Monday, December 16, 2013

How Does Population Dynamics Affect the Vulnerability and Resilience of Cities to Climate Change?

The Demography of Adaptation to Climate Change(204 page pdf, Martine, George and Daniel Schensul (eds.), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), IIED and El Colegio de Mexico, Oct. 2013)

Also discussed here:  (1hr 49 min You-Tube, Woodrow Wilson Center, Oct. 2, 2013)

Today we review a comprehensive and up to date book on population trends and dynamics and how they affect the resilience and vulnerability of cities to climate change, the vulnerability of coastal cities to storms, cities in drylands to water shortages and how urbanization and sprawl combine with a lack of mobility to affect the poor, especially during severe climate events which may occur at greater frequencies. Although the focus is on urban areas in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, many of the conclusions or predictions apply equally well to highly developed countries, such as after Hurricane Katrina where the New Orleans poor could not afford fuel to flee disaster even if they had cars. “Climate change is a spatial phenomenon” but the link with urban population vulnerability is hampered because censuses are based on administrative divisions, not environmental risk which is becoming more definable by the advent of Geographic Information Systems and satellite mapping imagery. urban pop in africa asia la  

Key Quotes:

“Mobile populations have more adaptive capacity, to the extent that mobility is a component of adaptation by way of reducing exposure”

“The high estimates of international climate migrants have been largely dismissed as unfounded by migration researchers … this crisis narrative is ideologically rooted and obscures more legitimate concerns about how the burdens of climate change are being distributed”

“in 2005, about 40 million inhabitants (about a tenth of the total population in these port cities) were exposed to one-in100 year coastal flood events…by 2070, climate change, subsidence, population growth and urbanization would increase this figure to about 150 million.”

“Overall, drylands cover 40 per cent of the world’s land area and, in 2000, contained about a third of the world’s urban population and also about a third of its rural population”

“densities in the built-up urban areas declined at about 2 per cent a year, though with a small but significant decline in urban fragmentation..more densely settled cities are likely to emit less carbon than otherwise comparable low-density cities. Concentrated settlements also create opportunities for increasing resilience to climate change”

“supporting migration as adaptation to climate change can only be successful if the context-specific links between migration and vulnerability are also addressed.”

Urban areas are, on the whole, more resilient to climate variability because they favour economic productivity, the generation of employment and, on the aggregate, greater access to social benefits—all of which enhance the capacity of urbanites to adapt to climate change… urban areas are adding growing masses of population groups that are often the most vulnerable to climate change—the urban poor in exposed areas”

“The collision course between massive traffic problems and increasingly violent climatic events as a result of global climate change presages a magnification of the progressively more severe man-made ‘natural’ disasters in large Brazilian cities. Already, flash floods periodically wash away cars and pedestrians caught on lower-level street areas, while also invading households and buildings in the area.”
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