Climate change: How technology is helping cities tackle climate disasters

Microplastics may be cooling—and heating—Earth’s climate

Like the ash spewed from a supervolcano, microplastics have infested the atmosphere and encircled the globe. These are bits of plastic less than 5 millimeters long, and they come in two main varieties.

Microplastic particles have settled on a stainless steel membrane after filtration in the laboratory of the Institute of Environmental and Process Engineering at RheinMain University. The specific dangers posed by microplastics or the even smaller nanoplastics – that is currently still the subject of research. But it is already clear that particularly small particles can penetrate cells and trigger reactions there. These nanoparticles are found in cosmetics, for example. (to dpa “Hessian scientists research microplastics”) Photo: Arne Dedert/dpa (Photo by Arne Dedert/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Fragments spawn from disintegrating bags and bottles (babies drink millions of tiny particles a day in their formula), and microfibers tear loose from synthetic clothing in the wash and flush out to sea. Winds then scour land and ocean, carrying microplastics high into the atmosphere. The air is so lousy with the stuff that each year, the equivalent of over 120 million plastic bottles fall on 11 protected areas in the US, which account for just 6 percent of the country’s total area.

In a study published today in the journal Nature, scientists have taken a first swing at modeling how the atmospheric particles could be influencing the climate, and it’s a strange mix of good news and bad…READ ON

Climate change: How technology is helping cities tackle climate disasters

To help avert crises, many cities have invested in technology – the theory being that if you can see the scale of the problem, you can start to work out what to do about it.

“Modern mapping techniques can help cities know which areas to prioritise for investment.”

So sensors measuring crowds, river levels and pollution have gradually become as much a part of our urban infrastructure as lampposts and traffic lights.

But despite the investment, we have seen significant flash flooding across the globe this year, including in cities such as London and New York. So does the technology work?

A so-called smart flood prevention system was in place in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou when rainstorms caused at least 302 deaths in July…READ ON

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