Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – a city at risk from anthropogenic climate change

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This city is threatened by anthropogenic climate change in multiple ways: rising sea levels, an increase in storm intensification, localised flooding, more frequent heatwaves. These threats serve as a threat to human life and city infrastructure in general.

Rio is vulnerable because of rising sea levels. Projections have shown that if temperatures continue to rise, the sea level around the city will rise by 32 inches by the year 2100. This would result in:

  1. valued beaches being flooded (affecting the important tourism industry), the airport being flooded (affecting the city’s travel infrastructure),
  2. neighbourhoods at risk of flooding and landslides (making whole communities vulnerable),
  3. moreover, the city would be at risk of the spread of disease, resulting in a public health crisis.

To mitigate vulnerabilities in the city the local authority can relocate the population that is currently living in flood risk zones to safe zones. Furthermore, building regulations can be improved to limit further builder in new settlements which are projected to be at risk; urban sprawl in new settlements without any planning permission is already a problem in Rio. Education strategies can be adopted to improve public awareness – this can help the public to adapt to changes that are projected.

Various powerful stakeholders may object to some of the options suggested. For example, unregulated urban sprawl occurs on land that generally has limited economic value. Re-housing citizens into ‘safe zones’ could be objected by the landowners because their land may have more economic value used differently. Furthermore, groups from affluent neighbourhoods may object to populations from poorer neighbourhoods being moved, resulting in NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard).

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