Climate Adaptation


I want to punch climate change in the face. A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature. - FAQs - Follow - Face - Ask - Donations - Climate Book Store

Early springs surprise many species

Spring has arrived earlier throughout the world (with the exception of North America).

Spring is arriving earlier – maybe not this year for North America, but the trend is clear. This is not welcome news for Arctic creatures or the roe deer of France. And it could be awkward for flower festival organizers as well.

USAID's Climate-Resilient Development Framework

This is the core document from my USAID contract. Took us three years to write this! We’ve implemented the framework in over 30 countries on dozens of projects. The USAID Global Climate Change office will hold a webinar today at 4pm. Space is limited, but I’ll post the stream this Friday.

USAID’s Climate-Resilient Development Framework (2014) offers a simple yet robust five-stage approach to help decision-makers and development practitioners at all levels systematically assess climate-related risks and prioritize actions that promote climate-resilient development.

Developed by USAID’s Global Climate Change Office, this “development-first” approach helps decision-makers and practitioners integrate climate considerations directly into development activities across multiple sectors, keeping the focus on achieving development goals despite a changing climate. 

Working with USAID missions, governments, and other stakeholders, the framework has been used in Barbados, Jamaica, Nepal, Peru, the Philippines, St. Lucia, Tanzania, and West Africa.

This is the biggest scientific climate change report in all of history. Ever." - Mr. Michel Jarraud World Meteorological Organization

IPCC releases its report on climate impacts. Streaming live now. Here.

Why is it important to publish in a nonprofit journal?

Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene is one of my favorite science journals. All articles are open-source - meaning they’re free - no registration or fees. They focus on environmental scientific research in an “era of accelerated human impact.” Humans have disturbed virtually every natural system on earth.

So, how do we share knowledge about scientific research? Currently, there’s a maturing debate about whether scientific research should be free or paid. I’m quite interested in this debate. Especially since my tax dollars pay for much of this research, but I don’t have access to it. In fact, most science is publicly funded by taxpayer dollars typically through universities and direct government grants. The balance of journals get their funds from subscriptions, which average about $5,000 per year. Yes, you can subscribe to Scientific American for $25, yet the annual ‘script for the Journal of Coordination Chemistry is $11,000!

When a researcher publishes their findings, scientific journals charge the public very high fees for access, which prevents the majority of the world from learning more.

I think this is reasonably indefensible.

One article from the journal Nature typically costs $20 to $30. One of my articles published with International Journal of Climate Change costs $10 (I share it for free with those that ask).

The debate is so powerful that The Guardian newspaper created a special section called Open Source Scientific Publishing. It focuses on the changing landscape of scientific publishing, and the debates make for fun, if not serious, reading.

And there is a protest movement by senior scientists to boycott some of the bigger scientific journals in favor of open source, free access publications. The University of California has also joined the fight, protesting these high fees.

Some have argued that science journals are more interested in selling subscriptions, where they favor “superstar” researchers who can capture more fees over less flashy researchers. Competition among science journals is a surprisingly ugly business.

So, should science be free? I think so.

For my part, I favor peer-reviewed, open-source science publication generally, and the journal Elementa specifically. Elementa is a non-profit publisher of science with overlap in my field of climate change and climate adaptation. The partners are BioOne, Dartmouth, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Michigan, and the University of Washington.

Take a minute to read what the editors of Elementa have to say about why open source science matters and why it should be free to everyone.

'We Need To Elevate the Environment in Everything We Do'
Climate Study: Rising Seas Could Wipe Out Many Cultural Landmarks

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.

Study: Eastern chickadee populations moving fast in response to global warming

I like the idea that climate change will create new species through hybrids.

The End of Snow?

"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

Connecting the Dots: Adaptation + Mitigation Synergies
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?

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.

Surprise! Sluggish Economy Prompts Europe to Reconsider Its Intentions on Climate Change

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.