Neighborhood Form and Extreme Weather Events

Adapting to extreme weather events resulting from climate change has largely taken the form of infrastructure engineering, e.g building flood doors for subways or reinforcing sand dunes, but what of 'social adaptation' for residents themselves?

In the abstract to "Adaptation", professor of sociology at New York University, Eric Klinenberg writes on the need to “climate-proof” cities —"protecting people, businesses, and critical infrastructure against weather-related calamities."

"Increasingly, governments and disaster planners are recognizing the importance of social infrastructure: the people, places, and institutions that foster cohesion and support.

Klinenberg "discusses, at length, the case of a deadly 1995 heat wave in Chicago, during which people living in neighborhoods with stronger social networks fared better than people who lived in comparable, but less socially cohesive, neighborhoods."

To access the article itself, one needs a New Yorker subscription or the Jan. 07 edition.  However, he discusses his findings with National Public Radio's Steve Inskeep on 'Morning Edition" on January 3.

Klinenberg describes a 'socially cohesive neighborhood' essentially as being walkable with small-scale retail that "draws older people into public life". The two neighborhoods he compares are adjacent, poor, "nearly identical" and have many older residents. The walkable neighborhood had fewer deaths from the heat wave, and whose residents have longer life expectancy, showing that social infrastructure made a difference in residents' lives regardless of extreme weather.

Audio and podcast available.

Full Story: ADAPTATION - Dept. Of Urban Planning, Abstract: How can cities be “climate-proofed”?

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Irvin Dawid's picture
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Grist Analysis Of Climate-Proofing

"Climate-proofing cities: Not something conservatives are going to be good at"
a great, insightful piece by David Roberts on Eric Klinenberg's study.

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