The floors have become too small for us, the streets have become hostile, nature is too far away and we do not have enough living space to walk or play. If the pandemic has shown anything, it is that cities that dedicate more space to cars than to people are toxic and that the current model of urban planning and social organization is dysfunctional because it forces us to move all at once and kills us little by little. little bit. Due to pollution, stress associated with mobility and lack of living space. All of this will be exacerbated by climate change.
Big cities have to mutate if they want to survive what is to come. They need an reset to be reprogrammed. And Barcelona needs it especially because it is in a high-risk area. The Mediterranean basin is one of the places where global warming is having the most impact. If the average temperature of the planet has increased 1 º C compared to the pre-industrial era, in the Mediterranean it has risen 1.5 according to the study Risks associated with climate change and environmental changes in the Mediterranean region, coordinated by Professor Wolfgang Cramer, from the Mediterranean Institute for Biodiversity and Ecology. The work, in which more than 80 scientists participate, including Professor M. Carme Llasat, began in 2015 and preliminary results confirm that the basin is heating up 20% faster than the rest of the planet.
The sea heats up and this has serious effects on a land where, as Raimon sings, ‘la pluja no sap ploure’
The temperature rises, the sea heats up and this has serious consequences in a land where, as Raimon sings, the rain does not know how to rain. The study warns that heat waves will become increasingly intense and longer lasting, leading to prolonged droughts. Even if we manage to contain global warming at the end of the century below the 2 degrees set by the Paris Agreement, summer rains will be reduced by between 10% and 30%, and when it rains it will be more torrential. There will be a shortage of fresh water, rivers will contribute less sediment, beaches will recede, and sea levels will rise.
Actually, we are already seeing all that. That future of drought and desertification that we believed to be distant is fast approaching. And there is Barcelona, compressed between the sea and the mountains, watching as the summer lengthens more and more, the winter shortens and in between there are a much warmer spring and autumn than they used to be. One of the densest cities in the world, with less living space and greater intensity of traffic, has to deal with these forecasts, conditions that are especially favorable for the formation of what Professor Javier Martín Vide calls an iheat sla. The city consumes a lot of energy and it gives off heat. Human traffic, traffic, overheated asphalt and intense activity increase the temperature. When the nighttime low rises above 20 degrees, you cannot sleep well and everything becomes thick, unpleasant. Professor Martín Vide, coordinator of the latest report on climate change in Catalonia, coined the term torrid night to describe this phenomenon. Well, for some time now, he has observed that torrid nights are not only more and more frequent but that we have already left 20 degrees behind and now more and more are those that exceed 25, which has a strong impact on the health of people with cardiac or respiratory diseases.
The torrid nights with a minimum temperature of more than 25º C have gone from five in 2007 to 21 in 2020
Martín Vide began to study this phenomenon 30 years ago, when it was still anecdotal. Now, he says, it has become a new climate hazard. And, as with other risks, it impacts more on those who, due to their situation of energy poverty, cannot defend themselves with good air conditioning. In the Raval observatory between 2007 and 2015 an average of five of those especially torrid nights was recorded. In 2017 there were already 13 and this year they have been 21. A brutal jump. 21 nights in which the minimum 25 degrees have been exceeded.
All these data were a preamble to say that the Eixample transformation plan that plans to convert 33 kilometers of streets into green and semi-pedestrian corridors and build 21 new squares at as many crossings, is not only something necessary and urgent, but must be extended and expand to the rest of the city. This project is just the first step of gran reset that Barcelona needs. As the philosopher Bruno Latour argues, the coronavirus crisis has made us see something that we did not think was feasible: that when a global and potentially catastrophic threat hits us, it is possible to react with a steering wheel. That is what big cities need now to face the climate emergency and move away from a future of urban degradation like the one we see in the film Blade Runner.