On March 7, 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry issued instructions to all diplomats around the world on combating climate change. He stressed that success in this effort will require active leadership and participation from everyone in the State Department and at posts around the world.
Personal Message From Secretary Kerry:
The environment has been one of the central causes of my life. I was just 26 when I participated in the very first Earth Day at home in Massachusetts. It was an eye-opening immersion into the power of grassroots action to force an issue onto the national radar screen and demand change. More than 20 million Americans—fully one-tenth of our country’s population at the time — came together to express a wake-up call. And they didn’t stop there. They elected a Congress that passed the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act and the first wave of legislation that set us on a path to change the face of the planet we share with the rest of humanity.
We can transform challenges into opportunities. I’ve seen it happen long before I had a vote in the Senate or an office in Foggy Bottom, and it’s what I still believe. But I’m not just waxing nostalgic. Protecting our environment and meeting the challenge of global climate change is a critical mission for me as our country’s top diplomat. It’s also a critical mission for all of you: our brave men and women on the frontlines of direct diplomacy.
Here’s what this guidance means in practice:
I. Lead by example through strong action at home and abroad: Making significant progress in combating climate change through domestic actions within the Department and at the federal, regional, and local level.
II. Conclude a new international climate change agreement: Working through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to negotiate a new, ambitious international climate agreement applicable to all countries by 2015 to take effect in 2020.
III. Implement the Global Climate Change Initiative: Undertaking a pragmatic, whole-of-government approach to speed the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient future, including (1) promoting clean energy solutions; (2) slowing, halting, and reversing emissions from land use; and (3) helping the most vulnerable countries strengthen climate resilience.
IV. Enhance multilateral engagement: Helping lead efforts including the Major Economies Forum, Clean Energy Ministerial, Montreal Protocol, and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants.
V. Expand bilateral engagement: Engaging more than 50 partner countries on clean energy, sustainable landscapes, and adaptation, including the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the developing world.
VI. Mobilize financial resources: Working to mobilize and leverage billions of dollars of funding to transform our energy economies and promote sustainable land use, as well as working to limit public incentives for high-carbon energy production and fossil fuels.
VII. Integrate climate change with other priorities: Better integrating climate solutions into cross-cutting challenges, including women’s empowerment, urbanization, conflict and national security, and our own management and operations.- See more at: State.gov
Posts tagged adaptation.
If current trends in global warming continue unmitigated, some of the world’s most well-known and historically significant cultural landmarks could be destroyed by rising global sea levels.
A new study examining the long-term effects of sea-level rise on the 720 spots around the world that have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites found that roughly 20 percent of them could be ruined if temperatures rise 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels over the next two millennia, said study lead author Ben Marzeion, an assistant professor at the Institute of Meteorology and Geophysics at the University of Innsbruck in Austria.“I didn’t expect that so many of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites would be affected,” Marzeion told Live Science. “I knew that many of the sites are close to the sea, but I didn’t expect to have such high numbers. If you asked me when I started doing this, I would have said maybe 2 or 5 percent.”The findings are also worrisome because the scenario imagined in the study - that is, a temperature increase of 5.4 degrees F (3 degrees C) above pre-industrial levels - is not much more extreme than current climate change projections, the researchers said.
Back at UMass-Amherst, my advisers asked me to create a sea-level rise vulnerability assessment of lighthouses along the coasts of Maine and Massachusetts. The idea was to create a method to integrate adaptation techniques into cultural heritage protection policies in New England. Pretty interesting concept. Especially since so much history and so many landmarks are located along coastlines. Instead, I did a study of the first tax-payer funded adaptation plan in the world in a tiny city in Denmark.
“A lot of the time climate change doesn’t really seem tangible,” said lead author Scott Taylor, a postdoctoral researcher at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “But here are these common little backyard birds we all grew up with, and we’re seeing them moving northward on relatively short time scales.”
The birds moved so fast the scientists had to add an extra study site partway through their project in order to keep up.
In Pennsylvania, where the study was conducted, the hybrid zone is just 21 miles across on average. Hybrid chickadees have lower breeding success and survival than either of the pure species. This keeps the contact zone small and well defined, making it a convenient reference point for scientists aiming to track environmental changes.
“Hybridization is kind of a brick wall between these two species,” said Robert Curry, a professor of biology at Villanova University, who led the field component of the study. “Carolina Chickadees can’t blithely disperse north without running into black-caps and creating hybrids. That makes it possible to keep an eye on the hybrid zone and see exactly how the ranges are shifting.”
The researchers drew on field studies, genetic analyses, and crowdsourced bird sightings. The data was matched with winter temperatures observations, and the scientists also closely studied the birds’ DNA to pinpoint the distribution of the two species.
I like the idea that climate change will create new species through hybrids.
"Officials canceled two Olympic test events last February in Sochi after several days of temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit and a lack of snowfall had left ski trails bare and brown in spots. That situation led the climatologist Daniel Scott, a professor of global change and tourism at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, to analyze potential venues for future Winter Games. His thought was that with a rise in the average global temperature of more than 7 degrees Fahrenheit possible by 2100, there might not be that many snowy regions left in which to hold the Games. He concluded that of the 19 cities that have hosted the Winter Olympics, as few as 10 might be cold enough by midcentury to host them again. By 2100, that number shrinks to 6.
The planet has warmed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1800s, and as a result, snow is melting. In the last 47 years, a million square miles of spring snow cover has disappeared from the Northern Hemisphere. Europe has lost half of its Alpine glacial ice since the 1850s, and if climate change is not reined in, two-thirds of European ski resorts will be likely to close by 2100.
The same could happen in the United States, where in the Northeast, more than half of the 103 ski resorts may no longer be viable in 30 years because of warmer winters. As far for the Western part of the country, it will lose an estimated 25 to 100 percent of its snowpack by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are not curtailed — reducing the snowpack in Park City, Utah, to zero and relegating skiing to the top quarter of Ajax Mountain in Aspen.” NYTimes
President Obama is calling for a $1 billion climate change ‘resilience fund’ to help prepare communities for the impacts of climate change and research.
President Obama’s new Executive Order, “Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change,” and recent Climate Action Plan directs federal agencies to ask the Climate Question and provide policy support and technical assistance to help federal, state and local governments, and private companies answer both parts of the Question — mitigation and adaptation.
The nexus between adapting to a changing climate and reducing GHGs is rarely approached in an integrated fashion. Many climate adaptation measures have GHG mitigation benefits and vice versa, yet too often the synergies only receive cursory attention. CCAP sees great opportunities in focusing on that sweet spot in the center of the Venn diagram.
Which land should governments protect from floods: urban and coastal cities, or agricultural farmlands? ›
Interesting argument against governments protecting urban zones over food-production zones. Coastal communities and inland cities are protected from floods and erosion by highly complex infrastructure mechanisms, such as dams, levees, and piping. Agricultural lands do not enjoy the same levels of infrastructural capacity. But, should they? Should farms have an equal amount of protection as cities do?
Government accused of failing to address effects of climate change on coastal and rural areas
Severe flooding threatens to undermine the country’s food security, according to farmers and environmental groups, who today accuse the government of failing to address the effects of climate change on coastal and rural areas.
As gales swept southern and western parts of the UK, with already drenched counties bearing the brunt of the storms, it has emerged that parliament’s select committee on the environment warned in a report last year that “the current model for allocating flood defence funding is biased towards protecting property, which means that funding is largely allocated to urban areas. Defra’s [the Department of the Environment’s] failure to protect rural areas poses a long-term risk to the security of UK food production, as a high proportion of the most valuable agricultural land is at risk of flooding.”
"We need a response from government that recognises the importance for our long-term food security of safeguarding high-quality farmland," said Neil Sinden of the Campaign to Protect Rural England. "We need to view the countryside as more than a place for building, and value it for the food it provides." Via The Guardian
I am embarrassed I hadn’t heard about The Weather Channel’s climate documentary series, “Tipping Points.”
A tipping point, in climatology, is when a major change occurs to a major environmental system due to climate change, such as a shift in ocean currents or atmospheric circulation. These systems “tip” over from one stable state to another stable state, thus creating an entirely new situation. This new situation is irreversible. Sort of like spilling a glass of wine, you can’t put the wine back in the glass. Climate activists (whom I often disagree with) colloquially call this new state “the new normal.”
The show, Tipping Points, is hosted by Bernice Notenboom, an interesting journalist who combines science writing and adventure travel. She’s pretty good on camera, but most of the show seems to focus on showing 1) a climate change problem as it occurs in the real world (such as drought in the Amazon rainforest) and 2) a series of scientific experiments that aim identify the moment of a tipping point and then figure out how to manage the new system.
Tipping Points: Breaching Climate Stability
Hosted by Climate Journalist and adventurer Bernice Notenboom, Tipping Points embraces commentary from leading climate scientists surveying the complexity of the major tipping points effecting our current climate and their impact on changing weather patterns around the globe.
Adventurous and informative, Tipping Points explores the interconnectedness of all the elements that make up our climate system that influence global and local weather patterns. The Earth is in a delicate equilibrium; once one factor reaches its respective tipping point the other factors will also breach stability. As the atmosphere heats up and the chemical makeup of the atmosphere shifts there will be repercussions felt on a global scale. These elements are what Bernice and her team of climate authorities are going to explore is some of the most remote locations on the planet.
From the canopies of The Amazon to the ice sheets of Siberia, these climate specialists will chase answers to behavioral patterns of tipping elements in the climate system affecting our weather systems. View, here.
The European Union, which for years has sought to lead the world in addressing climate change, is tempering its ambitions and considering turning mandatory targets for renewable energy into just goals.
The union’s policy-making body is also unlikely to restrict exploration for shale gas using the disputed technique known as hydraulic fracturing.
A deep and lasting economic slowdown, persistently high prices for renewable energy sources and years of inconclusive international negotiations are giving European officials second thoughts about how aggressively to remake the Continent’s energy-production industries.
The details are still being negotiated in Brussels, but officials said the European Commission’s energy and climate proposal will probably include a binding target of reducing emissions by 35 percent to 40 percent by 2030. Some officials wanted to make the new targets for renewable energy nonbinding. But opposition this week appears to have turned the tide in favor of having a binding renewable target — although it would be applied across the European Union rather than to individual nations, according to an official briefed on the negotiations.
There is absolutely no way to reasonably stop countries from emitting carbon and GHGs.
Highway to the Arctic Ocean, built on melting permafrost, slices through dozens of streams, ponds, and lakes. Why? In anticipation of the Arctic north thawing from climate change giving the Canadian government an edge on extracting natural resources.
Expose’ of this new highway boondoggle at The Globe and Mail.
Information is king in within the climate science community. Scientific information can help society cope with current climate variability, prevent deaths and disasters, and save communities a ton of money. The information can help limit the economic and social damages caused by climate-related disasters.
The best available climate science needs to be made readily available to people in agriculture, water, health, infrastructure, cities, and other sectors.
A bunch of very smart climate scientists got together to make climate science information easily accessible. They formed a group*, called the Climate Services Partnership, and recently held a major conference.
The presentations from this conference are now available online, and they are pretty amazing. You can download them, share with your colleagues, researchers, fellow students, etc.. Dive in (and bookmark) if you can!
Authors in the Nature special feature on coastal threats argue that rather than restore costly sea walls and other engineered coastal defenses, it might be more efficient to restore tidal marshes, coastal wetlands, barrier islands and other natural ecosystems that have traditionally served as buffer zones for coastal-dwelling communities.
Two other scientists believe that natural buffers could keep pace with sea level rise and offer continuing protection.
“Tidal marsh plants are amazing ecosystem engineers that can raise themselves upward if they remain heathy, and especially if there is sediment in the water,” says Patrick Megonigal of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, one of the authors.
Via Climate Central
A: By incorporating climate science into environmental regulations. The EPA recently published 17 adaptation plans for various environmental regulatory offices in the U.S. These plans affect the quality of our water and air, reduce chemical waste in the environment, and improve government employee knowledge on climate science. Note that in 2010, and 2013 President Obama signed executive orders requiring all of the Federal Government to implement adaptation plans based on climate science. Here’s the EPA’s list of plans. Each agency will have their own adaptation plans, and I’ll post those as I receive them.
Check out the plans if you can! They’re free and easy to read.
EPA Adaptation Implementation Plans
In early November, 2013 EPA released 17 Program and Regional Adaptation Implementation Plans for a 60 day public comment period. The public is invited to review and provide comment on the draft Implementation Plans through the public docket at www.regulations.gov (Docket Number EPA-HQ-OA-2013-0568). The docket will open as soon as the Federal Register Notice is published. If you are providing comments through the public docket, it is important to identify which of the 17 Plans your comments refer to. Thank you for your interest and assistance.
These draft Implementation Plans were prepared by EPA’s Program and Regional Offices following the February 2013 publication of the Draft Climate Change Adaptation Plan (PDF). The 17 plans included here are part of an ongoing effort to address adaptation across the federal government, in response to Executive Order 13514 - “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.” (PDF)
Program Implementation Plans
- Office of Water (PDF)
- Office of Air and Radiation (PDF)
- Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (PDF)
- Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (PDF)
- Office of International and Tribal Affairs (PDF)
- Office of Research and Development (PDF)
- Office of Administration and Resource Management (PDF)
Regional Office Implementation Plans
Multi-scale adaptations to climate change in coastal areas in France, South Africa, and the United Kingdom ›
Called MAGIC (Multi-scale Adaptations to Global change In Coastlines), the project addresses a classical wicked problem: how to respond appropriately to risk and vulnerability in coastal zones.
With threats coming from the direction of the land and the sea and with many stakeholders with differing objectives feeling the pressure and wanting to push their agendas, conventional blueprint planning is insufficient to bring about transitions to sustainability in coastal areas.
Adaptations developed in such a blinkered manner frequently lead to perverse policies or poorly planned development with unforeseen consequences beyond the focal scale. Instead of reducing vulnerability they in fact increase it.
The project addresses four linked questions: 1) How do human perceptions of risk and adaptability, and capacity to adapt, influence the adaptive actions and strategies of decision makers? 2) How do such adaptations affect the vulnerability of external groups, places or ecosystem services? 3) Which feedbacks occur when people engage in dialogue, social learning and critical inquiry? And 4) How do perceptions change when decision makers are actively involved in, learn and reflect, in a process of situated social learning?
This project is looking for post-docs.