The Stream, July 26: Cities Around the World Contend With Flooding

The Global Rundown

Cement-scaping in the United Kingdom is adding to the country’s flooding problem. The centuries-old Forbidden City in China appears to be weathering its country’s intense flooding just fine. Other cities around the world, however, are paying the price of neglecting vital watersheds. An oil company is working to clean up its mess in central Canada. A cosmetics company in New Zealand is working to keep its plastic production down. A new water sampling technology out of Australia may advance the detection of pollutants. In southern Africa, millions are concerned La Niña may literally wash away their chance to climb out of famine cause by two years of drought.

“We are seeing all the indicators of a perfect storm coming toward us in southern Africa. We have an opportunity to move this boat in a different direction and avoid this storm.”–Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme. The WFP states it will need nearly $550 million in aid to assist 11.5 million people across seven affected countries by March 2017(LA Times)

By The Numbers

600 years Age of the infrastructure in Beijing’s Forbidden City which the Chinese government claims has allowed the massive site to quickly drain flood waters. Despite a recent severe storm, officials from the site also indicate it took in more than 30,000 visitors. The claims have prompted Chinese citizens to question why infrastructure from the 1400s is outperforming its modern day equivalents. BBC

60,000 Number of plastic bottles cosmetic company Ethique claims to have saved by using biodegradable packaging for its products. The company’s goal is to save 1 million bottles by 2020. Huffington Post

250,000 liters Amount of heavy oil dumped into the North Saskatchewan River after a Canadian company’s pipeline ruptured. Reports indicate 40 percent of the spilled liquid has been collected so far. A temporary 29-kilometer pipeline is being constructed to provide at-risk residents with clean drinking water. A senior Saskatchewan official has defended the use of pipelines in his province, calling it the safest way to move the crude. NPR

Science, Studies, And Reports

A University of Western Australia research team says it found a way to streamline stream sampling. Currently, testing a body of water for pollutants can be time consuming and costly. The process also requires that samples taken in the field be returned to a lab for analysis. However, the team has developed a new portable sensor that can detect multiple pollutants in real-time. Researchers expect their technology could be used to detect phosphorus and predict algae blooms, monitor acidification indicative of climate change, and perform numerous other functions. TreeHugger

On The Radar

An increase in urban sprawl in the United Kingdom is leading more and more citizens to pave over their lawns and gardens, replacing them with parking spaces. Backyards are also disappearing in favor of patios and decks. As a result, urban areas soak up less rain water, and flooding increases. Some citizens are beginning to advocate for greener neighborhoods, featuring more plants and porous surfaces to expedite drainage. The Guardian