What it's about:
The story features Arlen Stawasz, a resilience specialist at the Boston office of Perkins & Will and lead member of the firm's Resilience Lab unit. The question posed was how to meet the various water crises hitting the planet, from monster floods and droughts to sea level and quality issues.
Stawasz makes the point that the coming climate impacts will overwhelm whatever water infrastructure we erect to protect cities, and he encourages instead a dramatically different approach to adaptation, including an embrace of mass migration from coastal and other vulnerable regions.
Why it's noteworthy:
Living with Taura is particularly compelling because it is so counterintuitive. Those of us in the resilience field tend to
gravitate toward physical infrastructure solutions for such epic water threats, and here's a serious expert assuring us those are at best useful in the interim and that we must increasingly "be like water" and go with the flow, with which I wholeheartedly agree.
I also found his demeanor fascinating. Humble. Soft spoken. Tickled that his work would even be discovered. For a message so powerful, with such vast implications for society, that was quite a contrast.
His reasoning poses a crucial question for everyone in resilience, particularly in vulnerable islands and coasts.
As we spend billions of dollars and countless hours on physical pumps, barriers, tech, road raising and such, should we move far more aggressively toward retreat/relocation?
The science is practically guaranteeing that we will lose Miami, Manhattan, Shanghai, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and so
many centers of life and commerce. And many communities are, bless their souls, looking at retreat. But this is a far bigger scale than anyone is contemplating.
So, should we begin? Should we be drawing up plans for the relocation of far more islands and coasts? How smart is
it to spend all those billions on infrastructure that will be overrun by climate events in 10-20 years?
Read it on