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  • Chip Nyborg

Climate change and Elevators

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” – Albert Einstein

As scientists, sociologists, environmentalists, governmental planners, military planners and politicians bicker, and wile away the time to protect our coastal cities, what will the private sector do to prepare and mitigate coastal flooding from rising seas, tides, and rainfall? Who will decide which property to protect and include within the barrier walls and irrigation systems? What will those who live and work near and outside the barrier walls do? Move, revolt, ride it out?

Will the citizens outside the barrier walls move inland? Will they start their lives anew? Will they move their businesses? Establish homes, schools, hospitals? Which existing inland cities are capable of expanding to accommodate the coastal exodus.

Seems to me the government will justify pouring 100’s of billions to protect a few key coastal cities under the guise of national security, while the private sector moves and builds new buildings and structures in and around inland cities that have core pieces in place to handle the influx of workers, students, families etc. Already the private sector has taken steps to minimize costs while preserving income generating capabilities. Today empty buildings and entire floors in buildings in and around major metropolitan areas sit ready for the catastrophe. These facilities are fully furnished with computers, servers, copiers, telephones, desks etc. ready to go at the turn of a switch.

The land within the barrier will become even more exclusive and expensive. Zoning and building codes will change to increase the density of living and working space, thus taller buildings. Taller buildings may in fact include office, living, education, medical and entertaining features. In theory there will be less exterior transportation requirements, less carbon emittance when entire communities could reside in one structure.

How will elevator systems evolve to handle larger and multifaceted buildings? Due to the cost of the space it is doubtful that adding more elevators will in and of itself address the needs of a building that acts as an entire community. Perhaps faster and more intelligent elevator systems are going to rule the day, freeing valuable building space. How will these elevators cope with more intense wind, snow, rain, water infiltration? Will traditional peak demand times continue, will there be more peak times or less? Will roof tops be used for helicopters, power generation, emergency power, communication, and evacuation technologies thus potentially limiting space for elevator machine rooms?

The second half of the 21stCentury sounds lucrative for engineers, architects, builders and contractors, while anxious for the masses as they decide to stay within the barrier or leave for the hinterlands sort of medieval like – castles and moats.

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