Climate change victims? Top U.S. cities (and why they need a smart city roadmap)

Tue, 2013-05-28 13:25 -- Jesse Berst

Grist is a publication that promises "environmental news, commentary, advice." They recently hired a standup comedian to compile a list of the 10 U.S. cities that will be hardest hit by climate change.

Dig past the relentless one-liners and you'll find some useful data about a very serious issue. Many cities are facing major problems, problems that will cause billions in damages. 

The Smart Cities Council doesn't believe that smart technology is the answer to any and every problem. Technology certainly can't prevent the storms, floods and droughts that are headed toward these 10 cities (and toward billions more people elsewhere on the globe). But smart technology can mitigate those disasters. Smart water networks can reduce the water lost to leaks and thefts, making it easier to withstand a drought. Predictive analytics can forecast exactly where flood damage will occur while there is plenty of time to evacuate (they have been using such a system in Rio de Janeiro since 2012). Smart grids can reduce outages due to storms and bring back power much quicker when they do occur.

So if you are a city leader in one of these 10 regions -- you now have even more reason to create a smart city roadmap, one that includes ways to mitigate the disasters you'll soon experience. And if you are a smart city supplier, you now have 10 cities that will soon badly need what you sell. -- Jesse Berst, Smart Cities Council Chairman

The cities on Grist's list don't share a lot of commonalities at first glance; Phoenix, Arizona and Barrow, Alaska seem like day and night in a lot of respects. But here's why Grist considers both climate change victims:

Phoenix, Arizona: "Unfortunately, this town of 4.5 million has been getting hotter by almost a degree a decade since 1961. In 2011 Phoenix had 33 days over 110. In heat like that, air conditioning is a life-and-death issue, and that A/C runs on America’s electric grid. That’s scary enough, but the power on that grid comes from dams on the Colorado River — the same shrinking river that wets Phoenix’s enormous whistle."

Barrow, Alaska: "The Inupiat people have been living in Barrow, one of the most unforgiving parts of the planet, for 1,500 years. Have you seen Thirty Days of Night? They fought off a whole army of vampires – and not the pretty-boy Twilight kind. But climate change is a more frightening enemy. The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the planet: Barrow’s ice is receding so quickly that the Mythical Northwest Passage has dropped the “Mythical” sobriquet, and traditional native foods are disappearing. The only thing thriving? Scientists, who arrive in droves to study the catastrophe."

Click here to read why Grist also put Louisville, Honolulu, Miami, San Diego, New York, the entire state of Texas, South Paris, Maine and Park City, Utah on its top 10 list -- and why hard-hit New Orleans is not on the list. (Hint: It's about the city's new $14.5 billion state-of-the-art levee system.)

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