Adapting to Climate Change
Other interactions with climate may not have the dramatic consequences associated with natural disasters, but they still have significant consequences for urban life and functions. For example, changes in average and extreme temperatures, or in the intensity and length of seasons, can have a significant influence on such things as economic activities (for instance, tourism); productivity of workers; use of urban space for social interaction; comfort index; water supply, distribution and quality; and energy demand.
The broad range of such impacts on urban areas should trigger responses of adaptation that are suitable to local conditions and resources. Adapting to local physical geography and climate conditions has a significant impact on the types of construction and on the ways that urban areas are built. Adaptation to biophysical cycles also modifies land use within urban areas and defines the way a city grows.
Despite growing knowledge about these issues, we still lack a comprehensive perspective of how climate change contributes to shaping the built environment, or how the built environment should adapt to likely changes in prevailing temperature and precipitation regimes.
Institutions play a significant role in helping urban systems to cope with, and adapt to, the negative consequences of global environmental change. For instance, the creation of international networks of cities is a new and hopeful trend in attention to urban environmental issues.(22)These networks seek to facilitate the exchange of information and capacity-building at the local level on urban and environmental issues, and can also become politically influential at critical junctures.