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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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.

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.

Via Climate Central

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.

Shanghai in 1987 and 2013. Via

Links to the rest of the cities, here. What’s surprised me most was Oakland, California(!) made the final cut. Also, Bill Clinton and Olosegun Obasanjo were on the panel. Bizarre stuff.

Creating and Expanding Funding Streams for Adaptation Planning and Implementation

Cities and communities are confronted with planning and implementing climate adaptation with very few resources available to help pay for the help they need. Adaptation funding is competing against already limited funding for schools, police, and libraries from scarce local resources. So, while adaptation is a responsible long-term investment for communities, it is usually very difficult to secure adequate funding for planning and implementation. During this webinar we will explore ways to use existing mandates for implementing adaptation, give an example of how adaptation is moving forward in the City of Cleveland, and provide a forum for discussion on challenges and creative ways to move adaptation forward.

This webinar is the first of the National Adaptation Webinar Series and is sponsored by EcoAdapt and Georgetown Law Center and hosted by CAKEx.org.
Agenda
This webinar will focus on identifying existing adaptation funding streams and using existing resources and mandates to implement adaptation. 
Webinar will take place from 1:00-2:00 PM EST 

1:00-1:15Lara Hansen. Ph.D.Chief Scientist and Executive Director, EcoAdapt, will discuss "The State of Adaptation in the United States". Download the presentation.
1:15-1:30Sara P. HoverterSenior Fellow (health & climate) and Adjunct Professor, Georgetown Law Center, will discuss federal opportunities and challenges to supporting state and local adaptation. Download the presentation.

1:30-1:45 Jenita McGowan, Chief of Sustainability, City of Cleveland will discuss the Cleveland Climate Action Plan and the challenges and plans for implementation. Download the presentation.

1:45-2:00 Open discussion and questions for panel members.
Excellent adaptation webinar from EcoAdapt and CAKEX.

Good read of the day. Skip to the first four paragraphs though.

I am seriously considering stringing for Al Jazeera after my USAID adaptation contract is up. They are, by far in my opinion, leading the world in media, journalism, investigations, and “tone.”

Huffington Post (yes, HuffPo) published an excellent article on how U.S. cities are not even closely prepared for hurricanes, sea-level rise, or strong storms.

They point out that these vulnerabilities are our own doing. NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg admits to assisting businesses and people build in harms way.

Bloomberg has in general been skeptical about actually limiting development on the water. “People like to live in low-lying areas, on the beach; it’s attractive,” he told a reporter after Sandy. “People pay more, generally, to be closer to the water, even though you could argue they should pay less because it’s more dangerous. But people are willing to run the risk.”

The city’s progress on adapting to storm surge risk has so far consisted mainly of smaller steps, like working with private and public players to harden the electrical grid and seal off the subway system against the threat of flooding.

In other words, city officials are too scared, too weak, or just too ignorant to warn citizens that their lives, investments, or families are at high risk from obliteration. This is not an exaggeration. Even local officials shrug their shoulders when it comes to developing along risky ocean fronts:

Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, argued that development along the Jersey Shore has been ongoing for decades, even before there was a coastal permitting program. He said it is not the state’s role to dictate how redevelopment should occur.

“People who live along the shore always live with a risk, and they know that. That’s understood,” he said. “We at the state are not going to tell these towns you can or cannot rebuild, but we will work with them to make sure that whatever comes back will be done in as smart or protective a fashion as possible.”

Telling.

What’s worse is that these cities and towns claim they are “vital” pieces of the U.S. economy. Yet, they’re not willing (or capable) to pay for clean up and rebuilding after a storm hits - that’s forced upon the American tax payer…

A rare, great read at HuffPo: Hurricane Sandy Damage Amplified By Breakneck Development Of Coast

1) The Philippines has become increasingly vulnerable to typhoons for lots of reasons — and climate change is only one angle here.

Thanks to basic geography, the Philippines has long been one of the most storm-ravaged places on Earth, with about 8 to 9 typhoons making landfall each year, on average. The warm waters surrounding the island nation help fuel strong tropical cyclones, and there are few natural barriers to slow the storms down or break them up. …
2) Typhoons aren’t the only natural disaster the Philippines has to worry about. … But the precise risks are often difficult to pinpoint — and that makes preparation even harder. Many climate models still have trouble making predictions at a very fine-grained, regional level. And typhoons are especially difficult to forecast: While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change thinks it’s “likely” that tropical cyclones will get stronger as the oceans warm, it’s less clear how the frequency of storms will change in the years ahead (they may even become less frequent).

3) Adaptation can help, but it’s not always enough. Many countries have managed to reduce their exposure to natural disasters over the years by implementing detailed adaptation plans. If climate change does increase the risk of natural disasters in the years ahead, then those plans will become increasingly important. …

Bangladesh, for instance, has steadily reduced the number of deaths from tropical cyclones since the 1970s through early-warning systems, shelters and evacuation plans, and building coastal embankments.

4) Where will the money come from for adaptation? There are two key questions that always come up at international climate talks like the one now going on in Warsaw. First, how will the world cut its carbon emissions to slow global warming? And second, where will the money come from to help poorer states prepare for its effects? The second question is likely to get more attention in the wake of Haiyan. …

"We have received no climate finance to adapt or to prepare ourselves for typhoons and other extreme weather we are now experiencing," Saño told the Guardian. “It cannot be a way of life that we end up running always from storms.”

The Washington Post covers climate adaptation FTW!

Do you think this new EO will have an effect on green energy funding? Could we see another wind energy boom like the one back at the beginning of Obama's first term?
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hey impulsivefarmer!

Thanks for following me all this time. Honestly, I don’t know. The new EO is mostly focused on infrastructure and disaster preparedness. Things like how the Federal Government can help communities better prepare for inevitable climate impacts that will occur, such as wild fires, health impacts, coastal erosion, economic resilience. Things like that. 

So, this particular Executive Order is focused on adaptation and resilience for cities, and doesn’t really focus on prevention. In fact, there’s a package of resilience actions that the President has taken published right on the White House website: “Climate Change Resilience | The White House”.

I don’t focus on prevention, so I’ll have to direct you to Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which has several energy initiatives that might interest you.

Cheers!

Michael

An Executive Order to Protect Our Communities

The Obama Administration has taken significant steps to strengthen the climate resilience of America’s communities and economy.  More than 30 Federal agencies developed their first-ever Climate Change Adaptation Plans, outlining strategies to protect their operations, programs, and investments to better serve communities and safeguard our public resources in the face of climate change.  In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Administration has provided resources to rebuild the affected area to be more resilient than before, including support for more climate-resilient roads and infrastructure, and projects that protect drinking water and buffer communities from flooding.  In addition, Federal agencies have partnered with states, cities, tribes, and the private sector to develop strategies to address the impacts of climate change on our freshwater resources, oceans and coasts, and wildlife. Agencies have also built new, data-driven tools to help decision makers and resource managers map and plan for future sea level rise. From Florida to Minnesota, and from Alaska to New York, Federal agencies have partnered with communities to provide funding and technical assistance to address local climate impacts such as sea level rise, flooding, and water scarcity.

To build on this progress, the Executive Order (E.O.) “Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change,” signed today directs Federal agencies to:

  • Modernize Federal programs to support climate-resilient investments: Agencies will examine their policies and programs and find ways to make it easier for cities and towns to build smarter and stronger. Agencies will identify and remove any barriers to resilience-focused actions and investments– for example, policies that encourage communities to rebuild to past standards after disasters instead of to stronger standards – including through agency grants, technical assistance, and other programs in sectors from transportation and water management to conservation and disaster relief.
  • Manage lands and waters for climate preparedness and resilience: America’s natural resources are critical to our Nation’s economy, health and quality of life.  The E.O. directs agencies to identify changes that must be made to land- and water-related policies, programs, and regulations to strengthen the climate resilience of our watersheds, natural resources, and ecosystems, and the communities and economies that depend on them. Federal agencies will also evaluate how to better promote natural storm barriers such as dunes and wetlands, as well as how to protect the carbon sequestration benefits of forests and lands to help reduce the carbon pollution that causes climate change. 
  • Provide information, data and tools for climate change preparedness and resilience: Scientific data and insights are essential to help communities and businesses better understand and manage the risks associated with extreme weather and other impacts of climate change.  The E.O. instructs Federal agencies to work together and with information users to develop new climate preparedness tools and information that state, local, and private-sector leaders need to make smart decisions.  In keeping with the President’s Open Data initiative, agencies will also make extensive Federal climate data accessible to the public through an easy-to-use online portal.
  • Plan for climate change related risk: Recognizing the threat that climate change poses to Federal facilities, operations and programs, the E.O. builds on the first-ever set of Federal agency adaptation plans released earlier this year and directs Federal agencies to develop and implement strategies to evaluate and address their most significant climate change related risks.  

To implement these actions, the E.O. establishes an interagency Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, chaired by the White House and composed of more than 25 agencies. To assist in achieving the goals of the E.O., these agencies are directed to consider the recommendations of the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.”

Read the FACT SHEET, here

President Obama issues new Executive Order, “Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change." The new EO, issued November 1st, directs the agencies to

1) Federal infrastructure spending will have to take climate into account. Agencies are supposed to examine their policies and find ways to help states prepare for the effects of climate change.

So, for example, federal disaster-relief programs that help coastal communities rebuild after a storm or flood will have to take into account the possibility that the next storm or flood could be even worse. Likewise, roads and bridges built with federal money will have to be planned with changing climate conditions — such as future sea-level rise — in mind.

2) Water- and land- management will get revamped. Agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior will have to review their land- and water-management policies to take shifting conditions into account.

For example, agencies will have to ”evaluate how to better promote natural storm barriers such as dunes and wetlands” and figure out “how to protect the carbon sequestration benefits of forests and lands to help reduce the carbon pollution that causes climate change.” (The EPA has already released its plans to this effect.)

3) The federal government will try to provide better data on what climate impacts are actually coming. As part of the executive order, federal agencies are supposed to offer better information “that state, local, and private-sector leaders need to make smart decisions.” - WaPo

It’s an integrative approach, folding climate science and data into decision making at the federal level. Each agency was directed to create an adaptation policy back in 2011. Now the agencies have to implement their plans and use the National Climate Assessment and other findings from peer-reviewed climate scientists. This new EO builds upon several(!) orders by the President, including Executive Order 13514, which I wrote about here.

Download report here