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In March 2011, people in a coastal Japanese city stood atop a seawall watching the approach of the tsunami that would kill them. They believed—naively—that the huge concrete barrier would save them. Instead, they perished, betrayed by the very thing built to protect them.

Academics call it maladaptation; in simple terms, it’s about solutions that backfire. Over the Seawall tells the stories behind these unintended consequences and the fixes that do more harm than good. From seawalls in coastal Japan, to reengineered waters in the Ganges River Delta, to the ribbon of water supporting both farms and cities in parched Arizona, we visit engineering marvels once deemed too smart and too big to fail. After each we better understand how complicated, grandiose schemes fail. Ultimately, we learn that if we are to adapt successfully to climate change, we must recognize that working with nature is not surrender but the only way to assure a secure future.

Download "Introduction" and "Part I: Soutei-Gai Northeastern Japan " here or read it below.