Committee members of the World Federation of Engineering give an overview of how climate change is affecting their part of the world, what’s being done to reduce carbon emissions and how engineers can play a vital role.

Beijing airport
Beijing airport
Beijing Daxing International Airport is the first airport in the country that has a green concept throughout the entire process from standard setting, design, construction to putting into operation. Image credit: Beijing Institute of Architectural Design

This blog, curated by The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is the first of a series written by World Federation of Engineering WFEO committee members provide a snapshot of climate change impacts and solutions in their part of the world. Here Professor Jianping Wu of Tsinghua University and his colleagues Jing He and Xiaodong Guan give some insight into climate change in China…

At 12.51 p.m. on Tuesday 22 February 2011, a shallow, 6.3 magnitude quake occurred just 10 kilometres from the centre of Christchurch, New Zealand’s second-most populous city, killing 185 people and injuring several thousand. Only five months after a previous more powerful magnitude 7.1 earthquake, this earthquake occurred on a shallow fault line close to the city, so the shaking was particularly destructive. It caused the greatest ground acceleration ever recorded in New Zealand with extensive changes in ground level. …

The pioneering infrastructure project to upgrade Washington DC’s combined sewer system used green infrastructure to reduce capital cost and build resilience to future flood risk. DC Water, the District of Columbia’s Water and Sewer Authority, adapted the $2.6 billion-dollar project to incorporate $100 million dollars of green infrastructure.

Combined Sewage Overflow discharge point into the Potomac River, Washington, DC. Image credit: M.V. Jantzen. CC by 2.0.

Like many older U.S. cities, DC has a combined sewer system that was constructed in the 1870s. During heavy rainfall the capacity of the combined system can be exceeded, resulting in a mixture of sewage and stormwater discharging into DC’s river. In the early 2000s these overflows frequently reached such a high volume they violated the U.S. Clean Water Act. The situation was also expected to get worse as high rainfall events are expected to become more frequent in the future due to climate change. This necessitated an upgrade to the whole system.

An astrologer once told a young Cambridge medieval history graduate, Peter Willis, that his future work would involve ‘sitting in a circle with people’. Peter dismissed the astrologer’s prediction at the time as he was working selling rare maps and prints, not a circle of people in sight. However, his experiences volunteering as a Samaritans counsellor started pulling him in a different direction. Peter says, “I really enjoyed listening to people tell their stories, it had an extraordinary power. Clearly the conversation had an effect on them and on me. Since then, it’s gradually become part of who I am”…

When you go to your tap and turn it on, you know that water will come out, and you may take a guess that it comes from a lake, an aquifer or a cloud. But most people won’t generally have much understanding of what we call the ‘missing middle’. How that water gets pumped, treated, stored, shared, recycled and so on. Or how much energy it took just to fill up that glass of water.

Increasingly we forget or don’t understand the basic critical infrastructure on which our society depends. The missing middle is a way to describe an increasing…

How should engineers contribute to the urgent need for action on climate change, and the need for more resilience?

A powerful and committed group of founding organisations is driving a newly-formed global Coalition to take immediate action and is asking all those working across the infrastructure life-cycle to get involved.

The International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure (ICSI) hosted its 2020 Action Summit Plenary in April (15/04/2020) to update interested parties on its progress and propose next steps. …

Mapping the impact of COVID-19 to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is highlighting opportunities for change and areas for action. The Resilience Shift asked Jasper Hilkhuijsen and Tammy Tse to give us their perspective from driving the SDG Taskforce for Arup in East Asia and informed by their work in sustainability for the built environment.

The recent COVID-19 outbreak is sending shockwaves across the world and at this point it is far from clear how and when this disastrous pandemic will end. …

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