Academic: Miami Building Collapse an “Early Warning” of Climate Change

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to Visiting Lecturer in Sustainable Development Ran Boydell, The horrific collapse of the condo building in Surfside may be a warning of things to come, if we don’t reduce CO2 emissions.

Most buildings were designed for an earlier climate – here’s what will happen as global warming accelerates

July 3, 2021 1.29am AEST
Ran Boydell
Visiting Lecturer in Sustainable Development, Heriot-Watt University

Climate change will affect every aspect of our lives – including the buildings we live and work in. Most people in the US, for example, spend about 90% of their time indoors. Climate change is fundamentally altering the environmental conditions in which these buildings are designed to function.

Architects and engineers design buildings and other structures, like bridges, to operate within the parameters of the local climate. They’re built using materials and following design standards that can withstand the range of temperatures, rainfall, snow and wind that are expected, plus any geological issues such as earthquakes, subsidence and ground water levels.

When any of those parameters are exceeded, chances are some aspect of the building will fail. If there are high winds, some roof tiles may be ripped off. If, after days of heavy rain, the water table rises, the basement might flood. This is normal, and these problems cannot be designed out entirely. After the event has passed, the damage can be repaired and additional measures can reduce the risk of it happening again.

The tragic recent collapse of an apartment building in Miami in the US may be an early warning of this process gaining speed. While the exact cause of the collapse is still being investigated, some are suggesting it might be linked to climate change.

Whether or not the link to climate change proves to be true, it is nevertheless a wake up call to the fragility of our buildings. It should also be seen as a clear demonstration of a critical point: wealth does not protect against the effects of climate change. Rich nations have the financial clout to adapt more rapidly and to mitigate these impacts, but they can’t stop them at the border. Climate change is indiscriminate. Buildings are vulnerable to these impacts no matter where in the world they are, and if anything, the modern buildings of developed countries have more things in them that can go wrong than simpler traditional structures.

Read more:

I tried to find Ran Boydell’s staff entry on the Heriot-Watt university website, but his name didn’t appear in my search.

As for Ran’s claim about the building collapse being caused by climate change. We are used to climate scientists trying to opportunistically attach themselves to any recent crisis, to push their fear mongering. But in my opinion trying to exploit the Miami building collapse, before the investigation has concluded, while people are still searching for bodies, sets a new low for this kind of behaviour.

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via Watts Up With That?

July 4, 2021 at 12:18PM

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