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11 Insane Ways The World Is Dealing With A Hotter Planet

The world is getting warmer, and the weather crazier. Here are some of the incredible ways that people are adapting to climate change.

Posted on December 5, 2015, at 9:56 a.m. ET

1. Floating schools in Bangladesh

Allison Joyce / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com

During the monsoon season in rural Bangladesh, flooding keeps thousands of children out of school. And it's going to get worse with climate change: Sea level rise threatens to inundate Bangladesh’s deltas and lead to surges in the country's rivers. According to the World Bank, Bangladesh "faces serious monsoon inland flooding that may submerge over 60% of the country every 4 to 5 years."

A nonprofit organization called Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha has opened up a couple of dozen "floating schools," small vessels whose solar panels power computers and lights inside. The organization has also made floating libraries and health clinics.

Allison Joyce / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com

A view from inside the floating school.

2. Artificial glaciers in the Himalayas

Peter Caton / Climate Heroes / Via climateheroes.org

Low-lying glaciers in the Himalayas used to provide water to Skara, a remote village in northern India. But thanks to increasing temperatures, the glaciers have all but disappeared.

Chewang Norphel, a civil engineer from Skara, figured out a solution in 1987: artificial glaciers.

Here's how it works: In the winter months, Norphel's team diverts river water into long, meandering, rock-lined canals, eventually emptying into a valley. Because this process slows down the water flow, when it arrives in the valley it freezes. The whole process repeats so that the valley fills with layers of ice.

Norphel, aka "Ice Man," has built a dozen artificial glaciers, according to climateheroes.org. The largest spans 1,000 feet, cost just $2,000, and provides water to 700 people in the village of Phuktsey.

3. Mountain cable cars in Medellin, Colombia

Raul Arboleda / AFP / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com

Medellin, a large Colombian city tucked between the Andes Mountains, has undergone an enormous transformation over the past couple of decades. Once at the heart of the drug trade, the city went from one of the most violent in the world in the late 80s to the most innovative in 2013.

About 180,000 poor people live in the city's ultra-steep hillsides, which are vulnerable to flooding and landslides. This will only get worse with climate change: Medellin and other tropical zones are likely to see longer rainy seasons, with more intense rain storms.

In 2004, the city built an aerial lift public transit system, called Metrocable, to help people who live on the hillsides go up and down the mountain. In 2011, it launched a "Metropolitan Greenbelt" — a 46-mile-wide ring of nature reserves around the city — to curb urban development.

"It's an exciting story," Cynthia Rosenzweig, a climate scientist at NASA, told BuzzFeed News. "It's a city that's really trying to turn itself around."

Rosenzweig helped write a new report on how cities are adapting to climate change, which was released on Friday at the big Paris climate talks.

4. "Hyperwall" command center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

City of Rio de Janeiro

In April 2010, Rio de Janeiro was struck was a massive rain storm, triggering floods and mudslides and killing at least 200 people. The city's mayor, Eduardo Paes, said that its level of readiness was "less than zero." In early 2011, 1,000 more people in Rio lost their lives to floods.

"There is no bigger problem in Rio de Janeiro than the risk of losing lives from climate catastrophes," one of the mayor's advisors told CNN in 2012. To deal with that risk, in 2010 the city launched a $14 million Operations Center, a huge room (built by IBM) with dozens of screens displaying real-time data from weather and subway stations, streets, and dozens of city agencies.

"It's not a war room, exactly, but like a reaction room," Rosenzweig of NASA said. "It's getting where the traffic is, where the pileups are, where the energy outages are."

5. "Agroforestry" in Montpellier, France

Christian Dupraz; Source: CIRCLE-2 Adaptation Inspiration Book / Via climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu

Montpellier, a city in the hills of southern France, is trying to brace its agricultural sector for the higher temps and more frequent droughts that are coming due to climate change. The city is turning to "agroforestry," or planting trees and crops in the same place. These more biodiverse areas tend to boost crop yields and be more resistant to drought. France plans to plant 500,000 hectares of agroforestry in the next 25 years.

As shown in this picture, Montpellier has planted walnut trees and wheat together. One study found that crop production on wheat and walnut mixtures are about 40% higher than those of either plant separated.

6. Floating pavilion in Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Flickr: 25228175@N08 / Via Elvin

Since 2008, Rotterdam, a large city in South Holland, has undertaken tons of large projects to "climate proof" the city and its cargo port, the largest in Europe. Rotterdam has built 130,000 square meters of green roofs, for example, as well as "super levees" and "water plazas."

The floating pavilion, pictured here, uses solar energy to power its heating and air conditioning. And as water level rises, so will the three-dome structure.

7. "Green streets" and "green roofs" in Durban, South Africa

Alexander Joe / AFP / Getty Images

Durban, South Africa, has been working on climate adaptation strategies for more than a decade (and was the host of the United Nations COP-17 climate change summit in 2011). Its Municipal Climate Protection Programme has launched a host of adaptation projects, including rooftop gardens that can naturally cool buildings, lowering their energy costs.

The photo above shows a street in the Cato Manor township, home of the first "green street" in the country, which was outfitted with solar hot water systems and other green building technologies. This house has a front garden made out of used car tires.

View this video on YouTube

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8. Rapid bus transit in Lagos, Nigeria

Pius Utomi Ekpei / AFP / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com

Lagos, the African mega-city of 21 million people, has terrible traffic congestion: Many workers need four hours to get to work, leading to big losses in economic productivity, not to mention huge levels of exhaust emissions.

In 2008, the city created a Bus Rapid Transit system, which uses dedicated bus lanes to beat the traffic. "The buses come very frequently, like every three minutes," said Rosenzweig of NASA. "It's like a conveyor belt at the airport, you can get on and off much more easily."

The system has also been great for the environment, with carbon dioxide emissions dropping 13% in the first year, according to the project's leaders (though there are some questions about that figure).

9. Coral reef studies in American Samoa

Flickr: noaaphotolib / Via NOAA

Because of increased warming and acidification in the ocean, many of the world's coral reefs are under threat. A few species, though, such as those near American Samoa, have evolved to thrive in hot water. As featured in Nature magazine last year, some scientists are trying to understand the resilience of these species, in hopes of boosting the heartiness of others that are more vulnerable.

10. "Dryline" around New York City

Bjarke Ingels Group / One Architecture / Via big.dk

When superstorm Sandy struck the U.S. Eastern seaboard in 2012, surging as much as 14 feet in New York, the city got serious about climate change. A year later, mayor Michael Bloomberg debuted a $19.5 billion adaptation plan, generally seen as one of the world's most comprehensive. The plan included 250 projects, most of which focused on repairing homes and buildings destroyed by Sandy.

In collaboration with city and federal governments, architectural firms BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) and One Architecture are building a $335 million, 10-mile-long "dryline" around New York City's coast to protect against flooding.

Bjarke Ingels Group / One Architecture / Via big.dk

11. Adding water reservoirs in Chicago

Photo By Micheal Earley / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.com

In 1972, as part of an effort to curb water pollution, Chicago built an enormous tunnel system, informally known as "Deep Tunnel." The tunnels, which span more than 100 miles, are meant to prevent storm water and sewage from getting into Chicago's rivers. "Before the tunnels existed," noted onEarth magazine, "Chicago’s rivers were so gross that architects would design buildings with windows facing away from the reeking eyesores."

Deep Tunnel was a big improvement, but has its flaws: About 40 times a year, the system can't hold all of the rain, leading to flooding. And as climate change intensifies over the coming years, this flooding will only get worse.

Beginning this year, to prep for those coming waters, Deep Tunnel is expanding. Two new reservoirs are being built, holding 18 billion gallons of water between them.

The project isn't expected to be done until 2029. In the meantime, some environmental groups (and local journalists) say it's not doing enough. The project should not only be adding reservoirs, some say, but making the tunnels bigger.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.

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