Future Cities
July 11, 2019 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Tom Crowther's lab at ETH Zürich has put together an analysis of how the climate of global cities will change by 2050.
posted by They sucked his brains out! (8 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
It's pretty overwhelming thinking about how much we have to change about our cities for them to remain livable. I would like to see more houses with heat pumps for cooling and heating and architecture that accommodates the local climate so there's less need for heating and cooling. And of course, absolutely no cars within cities themselves.

The water management is going to be real tricky - we're going to have a lot of boom and bust going on, so we'll need to try to store up water for the dry times and also minimize use. And we have to deal with our impervious surface problem that causes so much flooding during big events. Luckily, building greenspace with things like swales will both help with the water management and cool cities. And there's plenty of room for it once we stop giving more than half of our real estate to cars.
posted by congen at 10:47 AM on July 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Nice "analysis." I like the white text sliding over full color pictures. Let me know if they do a text version so I can actually read it.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 12:13 PM on July 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Let me know if they do a text version so I can actually read it. I think it's Understanding climate change from a global analysis of city analogues. Via Claim: Northern States to have Global Warming by 2050.
posted by StephenB at 12:37 PM on July 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

I don’t love the comparison method of communicating, e.g. “Charlotte will feel like Memphis” or whatever. There’s just too much room for people to be all “huh. That’s not so bad?” or “I have no idea where Canberra is or what it feels like there”.

Just, if the idea is to communicate that your local climate is gonna be a whole lot hotter, comparing it to other current locations inhabited (presumably mostly comfortably in many cases) by people doesn’t really get to the Apocalyptic Reality of the matter.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:18 PM on July 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

They should remove mean temperatures from that graph tho' as it's the maximums that we (and our life support) will have to survive in. When we studied the main thrust re using data was "look for the outliers and design to that".

congen, if we start thinking with water and solve for water, I believe we can solve all other problems, yet so many solutions start with other ill-thought out 'fundamentals'.

For instance water storage and stormwater detention are two sides of the same coin e.g. it's routine in Georgia to have porous road surfaces; the tech is hardly rocket science and it largely removes piped stormwater networks and all of their associated maintenance, so a huge cost reduction. Too you get the benefit of local water detention\storage beneath the road bed where it can flow out to groundwater and become available for plant growth. It also results in local humidity changes of benefit to people e.g ..Cool Pavement Strategies

A paper worth looking at re urban stormwater (and lets face it, the Earth system is becoming largely urban) Making the Case for Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems as a Nature-Based Solution to Urban Flooding/ (pdf book chapter) "SUDS were found to offer cost savings of between approximately 10% and 85% as compared to traditional drainage approaches".

That'd be my experience on the economics of this too. BUT this doesn't make developers and cities rush to change, altho' they will do almost anything to shave 1% off costs but not when it comes to caring for the Earth, as doing so recognizes that what we've been doing is flawed - Fragile mentalities lead to fragile ecologies.

Yeah, ETH isn't perfect but they are also one of the few institutes leading the way to sustainable futures - A World of construction without cement

posted by unearthed at 3:32 PM on July 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

The paper is worth clicking through; if nothing else, there's a spreadsheet you can download that has the similarity between each city and itself in the future as well as the three best matches. They describe the global nature as being better than similar work that's continent-level (eg USA or Europe-specific) but it's only more useful as a comparison if you understand both cities that are being compared.

Looking at the three best matches can provide another comparison point; Virginia Beach's best comparison is Podgorica, which might not be as helpful for most as the second best comparison, Houston. I looked up Calgary and Lanzhou is meaningless to me. But the third and fourth best comparisons are Denver and MInneapolis, which I can sort of relate to. (The second best comparison for Calgary in 2050 is Calgary today, which may speak less to climate change not being a problem and more to the lack of major cities between Calgary and Denver.)
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 4:25 PM on July 11, 2019

Yeah, ETH isn't perfect but they are also one of the few institutes leading the way to sustainable futures - A World of construction without cement

There's a recent news item in Nature about how we're running out of sand. If I remember correctly, it is the most used natural resource, before water, and ahead of fossil fuels. When Greenland's ice melts away, there may be huge economic pressure to sell the sand that lies underneath.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 6:35 PM on July 11, 2019

We are not going to have a global sand trade if Greenland melts. We will be lucky to have economies at all if Greenland melts.
posted by congen at 11:52 AM on July 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

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