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December 1, 2012Patrick NunnallyUncategorizedComments Off on Resilience

It’s been about a month now since Hurricane Sandy walloped (great word there—haven’t gotten to use it since I was a sportswriter as an undergraduate!) the New York City region and spread devastating impacts across most of the northeastern quarter of the United States.  Immediate post-storm analysis touched on a number of topics important to our work, including climate change, water and cities, water infrastructure and resilience.  Some of the more thoughtful reflections include:

Think “sustainability” and “resilience” mean the same thing?  Then you should read this piece from The Atlantic Cities on how the important distinction between the terms comes to light in Sandy’s aftermath.

The Sustainable Cities Collective suggests that wetlands may be an important buffer, especially in places where residential construction on former wetland areas has left residents particularly vulnerable.

Should we think of cities as perhaps becoming more “absorbent”?  Next American City explores the options for “soft infrastructure” as a response to climate threats.

The New York Times’ “Dot Earth” blog offers a thoughtful, well-linked look at the city and resilience issues.

We’ve come to expect good thinking from Kaid Benfield at the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sustainable Cities Collective.  Once again, he doesn’t disappoint; his post on different economic, policy, and scientific contexts for Superstorm Sandy is a broad-ranging coverage of the subject.

Finally, as a reminder that the issues raised by the storm, its impact and aftermath are complicated and must be thought of in a “real world” of budgets and policies, Next American City explores the question of how, exactly, New York City might build a protective levee.  Hint:  the Corps of Engineers won’t do it for you.

We are reminded by storms like Sandy and its aftermath that stories of resilience in the face of natural disasters are important parts of the broader agenda of living sustainably with the natural systems that, in turn, sustain us.   Stories of Memphis floods in 2011, New York hurricanes in 2012, and of the drought that affects water transportation across so much of the country are all part of this global challenge.  Solutions are being developed across an array of professional sectors, from urban planning and design to hydrology to the ethnographic inquiries into traditional ways of understanding our place in the world.  The need is great and is unfortunately continuing to grow; we should be open to answers wherever they can be found.

The half dozen stories mentioned above are of course only a small sample of the information that is available on urban systems, water systems, resilience, and the like.  What are you reading?  Send us a note, or post a comment recommending a good source!


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