New York City in the midst of Superstorm Sandy.
Man-made climate change is happening, and while there's an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence proving its existence, there isn't international consensus among governments and economic superpowers about how to stop it.
But instead of waiting for the worst to happen, architects, urban planners and engineers around the world are designing and maintaining systems to handle one of climate change's most destructive byproducts: rising sea levels.
SEE ALSO: Climate change is life and death
Here are five ways cities are getting ready to fight back flooding, even when a solution to its root problem isn't on the horizon.
1. New York's $1 billion flood prevention plan
New York dealt with costly and destructive flooding after Hurricane Sandy hit the Atlantic northeast. Now, work will begin on several anti-flooding projects that recently received a combined $1 billion in funding from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The most ambitious and expensive project is a $332 million U-shaped berm that will hug the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The berm will shield 10 miles of coastline with not only an isolated flood zone, but with a slew of recreational areas lush with salt-resistant vegetation.
Other projects include a $66 million living breakwater along Staten Island's South Shore, and a$125 million flood prevention plan for Southern Nassau County.
2. Rotterdam's massive floodgates
The Port of Rotterdam is a linchpin of the European economy, thanks to its accessibility, proximity to the North Sea and sheer size. That said, it's also in danger of flooding as sea levels rise, due in part to the Netherlands' low altitude.
Flooding in the Netherlands has been a problem for a long time, so after one particularly bad flood in 1953, the country started its Delta Works program in 1958. Over the past 56 years, the country's been building up a series of dams, dikes and drains to curb flooding, but the Rotterdam floodgates, called the Maeslantkering, might be the most impressive part of the Delta Works program.
Construction of the gates — each 72 feet wide and 688 feet long — ran from 1991 to 1999, and automatically open and close to allow ships to pass through. When closed, the gates protect Rotterdam from storm surges and flooding, and are even a popular tourist destination.
3. Da Nang's flood-resistant housing program
Da Nang, Vietnam, is a critical port city sitting right in the middle of the country. While Da Nang has little issue bringing goods in, the coastal areas around the city have trouble keeping water out, especially after major storms.
Even worse, many of the homes are too poorly built to withstand flood waters, which often linger because of poor drainage in the most susceptible areas.
That's why the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition is partnering with the Rockefeller Foundation's Climate Change Coordination office to give Da Nang's residents the resources to build stronger, flood-resistant homes.
The program offers lines of credit and loans for poorer families in Da Nang to renovate their homes to withstand flooding, or build homes that will. The program also created a revolving loan fund for small businesses to improve credit worthiness.
The effort began in October 2011 and is slated to finish in September 2014. By the time it's complete, the Rockefeller Foundation expects to reinforce or reconstruct 376 homes in Da Nang.
4. Surat's flood warning system
As the eight most populated city in the world and home to 90% of the world's diamond cutting, Surat is a major player in the global economy. However, the Indian coastal city constantly battles floods, and when these floods necessitate an emergency release from Ukai dam, they can inundate up to 75% of the city.
To make matters worse, infrastructure built along the sides of the dam — which holds back the Tapi River — has made safe discharge of water more difficult and the mouth of the river narrower. This becomes more dangerous as sea levels rise.
In December 2010, TARU Leading Edge, a consulting firm the specializes in scientific solutions to societal problems, partnered with Surat Municipal Corporation Narmada Water to develop a flood warning system. The end-to-end system was completed in March 2013, and integrates historical models with real-time tracking of weather and precipitation conditions to coordinate action among different municipal agencies.
The system also tests projected effects of climate change and sea level rise to prepare for what flooding disasters could be coming down the pipe.
5. Semarang's flood forecasting system
Like its sister city Da Nang, Semarang is another southeast Asian port city with a major flooding problem. The capital of Indonesia's Central Java province, Semarang fights a host of other climate- and weather-related dangers like drought and coastal erosion, and doesn't have adequate draining to handle it all.
With rising sea levels projected to put 50% more of Semarang's homes in flood-prone areas by 2050, a city developmental planning and environmental projection board is partnering with international development organization Mercy Corps to create a flood forecasting system.
The Semarang system focuses on figuring out which prevention and response strategies work best, which areas of the city are in the most danger, where flood shelters can be built and how to create an effective forecasting model that brings all of these efforts together.
The development process began in January 2012 and is expected to be done sometime in December of this year.
Tags: CLIMATE, DEV - DESIGN, DEV & DESIGN, HURRICANE SANDY, US & World, WORLD