Yesterday, I took an early morning stroll through the city of Hamburg. Whilst it started to rain and to thunder I thought about how it would feel to witness an urban extreme weather event. This post is the result of the photos I took and the thoughts I had during the walk.
Generally, extreme weather events, such as heavy rain, heat waves, droughts or floods, are very likely to occur more frequently and way more intense than in the past. This dooming scenario is already a common projection. And yet to me it is very intangible. What will it feel like? How will it look like in a specific urban area? How will the citizens react? Where will I be when a severe storm is to come?
Of course there are some areas in the world that already face severe weather events such as typhoons on the Philippines. However, I grew up in a geographical setting that was lucky as far as I can remember. The city of Hamburg, in Northern Germany is located next to the river Elbe and with its’ harbour, channels and bridges the city has a very maritime flair. Now, that climate change evolves and results in complex threats, I feel a bit insecure regarding weather projections for intense storms or floods. What will change? How will the city look like after such an extreme event?
The word ‘extreme’ seems already so dooming towards something that we’ve never experienced before, something very apocalyptic and disastrous. If you take ‘event’ it implies a fix timeframe, rather short-term than long-term. Therefore, an extreme event will hit us very badly and yet just for a short time – maybe hours, maybe days. However, I am sure that the impact of such an event will last even longer. The consequences will thus be a challenge as well.
How will we cope with future weather? Are we going to built higher and thicker? Or is an evacuation the best idea? In the case of Hamburg, which is interveined by water bodies, wouldn’t it be great if we all get house boats?
Personally, I think the first step is that we start to realise: there will be changes and uncertainty. Therefore, we need to be prepared. Not only on the administrative or technological side, but on the individual and residential. Can you think of something, you would do when a storm is coming?
Firstly, I would check how much time there is left until the storm, then I would buy key supplies, like water or something to eat, maybe candles. Since, I imagine extreme weather events not be very enjoyable, I would look online or outside, if anyone needs shelter for the duration of the event.
The rest – time will tell.
At least one thing is certain: that the future is uncertain. That is why we should acknowledge the present, the current state. There are other days of more risks, natural forces and new challenges to come. I genuinely hope that all affected humans are going to be there for each other. In times of extreme weather events, we should not fight about the last roll of toilet paper in the local supermarket but rather share our resources, so that we all can enjoy the next dawn.