Climate Adaptation

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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“ It is hard to escape the conclusion that the US Congress has entered the intellectual wilderness, a sad state of affairs in a country that has led the world in many scientific arenas for so long. Global warming is a thorny problem, and disagreement about how to deal with it is understandable. It is not always clear how to interpret data or address legitimate questions. Nor is the scientific process, or any given scientist, perfect. But to deny that there is reason to be concerned, given the decades of work by countless scientists, is irresponsible. ”

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~ A paragraph from ‘Into Ignorance’, an editorial published today in Nature, one of the world’s most respected science journals. The article comments on current Republican efforts to prevent the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. In 2009, the EPA determined that greenhouse gases “threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.”

Note, with Japan, Bahrain, and Libya on fire, Republicans held emergency meetings to defund NPR. Today, they’re banning abortion funding. Regardless of opinions on NPR and abortion, it is crystal clear this Congress is completely out of touch.

Japan’s Climate Adaptation Plans - Quick Overview

Japan’s climate adaptation planning is simple, (1) identify problems from climate change, (2) fix them.

1) Identify Problems:

Climate science is used to identify impacts from climate change. Change in the tightly packed country affects all aspects of Japanese lives, including:

  • Reduced yields and lower quality agricultural produce (rice, apples, fish) due to higher temps
  • Increases in household spending due to:
     * Higher agricultural commodity prices
     * Air-conditioning costs
     * Expenditures for adaptation measures
  • Loss of a sense of season (how interesting! m)
  • More air pollution
  • Decline of Japanese Beech trees, other native trees, and rare alpine plants
  • Changes in ecosystems due to sluggish vertical circulation of lakes
  • Reduction in the distribution of cold water fish in freshwater environments
  • Increase in heatstroke patients brought on by excessive heat
  • Broader distribution of mosquitoes carrying infectious diseases (a serious problem for parents of children. m)
  • Water cutoffs due to record low rainfalls
  • Severe infrastructure and building damage caused by storm surges 
  • Inundation (eg, coastal and inland floods) damage from more intense rainfall


Flood problems from climate change in Japan. Source: Wise Adaptation to Climate Change in Japan, here.

2) Fix them:

Japan’s plans to fix the above problems are straight forward: Incorporate adaptation to climate change into existing policy areas and related plans, including land-use plans, city planning, agricultural policies, nature conservation policies and local government environmental policies.

At a general level, early intervention is based on cooperation from politicians and policy integration into civic life. “Early intervention” is preventative, the USA by comparison, tends to punt on preventing predicted climate impacts and related disasters.

Integration of climate change into plans start with standard assessments. These are tools already used by policy makers and planners to assess vulnerabilities to natural disasters. Assess a neighborhood for flood potential, and engineer a solution. Pretty straight forward stuff, and they use the same tools but tweaked to include climate forecasting.

After assessments are made, they follow regular policy making procedures (eg, by committee and then vote). Next, plans are made and passed into law. Finally, the plans are carried out to address the vulnerabilities identified in the assessments:  strengthen bridges prone to floods, start beach renourishment programs, plant trees to prevent landslides, build dikes etc, fiddle with new GMO rice strains, etc. All pretty mundane and straight forward stuff. 


Challenge for Japan is integration of climate science into all plans. To date, most adaptation efforts have been project based, meaning that once a vulnerable bridge is identified, they re-engineer it and move on. New bridges have yet to incorporate climate adaptation into engineering schematics (earth quakes, however, are mandatory).

Basically (I’m trying to keep this simple, let me know how I can improve), for Japan, adapting to climate change is results oriented, and does not require changes to basic policy structures or massive influxes of tax revenues.

You can blast through this PPT for more information on Japan’s climate adaptation successes through 2009. See also this report from leading climate scientists in Japan.

Last chance to register for IETA’s Carbon Forum North America (Joe Lieverman, Davide Sandalow, Gary Guzy)

IETA’s Carbon Forum North America is less than a week away. Don’t miss your chance to joinone of the most distinguished groups of speakers ever assembled in the carbon market space on March 14-15 at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC. Online registration closes this Saturday, register now. Carbon Forum North America’s five plenaries, eight breakouts, and six special keynote sessions feature more than 80 confirmed speakers, including:

  • The Honorable Joe Lieberman
  • Assistant Secretary of Energy David Sandalow
  • The Honorable Collin Peterson
  • The Honorable John Garamendi
  • California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols
  • White House Council on Environmental Quality Deputy Director Gary S. Guzy
  • Resources for the Future President Phil Sharp
  • Bipartisan Policy Center President Jason Grumet
  • Conservation International Chairman and CEO Peter Seligman
  • "father of emissions trading" Dan Dudek
  • UNFCCC Sustainable Development Mechanisms Director John Kilani
View the full program

“ "Congress is the appropriate branch of the federal government to debate and design a climate change policy. I do not appreciate the implied threat that if Congress does not go along with the EPA, the agency will impose costly regulations. This bill is about preserving the traditional and constitutional role of Congress as elected representatives of the citizens of this country to make necessary and proper laws for our nation." Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) ”

GLOBAL WARMING: CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE LAW Fifth Annual Conference

ABA always hosts the highest quality speakers.

April 7-8, Washington, D.C.
Sponsors: ALI-ABA and Environmental Law Institute

Also available as live webcast

PROGRAM

Thursday, April 7

8:45 a.m. — Course overview
9:00 a.m. — Keynote address
9:30 a.m. — Mandatory and voluntary greenhouse gas reporting
11:00 a.m. — Emerging standards for stationary sources

1:45 p.m. — Regional, state and local regulation
3:30 p.m. — International negotiations and trade


Friday, April 8

9:00 a.m. — Keynote address
9:30 a.m. — Climate change litigation
11:15 a.m. — Ethical issues for the environmental practitioner

1:30 p.m. — Legislative and policy developments
2:30 p.m. — Energy issues — The future of fuels, renewables, and energy efficiency
4:00 p.m.— Adjournment


Planning Chairs:

Michael B. Gerrard, Columbia Law School and Arnold & Porter
Scott E. Schang, Environmental Law Institute
Robert A. Wyman, Jr., Latham & Watkins

Further information and registration for in-person attendance or live video webcast:

http://www.ali-aba.org/cs033

NASA/NOAA Study: Nuclear War Could Reverse Global Warming

exogenerian:

Even a regional nuclear war could spark “unprecedented” global cooling and reduce rainfall for years, according to U.S. government computer models.

Widespread famine and disease would likely follow.

Source National Geographic.

(via reagan-was-a-horrible-president)

British Panel Clears Climate Scientists in so-called “Climategate”

Scientists are officially cleared in 100% of reviews (6 reviews, total) Climate deniers’ claims remain crumbled. See also, here, and here.

A British panel on Wednesday exonerated the scientists caught up in the controversy known as Climategate of charges that they had manipulated their research to support preconceived ideas about global warming.

Read the rest, here.

Call for Papers: Climate Economics and Law Conference: Bern, Switzerland

Call for Papers 

The NCCR Climate invites scientists to the Climate Economics and Law Conference that will take place on 16 and 17 June 2011 in Bern, Switzerland. Key issues covered by the conference are:

  • Mitigation, adaptation and technological change
  • Trade regulations and unilateral climate policies

Each topic includes two keynote plenary lectures and numerous parallel sessions.

The conference is open to all interested researchers. Contributions from a broad spectrum of climate economics and law research issues and from the two key topics, in particular, are welcome. Overall, the conference aims to foster cross-disciplinary links.

Read More

Pro-Geoengineering

In my previous post, I touched upon a few reasons why I’m against geoengineering. I also expressed dismay at Oxford University’s call for a post-doc researcher geoengineering, which seems to show momentum is building for this type of tinkering. Governments - and this is my bottom line - are too politically immature to handle managing the earth’s weather.

We can’t even manage basic issues of flooding, as we’ve seen time and again, because it’s too politically sensitive. After all, which honest government is going to tell millions of people they have to move from risky floodplains? None that I can think of. Not putting homes and businesses in harms way is the most obvious(!) solution to avoid flooding. Yet, for reasons mainly political, we just cannot do that. The result is we get wasteful, expensive, and plain stupid rebuilds in the most dangerous places, Haiti, New Orleans, Indonesia, Brazil, Australia, San Fransisco, etc. If we cannot manage a relatively few homes, how are we going to manage all homes, for all species, for all centuries?

David W. Keith wrote a chapter titled, Engineering the Planet, in the book, Climate Change Science & Policy. In it, he lays out the pro-arguments for geoengineering. Take a look below at Keith’s argument for geoengineering. You buying it? 

  1. Geoengineering is “intentional, large-scale manipulation of the environment.” Environmental change must be the goal rather than a side effect, and intent and effect of manipulation must be large in scale;
  2. Two primary geoengineering methods are adding aerosols to the atmosphere and construction of giant shields in space to scatter sunlight.
    • While sulfur injection geoengineering would mimic impacts of other anthropogenic activities, e.g. coal combustion, a key distinction is that this intervention would be intentional, opening “a new chapter in humanity’s relationship with the Earth;”
    • The Presidential Science Advisory Committee report submitted to President Johnson was the first major government policy document to draw attention to potential impact of carbon dioxide emissions on climate. But, it offered only one potential response, which was dispersing reflective particles in the atmosphere;
    • Sulfur injection schemes would cost roughly a factor of ten less than mitigation options to address climate change. Such options could be in the reach of rich individuals or foundations;
    • While some studies indicate that sulfur injection could adversely impact the ozone layer, the use of absorbing aerosols could offset some or all of these effects
    • Space-based sunshields would have fewer and more predictable side effects than aerosol injection
    • Just as safer cars may encourage more aggressive driving, geoengineering options could reduce incentive to cut emissions. However, geoengineering might be necessary if aggressive mitigation strategies prove to be insufficient, e.g. if climate’s sensitivity to carbon dioxide proves greater than projected or our mitigation measures still fail to prevent rapid deglaciation and substantial sea level rise. Geoengineering shouldn’t be viewed as a substitute for mitigation, because to do so would require an ever growing scale of technological compensation to offset growing carbon dioxide measures. Geoengineering could be used in conjunction with mitigation to reduce risks of climate change during the period of peak carbon dioxide concentrations;
  3. It’s misleading to argue that we shouldn’t pursue geoengineering options because of the impossibility of predicting systemic responses. Should concentrations of greenhouse gases rise to 600ppm, it’s unreasonable to argue that the risks of 600ppm along would be larger than the risks of 600ppm and deployment of a geoengineering scheme.

Climate Change Class in Tokyo

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS

Spring 2011 Postgraduate Courses on

Building Resilience to Climate Change

28 February – 25 March 2011

Tokyo, Japan

U.N. Univ., Institute for Sustainability and Peace

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DEADLINE: 21 January 2011

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The United Nations University Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP), Tokyo, invites applications for the new intensive 4-week postgraduate programme on  “Building Resilience to Climate Change” developed under the framework of the University Network for Climate and Ecosystems Change Adaptation Research (UN-CECAR).

The new courses, conducted at UNU-ISP, cover a range of issues on sustainability and adaptation to climate and ecosystems change. Topics include:

Read More

“ Prohibitive cartography has its own graphic rhetoric. Because efficient enforcement depends on well-defined territorial restrictions, the primary symbol on most prohibitive maps is the boundary line, underscored perhaps by labels and contrasting colors. By convention, small-scale political maps printed in colors rely heavily on dissimilar hues—when France is green and Germany is purple, there’s less need for the prominent dot-and-dashed “international boundary” symbol common on graytone maps. The mapmaker can emphasize national sovereignty with thick, solid black lines—the most prominent symbol on many State Department maps—or underscore disputed or otherwise tentative boundaries with equally thick dashed lines. By contrast, the thinner, less prominent dot-and-dashed line is a convenient, readily understood code useful with less strident atlas maps, on which political boundaries have a weaker claim to continuity than roads, railways, and rivers. By chance, line symbols with periodic gaps afford a more accurate representation of boundaries like the U.S.-Mexico border, which is far more permeable than an unbroken line might suggest. ”

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From the good folks at fuckyeahcartography, identifying a continuing issue with political border disputes - where to place the lines? From a strong book on the history of maps, it covers everything from the need to delineate Egyptian property boundaries for agriculture, to Thomas Jefferson’s Public Land Survey System (the PLSS explains why America is mostly a grid).

MONMONIER, Mark. “No Dig, No Fly, No Go. How maps restrict and control”. The University of Chicago Press. Chicago, 2010. p.3 (via graphicdesignrhetoric)

(via fuckyeahcartography)