The Southwest’s Drought and Fires Are a Window to Our Climate Change Future
The future of the fastest growing region of the United States, the Southwest, will be shaped by a new and different climate reality. And that is going to present big challenges. The Earth’s atmosphere has reached its highest concentration of carbon dioxide in history. That buildup is a major factor in the growing number of more intense fires and droughts. Environmental engineers and scientists are predicting those dramatic events could become more frequent and severe as climate change progresses. Fulton Schools Professor Mikhail Chester, director of ASU’s Metis Center for Infrastructure and Sustainable Engineering, and other experts say current designs for our infrastructure systems don’t adequately address difficulties that will be presented by the emerging extreme climate conditions. The rise of the heat-island effect and similar climatic alterations could threaten power systems, water systems and the stability of communities. Chester and others say our society has long gotten away with planning, designing and building things for a relatively stable environmental reality. But today and in the future — especially in places like the Southwest — we need to become flexible in responding to rapidly changing ecosystems.
See Also: Activist Group Says U.S. Insurers Trying to Weaken Climate-Related Regulations, Insurance Journal, May 12
Mikhail Chester comments on the critical need to respond to climate change challenges in the design and construction of new infrastructure projects.