khirfan told Global News.
Even if we can’t give up air conditioning, she says there are many ways we can reduce our need for it by building better structures and city infrastructure.
However, the solutions can be very different from one city to another, according to Mattheos Santamouris, a professor of high-performance architecture at the University of New South Wales in Australia. Santamouris has spent decades showing dozens of cities how to save energy, build renewable infrastructure and protect themselves against the intensity of climate change.
“Solutions in a coastal city may be completely different from the solutions for a city in the desert or a city with very high humidity,” he told Global News.
Santamouris says cities that get proactive about mitigating climate change will reap the benefits in the future when more short-sighted cities will be looking for help.
“They will sell their technologies,” he said. “They will be the leaders.”
Here’s how today’s cities are failing us — and how our leaders can take steps to address the problem before it’s too late.