The Triumph of the Engineers

The Triumph of the Engineers – Was Superstorm Sandy a wake-up call?

At their peak, flood-waters from Sandy crested in New York City at 14 feet above normal, leaving thousands homeless and millions without power. The damages may total over $40 billion dollars. Many are asking whether it is possible to adapt to increased storm risks due to rising sea levels and increasing urban density. The experiences of other coastal cities may prove instructive as city planners seek to adapt.

For decades countries have built storm barriers to protect against a storm surge. This brute-force approach is simple: keep the water out. In England, the Thames River has massive storm barriers that have been closed 75 times in the past 10 years. Venice has a series of underwater gates that can be raised to isolate the Venetian lagoon from the Adriatic Sea.

But these approaches can be overwhelmed by higher sea levels. Rather than keeping water out, some cities are finding ways to ride out the rising storms.

The Dutch have experimented by building floating houses. Some homes rise up to 20 feet, riding on buoyant hollow concrete foundations, while moored in place. They have their utilities—electricity, water, sewer—provided via flexible, hollow pipes. In Japan, urban engineers have burrowed deep under Tokyo to construct nine huge subterranean reservoirs, along with 15 massive catch-basins at street level that double as parks and stadiums during normal times.

These adaptations continue the tradition of engineering solutions to environmental problems—something we’ve been doing for millennia. It’s a testimony to human ingenuity—and to nature’s continuing challenges.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer

Follow me on Twitter @GlobalMarketUpd

By |2012-12-03T14:10:58+00:00December 3rd, 2012|Global Market Update, Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Mr. Tengdin is the Chief Investment Officer at Charter Trust Company and author of “The Global Market Update”. The audio version of each post can be heard on radio stations throughout New England every weekday. Mr. Tengdin graduated from Dartmouth College, Magna Cum Laude. He received his Master of Arts from Trinity Divinity School, Magna Cum Laude and received his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 1992. Mr. Tengdin has been managing investment portfolios for over 30 years, working for Bank of Boston, State Street Global Advisors, Citibank – Tunisia, and Banknorth Group. Throughout his career, Mr. Tengdin has emphasized helping clients manage their financial risks in difficult environments where they can profit from investing in diverse assets in diverse settings. - Leave a comment if you have any questions—I read them all! - And Follow me on Twitter @GlobalMarketUpd

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