I learned a lot from this 45 minute NPR segment. The host kept asking me "adaptation architecture" questions. For example, one woman wanted to know if I supported more people living underground where it is nice and cool even during summer time. While I don't want to live underground, I said that this is a great example of the "guinea pig" effect. To adapt to climate change, we need to run many field experiments to see what works and what fails. For those pioneers who choose to live below ground, we can make a youtube video and post it to show other people what it would be like to mimic the "green guinea pigs". This is decentralized adaptation at work.
The other two participants in the discussion emphasized that car based cities such as Phoenix and Las Vegas can learn from earlier societies and poorer cities about how to cope. They argued that if these car cities ripped out their concrete and shrunk their roads that the urban heat island effect would be attenuated and they want more shading using trees and tall buildings. These are reasonable ideas. Just because Phoenix and Las Vegas have built plenty of low density, car heavy suburban housing in the past doesn't mean that such cities must continue to do so in the future. There is a question of what focal points in these metro areas could be places where people want to live at higher density?
For example, in Beijing --- in preparation for the 2008 Olympics the government built the Olympic Park and private sector developers subsequently built more housing towers nearby and more private restaurants opened up nearby. This complementarity between public and private investment suggests a channel for other cities to become more dense. This is now happening in Los Angeles' downtown as crime falls there.