Thursday, December 13, 2012
Cleo writes on risks to global financial centers for The World Today
From The World Today. Read the whole article here.Superstorm Sandy brought devastation to New York and the city is still cleaning up the mess. When disasters hit big cities, the media naturally focus on human tragedies. In the heart-rending chaos, large, systemic failures get brief mention.
However, as patterns develop over time, it is becoming clear that those systemic failures are occurring more often. One increasingly glaring problem is that many global trade and financial centres, including Shanghai, Mumbai, Bangkok, London as well as New York, are in vulnerable locations. Each city is projected to be increasingly subject to extreme weather, throwing periodic wrenches into the global economy. Such disruptions can weaken economic systems, and have unexpected cascading effects, from shutting down trading floors, to rupturing critical supply chains.
Extreme weather is just one factor, however. Most financial centres grew up around ports which placed these cities on the coast – New York, Shanghai, Mumbai, Bangkok – or, like London, on a large river. Population booms then led to haphazard zoning and development.
The result is overstretched infrastructure papering over the cracks in an increasingly unstable environment. Buildings start subsiding, airports go up on floodplains, saltwater infiltrates underground wiring and transport systems. And the city – a critical hub in a global economy – becomes a disaster waiting to happen. In future there will be more Sandys hitting more global centres more often. And they will affect you. Here we look at five cities and the threat they face from just one disruption, flooding.