Year 4, Month 10, Day 20: What Can A Poor Boy Do?

The Washington Post seems determined to atone for years of George Will columns. Here’s a perspective on climate change as it’s going to hammer cities, based on a new study in Nature:

Climate scientists sometimes talk about something called “climate departure” as a way of measuring when climate change has really changed things. It’s the moment when average temperatures, either in a specific location or worldwide, become so impacted by climate change that the old climate is left behind. It’s a sort of tipping point. And a lot of cities are scheduled to hit one very soon.

A city hits “climate departure” when the average temperature of its coolest year from then on is projected to be warmer than the average temperature of its hottest year between 1960 and 2005. For example, let’s say the climate departure point for D.C. is 2047 (which it is). After 2047, even D.C.’s coldest year will still be hotter than any year from before 2005. Put another way, every single year after 2047 will be hotter than D.C.’s hottest year on record from 1860 to 2005. It’s the moment when the old “normal” is really gone.

A big study, just published in the scientific journal Nature, projected that the Earth, overall, passes climate departure in 2047. The study also projects the year of climate departure in dozens of specific cities.

Dancing In The Streets! October 10:

Cities everywhere will need lots of preparation for a climate-changed future. Some aspects are easily predicted — bridges, drainage, power grids and communications networks must be strengthened with multiple levels of redundancy, so that extreme conditions can’t cripple an entire urban society overnight. But there is another, more subtle kind of infrastructure that also needs reinforcement.

Cities contain hundreds of interdependent neighborhoods, all with their own micro-cultures, mores, and local economies. Community centers, boys and girls clubs, volunteer groups, and block associations form the social systems that can make or break a city’s survival in difficult times. Just as nations anticipating millions of climate refugees must strengthen diplomacy and border security, cities must invest in nurturing healthy and resilient communities. Parks, civic spaces, arts and education programs are not frills, but necessities, if we want to avoid a worldwide and never-ending “long, hot summer” of dystopian urban collapse and violence.

Warren Senders