Impacts and Responses
New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by Matthias Ruth, Kieran Donaghy and Paul Kirshen
Chapter 7: Climate’s Long-term Impacts on Urban Infrastructures and Services: The Case of Metro Boston
P. Kirshen, M. Ruth and W. Anderson
P. Kirshen, M. Ruth and W. Anderson INTRODUCTION Infrastructure provides human, environmental and economic services and directly contributes to the quality of life. Services typically include flood control, water supply, drainage, wastewater management, solid and hazardous waste management, energy, transportation, constructed facilities for residential, commercial, and industrial activities, communication and recreation. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE 1998) estimates that in 1992 the total value of US infrastructure investments was approximately 40 percent of GDP and in 1982 was as high as 55 percent of GDP. However, as significant as these values are, they barely begin to reflect the true value of infrastructure. Without infrastructure the US economy could not function. Many human and environmental systems would collapse. Quality of life would be poor. Since most human and economic activities in the US are and will be associated with areas of high population densities, metropolitan infrastructure systems and the services they provide are particularly important in order to achieve and maintain a high quality of life. Yet even though urban infrastructure systems are important and are designed according to socioeconomic and environmental conditions that are very sensitive to climate, there have been no major integrated assessments of the impacts of climate change on metropolitan infrastructure systems and services in the US. The Climate’s Long-term Impacts on Metro Boston (CLIMB) project conducted from 1999 to 2004 explores potential changes in infrastructure systems and services in Metro Boston in response to changes in climate, socioeconomic and technological developments. Potential changes play...
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