John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
A haunting photo exhibit shows the steps people are taking to adapt to the angry ocean.
As the global climate continues to warm, sea levels around the world are growing higher and higher. How will the millions who live on coastlines respond to this grave threat: Tax breaks for boat owners? Everybody moving to Nebraska? The spontaneous growth of dorsal fins?
With damaging floods and steamrolling storm surges, we're already getting a taste of what the havoc that swollen oceans can bring. And in a great-looking exhibit at L.A.'s Annenberg Space for Photography, we can see some of the unique, crafty, and sometimes frantic things that civilization is doing to cope with the looming waterworld.
"Sink or Swim," which opens December 13, is the rare disaster show with an uplifting twist. Its organizers want to highlight designers who are working to combat, or at least adapt to, the hazards of global warming. Annenberg commissioned photographers to document Japan's hugely expensive new sea walls (pictured above), a sustainable development project in post-Katrina New Orleans, and a stilt house-dwelling community in Benin that is experiencing nasty flooding. Of course, there are also disturbing images of carnage in the wake of Superstorm Sandy and Typhoon Haiyan, so we never lose sight of what could become frequent calamities if carbon emissions aren't drastically cut.
Here's a bit more detail on the exhibit:
In the face of increasing global attention on climate change and rebuilding in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Indian Ocean tsunami, Superstorm Sandy, and the Tohuko tsunami, Sink or Swim is a timely examination of resiliency strategies in architecture and design. Images range from highly complex coastal flood-mitigation in the Netherlands, controversial sea walls in Japan, to innovative homes and community buildings by leading architects including Pritzker prize-winners Thom Mayne, Toyo Ito and Shigeru Ban.
Below, find a selection of photos Annenberg shared with CityLab.