Hidden beneath the asphalt, miles of tubes snake through our cities. You can’t see it, but this infrastructure plays a huge role in how municipalities handle everything from wastewater to the H2O that streams from your tap. Despite its importance, much of the United States’ water infrastructure is outdated. Consider this: More than 750 cities in the United States still rely on combined sewers, a water management system that uses the same pipes to handle storm water, sewage, and industrial wastewater. During times of high flow (rain storms, for instance), water can exceed the tubes’ capacity and discharge into rivers, streams, or the ocean, creating some serious implications for water quality and human health.
This year the world’s power stations, farms, cars and the like will generate the equivalent of nearly 37 billion tonnes of waste carbon dioxide. All of it will be dumped into the atmosphere, where it will trap infra-red radiation and warm the planet. Earth is already about 0.85°C warmer than last century’s average temperature. Thanks to the combined influence of greenhouse-gas emissions and El Nino, a heat-releasing oceanic phenomenon, 2016 looks set to be the warmest year on record, and by a long way.
When we think of the future of transport, we have a tendency to picture a world in which people fly around on personal jetpacks and cars drive down streets stacked several stories high with levitating traffic.
Last year 15 catastrophic weather and climate events struck, destroying property, uprooting people’s lives in the United States, causing more than $15 billion in damages. Devastating natural disasters also rolled across the globe. Earthquakes hit northeast of Rome in January and in Ecuador last spring. The devastation is unimaginable. People are left without running water or electricity for weeks on end. Hospitals and schools are closed. Water treatment centers shuttered. Power is one of the most important things needed to move down the path of recovery.