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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Earth and Environmental Science: John Geissman “I have never been a fan of huge for-profit publishers of science. Most have taxed the system in a very painful way. The more opportunities scientists have to publish their contributions in nonprofit journals, the better. Elementa provides a very important venue for scholars addressing a range of topics that are important to society, right now.”
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.
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’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.
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.