The following blog post was written by guest blogger Claire Seigworth. Claire graduated with a B.A. in International Relations and a minor in Spanish Literature from Marquette University. She has traveled to many Latin American countries, studied in Santiago, Chile and worked in Panama for Global Brigades.
The United States and Mexico have recently made international headlines due to the disastrous flooding that has destroyed many buildings and killed many people. Because both of these floods were caused by natural disasters such as hurricanes and torrential rain storms, there is a feeling that not much can be done to prevent similar events in the future.
However, researchers from the University of Southampton recently published an article in the journal of Nature Climate Change which found that coastal cities may face flood losses nine times current levels by the year 2050 due to “climate change, population, and economic growth.” The study urges countries, especially in the United States and China, to start preparing now for flood management for future increases in sea-levels.
Flooding is not a unique problem, but the Netherlands is a great example of how to prepare and manage for water flow. The Netherlands is particularly flood prone as much of it is at or below sea level. Over the centuries, the Dutch built dikes and dams to redirect water from storms and prevent flooding damage. However, a new philosophy to flooding has been implemented in the Netherlands. Facing rising sea levels, the Dutch are starting to allow controlled flooding by creating spillways. This new approach is by no means uncontroversial because in order for spillways to be built, other property and people need to be relocated.
These policies have caught the attention of U.S. politicians, especially on the east coast due to hurricane Sandy. Governor Cuomo is trying to incentivize people to move from their homes and then the government would repurpose the land to act as a storm barrier. While creating a plan to deal with this flooding is difficult and controversial, the cost of doing nothing is even greater.