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Polluting Countries Will Cause Coastal Flooding

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Christian Aid has released a report that shows which cities are most likely to be hit by coastal flooding in the future. The report highlights that the biggest carbon polluting countries are most at risk. The United States of America, China and India top the list.

Act Now Or Pay Later: Protecting a billion people in climate-threatened coastal cities, shows that more than a billion people are set to be exposed to coastal flooding by 2060 through a combination of sea level rise, storm surges and extreme weather.

According to projections for the year 2070, supported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, India’s Kolkata and Mumbai top the list of cities whose populations are most exposed to coastal flooding, with 14 million and 11.4 million respectively. The first seven cities on the list are from Asia, followed by Miami at number eight.

Miami is also forecast to suffer the brunt of the financial losses from coastal flooding by 2070, topping a separate list with an eye-watering $3.5 trillion of exposed assets. The USA is likely to pay a hefty price for its world-leading per capita carbon emissions, as New York also comes in third with $2.1 trillion. China’s Guangzhou splits the two American cities with exposed assets of $3.4 trillion. In total, of the top 20 most financially vulnerable cities, half are from either of these two countries: four from the US, six from China.

Report author Dr Alison Doig, Christian Aid’s Principal Climate Change Advisor, said the figures should be a wakeup call ahead of next week’s World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on May 23 and 24.

She said: “We are facing a head on collision between the growth of coastal urban areas and climate change which makes coastal flooding more likely.

“This perfect storm is likely to bring about a heavy human and financial toll unless we do something about it.

“Cruelly, it will be the poor that will suffer the most. Although the financial cost to cities in rich countries will be crippling, wealthier people will at least have options to relocate and receive insurance protection. Evidence shows that from New Orleans to Dhaka, it is the poorest who are most vulnerable because they have the worst infrastructure and no social or financial safety nets to help them recover.

“There is a chance this horrifying vision of the future can be avoided. It is striking that the cities facing the most severe impacts are in countries with high contributions of carbon emissions. The first thing we can do is speed up the global transition away from dirty fossil fuels to the clean, renewably energy of the future.

“We can also do more to prepare for such occurrences. Spending money now on reducing the risk of disasters will save money and lives later. Such investment is a no brainer.”

Ahead of next week’s World Humanitarian Summit, UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon has called for the percentage of global aid spent on disaster risk reduction to be doubled to 1 per cent. This would bring the figure to $1 billion. Christian Aid is calling for a rise to 5 per cent.

Dr Doig added: “This billion dollars would go some way to help protect people in these cities now, and alleviate the threat for the billion vulnerable people at risk from coastal flooding by 2060.”

In another ranking the report lists which nations will have the most people living in exposed coastlines by 2060. China tops the list, followed by India and Bangladesh. The UK comes in 22nd.

Dr Doig said: “In the UK we’ve experienced in recent years the winter flooding that has left large parts of the country deluged. But these figures show that it’s not just more rainfall we need to be wary of. The people living along our coastlines will become vulnerable to rising tides unless we do something about climate change.”

The report goes on to examine how men and women are affected differently by climate related disasters, with women on the whole suffering more acutely.  It also shows examples of where Christian Aid is providing practical assistance to help the most vulnerable deal with the climate impacts they are already facing.

Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change and ranked 142nd out of 187 nations on the UN’s Human Development Index. But donations to Christian Aid are helping lift people away from the floodwaters.

Feroza Begum and her family are on the front line of climate change – their home was flooded multiple times and at one point was under water for 18 days. Thanks to help from Christian Aid partner organisation GUK their home and surrounding land was raised onto a sturdy plinth.

Feroza was also given livestock and climate resistant seeds so that she can diversify her income and become more resilient. She said: “Because of this plinth, I feel better. Now I have been able to make a small plantation and grow some vegetables. I am doing much better and feel much safer.”

Mark Watts, Executive Director of C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, said: “Seventy per cent of C40 cities are already experiencing the effects of climate change and it is coastal and delta cities that are the most at risk from the impact of a rapidly warming planet.

“Mayors are already acting to protect citizens from climate related floods and storms and they are learning from those cities that have pioneered efforts to adapt, such as Rotterdam and Ho Chi Minh City. Now is the moment to invest and adapt our cities to protect the billion vulnerable people and trillions of dollars in assets.”

Environment

Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations

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Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?

The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.

New Construction Options

One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.

In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.

The Simple Retrofit

From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?

Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.

Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.

Big Innovations

Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.

In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.

Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.

It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.

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Environment

How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions

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Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Public Health Crisis

It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Eco-Friendly Vehicles

It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.

Used Cars

Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.

Public Perception

With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.

Progress

The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.

With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.

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