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🗣️ "Maladaptation: The Unforeseen Impacts of Climate Adaptation"

The Carbon Copy

Photo by Vlad Tchompalov / Unsplash

Host: Stephen Lacey
Guests: Alex Harris | Climate Change Reporter | Miami Herald &
Lisa Schipper | IPCC Report Author
Category: 🗣️ Opinion | Maladaptation

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[0:28] SL: “[The] phenomenon called sunny day flooding […] is very disorienting, [when you are] walking through the streets and chin deep water on a gorgeous day. And as sea levels rise, this kind of flooding is becoming increasingly common in cities like Miami.

[0:43] AH: “It is astonishing for most people to look down and watch over the course of several hours, water completely fills a street when there's no rain anywhere, no broken water main, no nothing. And that's just the result of really high tides driven even higher by sea level rise.”

[1:28] SL: “Last month brought another UN Climate report, it was yet again another dire climate report. And it cited Miami sunny day floods as an example of climate impacts that are hitting cities today. […] But the report also referenced a concept that many people are not used to, maladaptation. And it pointed to Miami's response to the floods as a case study.”

[2:23] AH: “The city of Miami specifically is going to have to spend around $6 billion in the next 20 or 30 years installing stormwater pumps, raising roads, making the pipes underneath the road big enough to handle all the extra water and fixing sea walls. And if they do it right, they create an area that people continue to invest in and live in for decades. And if they do it wrong, they doom parts of the city to be flooded and unlivable and uninvestable in the next 20 or 30 years.”

[4:35] LS: “Maladaptation is when adaptation to climate change, so efforts to try to adjust to the impacts of climate change, go really wrong and actually make people worse off. We don't know so much [about] how we can prevent it. But it's something that has taken quite a big spot in the IPCC report that just came out.”

[6:45] AH: “Miami Beach is the first community in the US to dramatically raise roads, we're talking three feet. And that has made a huge difference in the ability of some of these neighborhoods to weather floods. One neighborhood in Miami Beach known as Sunset Harbor, since they raised roads in 2018, […] avoided 157 tidal floods.”

[7:13] AH: “The millions of dollars that communities have spent building up sea walls and lifting buildings and installing storm water pumps has made certain areas much safer to live in. The problem is when you have a safer area like that, people with more money […] want to live [there]. And you're displacing low and middle class folks. […] We've always referred to that down here as climate gentrification. It was mentioned in the IPCC report as maladaptation.”

[7:45] SL: “In Miami Beach, specifically, property values went up after the roads were raised. The city paid for a study on the impact of these investments in combating flooding, and found that property values increased by 11%, which is great if you already own property, but for low and middle income renters, it could mean getting pushed out of the neighborhood.”

[13:13] LS: “There are three types of maladaptation strategies. There are the infrastructure ones, the institutional ones, and then the behavioral ones. And I would say that […] the infrastructure ones are probably the ones that are most challenging, because [there are] typically huge costs involved. […] There are some examples, especially from areas where you have people living in a lot of low lying coastal areas, such as Bangladesh or the Pacific Islands. […] In one case in Fiji, where you have a seawall that was built, but they didn't take into account the fact that it actually also rains and […] water needs to drain. And so what happened was on the inside of the wall, there was a lot of flooding […] and that created a new hazard for people”

[15:17] LS: “On the one hand, we have huge amounts of evidence that we're not doing adaptation right. On the other hand, we're telling everybody that the window of opportunity to act is now. […] So while we quickly quickly have to figure out what exactly have we been doing wrong, and how to fix it in terms of adaptation, we have to do it in a really short period of time. And I think that is the challenge: Do we move ahead quickly now, knowing that the clock is ticking, but recognizing these risks of maladaptation? Or do we take it a bit slower and implement things, when we have a little bit more knowledge? I would say we probably need to act now.”

Rating: 💧💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google
🕰️ 20 min | 🗓️ 03/22/2022
✅ Time saved: 18 min