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Vicki Arroyo of Georgetown Climate Center in Washington D.C., says climate's impact on infrastructure needs more attention

10:33 PM, Aug 1, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- So far this summer in Washington, there have been 33 days of 90 degrees or hotter, 50 percent more than normal for June and July.

The intensely hot weather has been toughest, of course, on DC-area residents, about two million of whom had no power and, therefore, no air conditioning, in the warm wake of the devastating Derecho.

But the scorching temperatures have also taken a serious toll on the area's infrastructure.  Earlier this month, for example, the extreme heat buckled four eastbound lanes of Route 50 in Bowie and kinked a rail track in Hyattsville, Maryland, causing three cars of a Metro train to derail.

Vicki Arroyo is Executive Director of the Georgetown Climate Center.  She said given all the recent examples of climate change negatively affecting everything from tarmacs to roads to nuclear power plants, much more attention needs to be paid to adapting the area's infrastructure.

"Our infrastructure has been built for conditions that have been relatively stable for 10,000 years, but those conditions are no longer with us," Arroyo said. 

Arroyo added that, in the long-term, the country's infrastructure will benefit from a worldwide reduction in the amount of greenhouse gases that are produced.

In the short-term, though, she believes local governments have to fundamentally change the way they build roads and bridges and railroad tracks, essentially anything made of concrete or steel, to meet the demands of a warmer world.

"We really have to look at our electricity infrastructure, we have to look at our transportation infrastructure...and really recognize that the future is going to look different than the past, and plan accordingly," Arroyo said.

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