In recent years, due to the constant change of climate, floods, droughts, landslides, and storms have frequented our earth, the only human habitat. Therefore, climate change has become one of the most important issues in many urban areas of many countries and it is a serious impact on them. There is half of the world’s population in urban areas and the proportion will increase rapidly in future years. Climate change is a mean state of the climate or in its variability, continue for a long period. Because of some negative factors, many areas are suffering detrimental effects. The essay outlines three problems caused by climate change and evaluates the effectiveness of mitigation, adaptation and planning strategies in addressing these issues. The essay argues that problems caused by climate change can be improved in urban areas in the world. However, the influence of those problems cannot be easily offset.
Climate change is occurring for many various causes. Firstly, natural disasters are the one of the most serious problems facing humans today. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNDP) reports that 75% of the world’s population lived in areas affected by natural disasters from 1980 to 2000 (UNDP 2004). Furthermore, floods, drought and more extreme hurricanes can lead to displaced millions of people. For example, there were terrible floods in the Yangtze Basin, China, in 1998 and 2002. In addition, sea level rise is also an important reason that will directly impact the disappearing land, agriculture production, large areas of migration and the city could be flooded.
Many large cities are located close to the coast, so these cities will probably be most affected by sea level rise. McGranahan et al. (2006 p.51) report that large urban settlements tend to choose low-lying coastal zones as their new habitats, and nearly 65% of huge cities which have over 5 million people are located in these zones. Other problems are some supplies of water resources and increasingly severe health issues, such as poor areas are short of medical treatment and other infrastructures, crowded living conditions resulting in shortage of water supply and primitive sanitation, and the climate change will probably exacerbate this. These three problems lead to facing a serious threat of nature.
Many methods should be found to mitigate the impact of climate change. Green house gases are mainly from vehicle emissions and energy discharge. As the rapid increase in the large number of private cars continues rising emissions of harmful gases lead to worsening air pollution. Governments can increase the number of public vehicles and clean energy to mitigate the influence on cities. At the same time, governments should invest in renewable energy, like solar, wind and hydro energy. For instance, Hong Kong has invested a new invention that is energy-efficient traffic lights. They just expend almost a third of the energy consumption and have a very long life. This can save nearly 8 million kilowatt-hour in electricity, reduce the cost to about $ 10,000, and also significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Adaptation is one the strategies which can effectively reduce the influence of climate change. According to UNDP (2012 p.127), across the region, a number of cities actively improve infrastructure to avoid people from being affected and boost the capacity of public institutions to protect with the most vulnerable residents. In Bangkok, there are some large scale engineering measures which were created to solve those problems, such as floodgates, dykes and drainage systems around the city that can be used to effectively reduce the negative impact on the centre of Bangkok. Furthermore, awareness of environment protection needs to be enhanced. For instance, Hunt, A. & Watkiss, P. (2011 pp.13-49) state that children can take part in kinds of projects, like tree planting, protecting water resource, as well as reducing waste, or the government can organise an awareness program for a week. This can largely improve the awareness of environmental protection of people.
Appropriate planning in order to solve the influence of climate change is another strategy, for example, UNDP (2012 p.141) argues that countries through the exchange of experiences and technologies can improve their own abilities. Moreover, city planners need to discuss about whether to invest in a more efficient fossil fuel power plant or renewable energy sources. However, this needs a large amount of financial support, otherwise, a lot of
policies cannot be properly implemented.
In conclusion, climate change is the cause of three main effects: natural disasters, rising sea level and less water supplies and health issues. A change can be made in many ways , such as increasing public transport, use of renewable energy, or enhancing people’s awareness of environmental protection. However, this require huge financial support which is a quite important issue.
UNFPA: State of the world population, 2007: Unleashing the potential of urban growth, Chapter 5, viewed 16 July 2013
Hunt, A. & Watkiss, P. 2011, ‘Climate change impacts and adaptation in cities: a review of the literature‘, Climatic Change, vol. 104, pp. 13-49. UNDP 2012, ‘Building Greener Cities’, Asia Pacific Human Development Resource, pp. 121-143.