I agree with your analysis of the Klinenberg’s article in which he explains how cities need to prepare themselves for the inevitable effects of climate change the resulting natural disasters. His review of many natural disasters and the impact on various neighborhoods illustrates that a community’s lack of preparation can have devastating effects on the community as a whole. He goes into great detail about improvements in physical infrastructure in cities around the world that make great sense as they are more prepared to minimize the possible devastation of a natural disaster. The examples in Rotterdam are amazing and seem to have other benefits beyond just preparing for natural disasters. There are many ways a city can prepare itself physically for the effects of climate change. These can be easy improvements such as raising power sources above flood levels and using waterproof wiring to more expensive and complex changes such as raising the subway system and building a significant flood wall. As Klinenberg states, these improvements will take a commitment on both the state and national level. Since many Americans and politicians deny the existence of climate change, the investment of capital in preparing for its effects is not likely.
However, what was more interesting to me was Klinenberg’s analysis of the improvements in social infrastructure that can have significant effects on a neighborhoods ability to cope with a natural disaster. Basically, he was saying that the more socially cohesive a neighborhood is, the better prepared they will be to cope with a natural disaster. In socially cohesive neighborhoods, neighbors know each other and look out for one another. They are involved in community organizations and churches. They know each other’s names and they are invested in each other’s welfare. This became very important in Chicago during a heat wave. The closely knit neighborhoods had less fatalities than the less closely knit communities, and this difference transcended income levels.
Ideally, communities would be able to afford significant improvements to the physical infrastructure and also invest in developing the social infrastructure that will help the residents become closer. But unfortunately, as resources are scarce, improvements in social infrastructure are going to be more realistic as they are much less expensive to invest in. Not only will increasing the social cohesiveness of communities increase their ability to withstand the devastation of natural disasters, it will also improve the everyday quality of life of the residents.
The following article is a case study of a few neighborhoods and their ability to recover from Hurricane Sandy, based on their social cohesiveness.