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Truth is Powerful

The Slow Bake of Our Infrastructure

5

A SNCF employee checks the temperature of the railway tracks outside the railway station in Bordeaux, southwestern France, on June 15, 2022 as a heatwave hits France. Credit: As England, Spain and huge swaths of the U.S. deal with record-shattering high temperatures, the time has come to stop looking at heat and heat waves as temporary inconveniences. As the climate warms, heat waves have become longer, more frequent and more deadly, at their worst killing thousands of people . With warnings that people are unsafe in houses without cooling systems, or that train tracks will buckle, and power and water systems will be compromised, we need to examine how well our infrastructures—the systems we’ve built to deliver critical services such as mobility, energy, water, and access to cooled space—are prepared for these new conditions. A mountain of evidence is emerging indicating that they are not, and that our ability to adapt infrastructures on large scales lags far behind how quickly the climate is changing. Failures are inevitable, and we need to be smarter about how we prepare for them.

As environmental extremes worsen, we must confront the reality that our infrastructures were designed for past conditions that no longer exist. […]

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