Michael Kimmelman’s front page story Dutch Face Rising Seas in the New York Times is a must-read for anyone concerned about the rising threat to US coasts, coastal cities, islands and deltas around the world.
The Dutch were masterful ocean-going merchants and traders for centuries. Today they are successfully marketing their know-how in managing water, floods and severe weather to clients all over the world. The U.S. especially should be taking note.
Henk Ovink, a Dutch expert on rising water and climate change, says, “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.”
Rotterdam in Kimmelman’s story is an exemplar of national Dutch policy that includes:
- Managing climate change head-on
- Learning to live with water
- Reinvention is key – reimagining neighborhoods, harbors and waterfronts
- Technological marvels such as the Delta Project, with its Maeslantkering barrier gates
Arnoud Molenaar, Rotterdam’s climate chief, says in the Times, “ A smart city has to have a comprehensive, holistic vision beyond levees and gates.” That checklist includes sewers, roads, housing, safety , emergency services.
The ideas and innovations are seemingly endless
- Closing of the Zuider Zee to create new land (polder) for communities, a nature reserve (Oostvaaardersplassen) and thwart storms and flooding from ravaging farmland and smaller communities.
- Floating houses that can be raised with hydraulics
- Floating farms: a 40-cow dairy herd is being developed as a prototype floating farm
- A kilometer-long park with recreation, fun and quiet spaces – atop a barrier that protects from the sea
- Rooftop development
Green News Update created a 4-part series in 2013 on “rising waters” that features many examples – from the Dutch and other innovators – of urban development, coastal protection and innovations to deal with highly susceptible delta areas. See also our story on Dutch Know-How.
Rising Waters and Resilience is a theme Green News Update will be pursuing again this year with feature stories and resources.