CLIMATE ADAPTATION

I want to punch climate change in the face. A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.


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Posts tagged "adaptation"
Asker cuckoomocker Asks:
Hello! I'm a student in Washington, and I'm on my way to get a bachelors in urban planning. After that I'll probably go for a Masters. I was wondering though, as someone that has a degree in city planning, what kind of jobs do people end up with that aren't just city planners? When people talk about getting a city planning degree, they only talk about becoming city planners. Are there any other options?
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hi Cuckoomocker,

Such an interesting question - what are alternative careers other than “urban planning” with an urban planning degree? There are a lot of options. It depends on your interests and your focus area. During my urban planning education at UMass-Amherst, I studied adaptation of coastal cities. But, I gained a lot of real world skills from graduate assistantships and volunteering - survey design (learn this!), historic preservation, economic growth, eminent domain, city park protection, water infrastructure, even apple orchard design, (don’t go into GIS, btw). From there, I became a specialist in adaptation and now I work around the world (OK, it’s not that easy, but I apply what I learned in grad school on a daily basis).

  • How about fighting wildfires in National Parks?
  • Work with game reserves in Africa and South Asia to protect rhinos, big cats, and elephants.
  • Drop your ethics, sell your soul to the devil and become a real estate developer. You’ll make a ton of money.
  • Or, double down on your ethics and go into international development. Help other countries build good communities.
  • What about historic preservation? Do homes, monuments, buildings, places, etc., need to be preserved for history?
  • Geographer
  • Archeologist
  • Land use attorney
  • Architect

Here’s an interesting job for recent graduate at the BLM $47k to $82k: “Recent Graduate Interdisciplinary (Natural Resources Specialist/Mining Engineer/Geologist”
https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/382973400

There are tonnnnns of options for urban planners. I recommend, for your masters, that you latch on to an adviser that has very interesting ideas and projects in the real world. Avoid theorists (unless you want to teach). Protip: get as many graduate assistantships as you can with various city departments  - then call them “consultancies” on your resume - you’ll blow your competition away come job hunting time. Oh, and apply for jobs 6 months ahead of your cohort (trust me on this, your cohort will turn on you come graduation and are vicious competitors for the same jobs you’ll be applying to.).

Hope that helps a bit…

Michael

Any readers use ELDIS?

Climate change is among the factors Defense Department officials consider in protect national security around the globe, a senior DOD official recently told a Senate panel.

Daniel Y. Chiu, deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy, testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee May 21.

Chiu said while DOD plans for contingencies and unexpected developments to protect the nation’s security, climate change can create sea-level rise, storm surge, shifting climate zones and more severe weather conditions that can affect operations. And while some of those conditions have affected military installations, he said, such changes can also have a negative impact on other DOD concerns.

We are also seeing the potential for decreased capacity of DOD properties to support training, as well as implications for supply chains, equipment, vehicles and weapon systems that the department buys,” he explained.

Even while infrastructures are being adapted to climate change threats, DOD also is conducting a baseline study to determine which infrastructure elements are most vulnerable to extreme weather events and sea-level increases, he said, adding that the study is due for completion late this year.

Climate change effects potentially could alter, limit or constrain environments where troops operate, Chiu said, using sea-level increases as an example of an impact on amphibious operations.

Chiu states the US Dept. of Defense’s infrastructure is underprepared and vulnerable to climate impacts. Calls for more adaptation measures.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who is second in command over the US Military (Obama is first) announced Department of Defense Climate Adaptation Roadmap. The plan aims to plan for climate impacts on US military assets and operations, and collaborates with other nations to further adapt. Some highlights:

  • Build natural infrastructure to protect bases
  • Strengthen supply chains vulnerable to climate impacts
  • Prepare forces for changing environmental conditions
  • Assess assets for vulnerabilities

Interesting coverage of the first people to be moved from their homes at a large scale due to climate change.

via Climate Central

Not a great article on this interesting topic. Anyone find better coverage?

Some climate adaptation ideas - build canals - for the great city of Boston.

Boston’s solution to sea level rise

A report scheduled to be released Tuesday about preparing Boston for climate change suggests that building canals through the Back Bay neighborhood would help it withstand water levels that could rise as much as 7 feet by 2100. Some roads and public alleys, such as Clarendon Street, could be turned into narrow waterways, the report suggests, allowing the neighborhood to absorb the rising sea with clever engineering projects that double as public amenities.

The canal system was among the more imaginative solutions offered by some of the city’s leading planning, architecture, and engineering firms in a report compiled by the local chapter of the Urban Land Institute.

Other suggestions include raising the Harborwalk, which rings the waterfront, to act as a stronger barrier for nearby buildings, adding breakwaters in the harbor, and creating wetlands that would act as sponges during periods of high water.

The authors said the ideas are intended to show how the region can respond creatively to the dramatic effects of climate change.

Via Boston Globe

The savage heat waves that struck Australia in 2013 were almost certainly a direct consequence of the human release of greenhouse gases, researchers said Monday. It is perhaps the most definitive statement climate scientists have made that ties a specific weather event to global warming.

Five groups of researchers, using distinct methods, analyzed the heat that baked Australia for much of last year and continued into 2014, shutting down the Australian Open tennis tournament at one point in January. All five came to the conclusion that last year’s heat waves could not have been as severe without the long-term climatic warming caused by human activity.

“When we look at the heat across the whole of Australia and the whole 12 months of 2013, we can say that this was virtually impossible without climate change,” said David Karoly, a climate scientist at the University of Melbourne who led one research team.

One of the most direct and definitive statements from climate scientists to date. More here.

E.g., the case for removing old dams to restore ecosystems.

At over 100 sites throughout the Connecticut River basin, the largest river system in New England, we characterized species composition, valley and channel morphology, and hydrologic regime to define conditions promoting distinct floodplain forest assemblages. Species assemblages were dominated by floodplain-associated trees on surfaces experiencing flood durations between 4.5 and 91 days/year, which were generally well below the stage of the two-year recurrence interval flood, a widely-used benchmark for floodplain restoration. These tree species rarely occurred on surfaces that flooded less than 1 day/year. By contrast abundance of most woody invasive species decreased with flooding.
Such flood-prone surfaces were jointly determined by characteristics of the hydrograph (high discharges of long duration) and topography (low gradient and reduced valley constraint), resulting in increased availability of floodplain habitat with increasing watershed area and/or decreasing stream gradient. Downstream mainstem reaches provided the most floodplain habitat, largely associated with low-energy features such as back swamps and point bars, and were dominated by silver maple (Acer saccharinum). However, we were able to identify a number of suitable sites in the upper part of the basin and in large tributaries, often associated with in-channel islands and bars and frequently dominated by sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and flood disturbance-dependent species.
Our results imply that restoring flows by modifying dam operations to benefit floodplain forests on existing surfaces need not conflict with flood protection in some regional settings.

Pretty cool engineering project in New Orleans. The journalist explains how adding sod to the top of levees will increase the capacity of the berms to retain water. (though, I though levees were generally covered in grass, so it’s a bit confusing.) Anyway, this is a good and simple example of an adaptation.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Not sure if you have already been asked this, what did you study to get the career you have today?
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hey anon,

Yes, been asked a ton, but I don’t mind.

I have masters degrees in environmental law and city planning. The focus of my research was/is how land-use laws were able (or, rather, unable) to accommodate climate science. So, naturally, I’m interested in how climate will affect infrastructure, economies, demographics, ecosystems, etc.

For example, I’m quite interested how can coastal communities deal with a rising sea. Especially cities like New York City or Lagos, which have thousands of buildings, roads, ports, and pipelines literally built inches from the ocean.

Cities are prepared for certain levels of disasters. There are sea walls and evacuation plans, flood pump stations and hurricane barriers. And buildings and infrastructure are generally built to high standards. But, cites are not prepared for higher oceans (why would they be?). Climate change changes the equations and calculations of managing disasters in cities. They’re forced to adapt, regardless of how many solar panels are slapped onto rooftops.

It’s a complicated issue. Greenhouse gasses trap in more heat in the atmosphere, causing a bunch of crazy environmental things to happen. So the obvious response is to stop pumping carbon into the air. That’s Al Gore’s primary message.

The problem with this is that storms and fires and diseases are increasing as a result from rising temperatures. Climate change is occurring regardless of mitigation. Thus, the impacts have to be dealt with. In fact, our troubles are only going to increase. I choose to be on the impacts side of this conundrum (eg, adaptation).

Some other topics:

Cheers,

Michael

Solid questions to contemplate by Moyers.