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Worldcrunch

Turn Down The Heat - Seven Cities Threatened By Climate Change

The World Bank has recently published a report entitled "Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience."

Rising sea levels, heat extremes, aridity, impacts on ecosystems... Unsurprisingly, the news is not so good on the climate front, and the experts are raising the alarm. In the first Turn Down the Heat report published last year, the World Bank concluded that the planet would gain 4°C by the end of the century if no action is taken. But in the next 20 to 30 years, the latest report notes that the world already could heat up by 2°C. 

Bangkok 2011 floods - photo: Cpl. Robert J. Maurer

The effects on agriculture, rural habitats and small towns are vast and diverse. But as we've seen in recent years from Bangkok to New York and New Orleans, big cities are under threat as well. Here's a rapid ride across seven urban risks of global warming...

1. New York City Into The Storm

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UNITED STATES

2013-06-28 Read Later
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In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy - photo: DVIDSHUB

In June, the Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg issued a warning on climate change. According to the report, New York City will be particularly vulnerable to increasing temperatures, heavier rainfalls and stronger storms if nothing is done to limit climate change.

Between 1900 and 2013, sea levels in New York City rose about one foot, administration officials said, and the report estimates that more than 800,000 city residents will live in the 100-year flood plain by the 2050s.

The American metropolis could then be faced withmore events like Hurricane Sandy in the not-so-distant future.

 

Damage from Hurricane Sandy in Long Beach - photo: The National Guard

2. London Drowning?

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UNITED KINGDOM

2013-06-27 Read Later
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Even if London is not expected to drown in the next few years, it might be one of the first cities to suffer from climate change, a study from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme reported in 2010. 

One explanation is the accelerating melting of Arctic and Greenland ice, which will make sea levels rise from 0.9 to 1.6 meters by 2100.

Graffiti in Chalk Farm, London - photo: Matt From London

3. Ho Chi Minh City At Risk

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VIETNAM

2013-06-27 Read Later
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Like Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam is projected to be exposed to the effects of a 50 centimeter sea-level rise by 2070. An important growth of urban populations and GDP will also increase exposure to climate change impacts in this area.

Furthermore, heat extremes are particularly strong in urban areas like Ho Chi Minh City, due to the density of buildings and population. 

2008 floods in Vietnam - photo: haithanh

4. Bangladeshi Hotspot

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BANGLADESH

2013-06-27 Read Later
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Khulna, Bangladesh - photo Marufish

If no action is taken to stop global warming, Bangladesh will become one of the worst affected countries in the world, the World Bank says, with "increasing challenges from extreme river floods, more intense tropical cyclones, rising sea-level and very high temperatures." 

Highly concentrated urban areas are vulnerable in the eighth most populous country on earth with some 150 million inhabitants.

"While the vulnerability of South Asia’s large and poor populations can be expected to be reduced in the future by economic development and growth, climate projections indicate that high levels of local vulnerability are likely to remain and persist."

5. "Mountain Tsunamis" in Bhutan

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BHUTAN

2013-06-27 Read Later
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The Kingdom of Bhutan, tucked between India and China near the Himalayan mountains, is paying the price for global industrialization. North of the country, a chain of Himalayan glaciers are witnessing increasingly unstable rates of melting, which causes devastating floods. 

Western scientists call this phenomenon a glacial lake outburst flood, or GLOFWater flows from the melting glaciers until it breaks the natural ice dams that hold it in place. In 1994, a torrent of mud wiped out entire villages.

Haa Valley in Bhutan - Douglas J. McLaughlin

6. Famine In Niamey

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NIGER

2013-06-26 Read Later
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In the Sahel region, water is scarce and soil quality is poor, in part because of human activity. These difficult conditions have undermined agricultural production in the area and if the temperature keeps rising, the impact on the population could be extremely severe, with acute risks of famine in Niger's capital of Niamey.

   

"Drought has turned farmland into useless soil and sand" A farmer told VOA in drought stricken Niger during the 2005 famine. 

photo : Brian Padden

In 2010, Niger broke its record for highest temperature set in 1960 when the city Bilma hit 48.2 °C on June 23. The crops failed to mature in the heat and officials reported that diarrhea, starvation, gastroenteritis, malnutrition, and respiratory diseases had sickened or killed many children.

7. Bangkok Underwater in 2030?

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THAILAND

2013-06-26 Read Later
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2011 floods in Bangkok - photo: Voice of America

In 2011, Bangkok faced the worst floods it had seen in 50 years, which cost the lives of at least 600 people across the city. Being located below sea level and on swampy land, the Thai capital is one of the most vulnerable cities in the world when it comes to climate change.

The new report warns that if changes aren't made Bangkok could experience sea-level rise of some 40% by 2030, and as much as 70 percent by 2080.

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