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Over the Sea Wall

New book illuminates the hidden dangers in apparently easy solutions to climate problems
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Giant wave crashing into cliff and lighthouse in Nazare, Portugal after major Atantic storm

In March 2011, people in a coastal Japanese city stood atop a seawall watching the approach of the tsunami that would kill them.

They believed—naively—that the huge concrete barrier would save them. Instead they perished, betrayed by the very thing built to protect them.

When climate solutions backfire

Erratic weather, blistering drought, rising seas and ecosystem collapse now affect every inch of the globe. Increasingly, we no longer look to stop climate change, choosing instead to adapt to it.
Predictably, our hubris has led to unintended—and sometimes disastrous—consequences.

Academics call it maladaptation; in simple terms, it’s about solutions that backfire.

Over the Seawall, by Stephen Robert Miller, tells us the stories behind these unintended consequences and about the fixes that can do more harm than good.

Too big to fail?

From seawalls in coastal Japan and the reengineered waters in the Ganges River Delta to the artificial ribbon of water supporting both farms and urban centres in parched Arizona, Stephen Robert Miller traces the histories of engineering marvels that were once deemed too smart and too big to fail.

In each he takes us into the land and culture, seeking out locals and experts to better understand how complicated, grandiose schemes led instead to failure, and to find answers to the technologic holes we’ve dug ourselves into.

Working with nature

Over the Seawall urges us to take a hard look at the fortifications we build and how they’ve fared in the past.

It embraces humanity’s penchant for problem-solving but argues that if we are to adapt successfully to climate change, we must recognise that working with nature is not surrender but the only way to assure a secure future.

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