Faced with a country on the brink of drowning, the Netherlands has decided to let the water in.
As rising sea levels threaten to put the world’s coastal cities underwater, the Netherlands are on the forefront of water management technology. The Dutch are changing infrastructure to prepare for climate change and the idea is simple: let the water in. From their perspective, global warming is an opportunity to strengthen the state and community.
Sea levels are rising as a result of thermal expansion and melting glaciers. Dutch experts have devised a type of irrigation system that serves as an investment. The idea relies on designing public fixtures— ponds, lakes, parks, garages, and plazas— that double as fully equipped reservoirs to accommodate runoff and spill-over from ocean and rivers.
A recent New York Times article highlights the innovative perspectives offered by the leading Dutch team who has made climate change into a profitable business. “You can say we are marketing our expertise, but thousands of people die every year because of rising water, and the world is failing collectively to deal with the crisis, losing money and lives,” Henk Orvink told the NYT.
In the Netherlands, rising sea levels are a very real threat. Author Kimmelman writes in his article, “Water has been the central, existential fact of life in the Netherlands, a daily matter of survival and national identity. No place in Europe is under greater threat than this waterlogged country on the edge of the Continent. Much of the nation sits below sea level and is gradually sinking.”
The Netherlands is capitalizing off its positive attitude toward global warming, and creative strategies to manage water and reduce coastal fall off. Climate researchers and engineers are flying in from all over the world to tour the port city of Rotterdam. Many end up hiring a Dutch design firm to lead building projects.
“Environmental and social resilience should go hand in hand, officials here believe, improving neighborhoods, spreading equity and taming water during catastrophes. Climate adaptation, if addressed head-on and properly, ought to yield a stronger, richer state,” said Orvink.
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