Climate change: Adapting to the inevitable?

Our environment-themed report considers the possible climate changes we may expect over the next 1,000 years due to continuing CO2 emissions.

The report recommends what engineers need to do to adapt to our future world so we can cope with these changes.

Man’s activities are causing the world’s climate to change rapidly. Although many nations will be able to cope with the impact of climate change in the short term (albeit at a cost), long-term, it will be a very different story.

However, as global emissions are not reducing and the climate is changing, the more pragmatic approach, as we have suggested, is that only by adapting our behaviour can we hope to secure long-term human survival. We have to look at how engineers might help our world to adapt to changes over the next few centuries.

The effects of temperature increase – the heart of climate change – will be felt globally. For developed countries, such as the UK, flooding and rising sea levels will be a massive problem – a seven-metre rise in sea levels would mean the abandonment of most parts of London which border the Thames ie Canary Wharf, Chelsea and Westminster. For developing countries such as Botswana there would be extreme social and economic issues.

Four areas of engineering are considered under the above climate scenarios: energy, water, buildings, and transport, and how they will need to be adapted to deliver a more resilient and robust adaptive management system.

Key recommendations

  1. Rising sea levels and increased flooding will require serious consideration of the viability of settlements, transport routes and infrastructure.
  2. To protect the welfare of its citizens governments must support climate adaptation.
  3. More research, development and investment in renewable energy sources is required to offset the loss of fossil fuels.
  4. We have to invest in carbon capture and storage technology.
  5. The industrialised world has to take the lead in taking responsibility for the economic needs of vulnerable nations.

Related links

Read our news article:
Institution responds to recent flooding and widespread infrastructure failure in parts of the UK


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