The urban solution to climate change and the Tigris Delta swamps

According to the latest estimates, the area of swamps in Iraq in Zi Qar province has shrunk from 20,000 km2 in the early 1990s to 4,000 currently. These are legendary swamps on the Tigris River’s flood plain, affected by global warming’s effects. In the very centre of Al-Chibayish, home to the millennia-old Arab swamp culture, only a few sections of ancient waterways have survived. According to the UN, it is the worst drought in this region in 40 years, and “70% of the swamps are already without water.”

During downpours exacerbated by climate change, Washington’s municipal sewer system overflows, combining storm and raw sewage in some areas. Instead of flowing into the sewage treatment plant, the toxic mixture of sediment and garbage is washed from the streets and ends up in rivers. The solution is to build rain gardens on the streets, parking lots and school buildings, where various plantings are made. Water captured by a rain garden percolates into the soil, evaporates or is absorbed by plants, and ultimately returns to the atmosphere. It is how San Francisco, Milwaukee and Philadelphia, for example, try to deal with extreme storms.

There is an algae-powered Bio Intelligent Quotient (BIQ) apartment building in Hamburg. The algae facade generates renewable energy from biomass and solar heat. The system is fully integrated with the building’s installations, and excess heat from the photobioreactors can be used to supply hot water and heat the building. Moreover, algae are great at absorbing carbon dioxide and purifying sewage.

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