Climate Change Adaptation: Use and Value of a Climate Buffer Area
Free (open access)
Volume 4 (2014), Issue 3
193 - 206
F. BAL & J.M. VLEUGEL
Most climate researchers agree that the changing world climate may irrevocably threaten life on our planet. It is no coincidence that water is involved in climate change, because the earth surface and atmosphere largely consist of water in different physical states and dimensions. Climate change becomes visible in less predictable and more severe weather conditions, like excessive rainfall and wind. These show up with a higher frequency and intensity, even in areas that never before experienced them. Seasonal patterns may fade or deepen and become more irregular. More sustainable human behaviour may on paper reduce the pace of or even reverse climate change. Widespread lack of such behaviour by a growing world population consciously replicating western-style consumerism makes it unlikely that real progress occurs in the foreseeable future. Comparable to an area like transport, only technical solutions may help to relieve the pressure. Water management has been used to allow humans to live safely on land for thousands of years. Many of the current water management systems are not up to the task anymore. Flooding of villages and cities is a growing global problem. Replacing out-dated systems is time consuming and very expensive, while political will seems hard to mobilize. But, if frequency and intensity of precipitation will stay at a higher level in future, cautious action is needed to prevent disasters. This paper will discuss a Dutch plan for a multifunctional area that would allow management of excessive water volumes. Adding a water retention area leads to higher investment costs, but benefits like enhanced protection may outweigh these higher costs. Given the unknown future risk and cost of flooding, damage costs may be much higher than assumed. From a no-regret perspective, it is wise to carry out projects, which currently have a (slightly) negative benefit-cost ratio.
buffering, climate change, economic valuation, rainfall