Climate Adaptation


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This is what Okinawa woke up to on Monday morning, around 5:30am. For once I am actually glad I couldn’t get my early morning run in!

—Jannine Myers

Interesting disaster notification app. Any followers know about this app? Where could I find more information?

(via npr)

Cute dog was playing catch with himself.

Hang up the harpoons, Japan

Four good reasons it should stop ‘scientific’ whaling. Here.

Japanese earthquake literally made waves in Norway

And, there’s a video… 

The bigger the earthquake, the louder it rings. And the magnitude 9.0 quake that struck just off the coast of Japan on March 11, 2011 was very big, indeed.

Scientific instruments like seismometers are sensitive enough to pick up seismic waves from distant earthquakes, even on their second or third trip around the planet. (Satellites have even detected the accompanying atmospheric waves.) It doesn’t always take super-precise measurements to know something is happening, however. A groundwater monitoring well in Virginia made the passage of seismic waves from the 2011 Tohoku earthquake quite clear in the form of a rapid two foot rise in water level.

While the tsunami that accompanied the earthquake in Japan was devastating, waves of a very different sort were spawned far away—in the fjords of Norway. A number of witnesses noticed the strange waves, occurring as they did on a calm morning when the fjord waters were otherwise smooth. As some managed to capture on video

More elephant slaughters. We’re up to 30,000 kills every year now. Assault rifles are the kill tool of choice. Ivory collectors in Japan and China are major drivers of this poaching trend.

Durban - Gunmen allied to the Seleka rebel group, who killed 13 South African soldiers six weeks ago in the Central African Republic (CAR), have started to massacre forest elephants in a World Heritage Site.

Rod Cassidy, a South African tour operator who fled the CAR by boat the day after the military coup, said he had received information that a group of at least 17 heavily armed men entered the Dzanga-Sangha national park this week. Gunfire was heard on Tuesday night.

The gunmen appeared to be targeting forest elephants at Dzanga-Bai, a world-famous forest clearing and salt-lick where elephants gather every night.

A former Durban man, Cassidy set up a tourism lodge in the elephant sanctuary four years ago. He fled from the park with his wife and son on March 24, shortly after the Seleka rebel group entered Bangui, the capital of the republic.

“Gunshots were heard throughout the night. The situation is very worrying for the future of our heritage,” a senior park official pleaded in an e-mail.

“The government is aware of the massacres. Please put pressure on the NGOs and other partners to save the situation.” 

Dzanga-Sangha national park, in the south-western corner of the country bordering Cameroon and the Republic of Congo, was declared part of a three-nation World Heritage Site last year.

Officials at the World Heritage Centre in Paris could not be reached for comment on Tuesday night. Late last week, however, Unesco director-general Irina Bokova voiced “deep concern” about the looming threat to the park’s population of forest elephants, gorillas and bongo antelope.

Noting that almost 30,000 elephants were being shot for ivory every year across Africa, Bokova said her organisation was alarmed by the surge in elephant poaching in central Africa and she noted that there had been a series of attacks by armed men in the vicinity of Dzanga-Sangha in recent weeks.

The park has more than 3 000 forest elephants, whose “pink” ivory is prized in Japan.

Interesting conference recap for my resilience, cities, and adaptation readers. Focus seems to have been on public-private partnerships in rebuilding after disasters - getting NGOs, non-profits, and governments together to discuss how to better plan and manage environmental risks. Big fan of the international flavors at this event.


In 2011 a couple of months after the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear aftermath, the Global Platform for Disaster Reduction, which also hosted the first World Reconstruction Conference, brought together almost 3000 people working on reducing disaster risks and building resilient communities. This included several Heads of State, Ministers, a Managing Director of the World Bank, over 2,600 delegates representing 163 Governments, 25 inter-governmental organizations, 65 non-governmental organizations, parliamentarians, private sector, local government, academic institutions, civil society and international organizations.

The Chair’s Summary of the 2011 event identified 9 ways to place DRR at the forefront to preserve and protect the balance of nature and ensure sustainable development and well-being of future generations. This included supporting local government, drawing on the untapped potential of local actors, building on the role of women as change agents, involving children and youth in decisions that affect their future, engaging the private sector, building on the role of parliamentarians in setting policy, promoting cooperation at the local, national, and regional levels,  supporting the scientific and technical communities to inform decisions, and supporting UNISDR in its leadership role in within the UN on DRR.

Above, the gigantic Jirau Dam is one of 34(!) hydroelectric dams being built in the Amazon by Brazil. Thousands of people and dozens of communities and towns will be flooded by the dams. Meanwhile, environmentalists are left out of negotiations.

When it is completed in 2015, the Jirau hydroelectric dam will span the Madeira River, feature more giant turbines than any other dam in the world and hold as much concrete as 47 towers the size of New York’s Empire State Building.

And then there are the power lines, draped along 2,200 km of forests and fields to carry electricity from the middle of South America to Brazil’s urban nerve center, Sao Paulo.  Still, it won’t be enough.

The Jirau Dam and the Santo Antonio complex that is being built a few kilometers downstream will provide just 5 percent of what government energy planners say Brazil will need in the next 10 years. 

So the country is building more dams, many more, courting controversy by locating the vast majority of them in the world’s largest and most biodiverse forest.

Excellent coverage by the Japan Times

Scientific consensus on climate change is at 97%, which might be the highest agreement among any of the sciences.

Temp graph via: NASA

Whaling ship uses 80% deisel, 20% whale oil - “For the environment.”

Whale oil to fuel whaling ships is a gruesome and surreal proposition 

An Icelandic whaler, Kristján Loftsson, is powering his whaling ships using “biofuel” composed of 80% diesel – and 20% whale oil. Loftsson claims the oil is additionally friendly to the environment as it is rendered out of whale blubber using heat from Iceland’s volcanic vents.

The story might seem a bizarre development even in the Alice in Wonderland world of modern whaling, where Japanese whaling fleets claim to be conducting “scientific research” and the US, while striking a vehemently anti-whaling stance, nonetheless supports aboriginal hunting of bowhead whales that might otherwise live as long as 200 years.

Via The Guardian

Hello! I am studying International Relations with a Minor in Environmental Policy/Law. I am currently writing a paper on Hypoxia in Japan. Know of any good documentaries or places I could visit with good information?

A question by stayholden

Hey stayholden, Best I can think of is NOAA’s hypoxia projects. There’s also research on the Great Lakes, which I’m sure you’re aware of. But maybe check out the work being done on Lake Balaton in Hungary. Sounds like an interesting research project. Do keep in touch! m

Perceived timings of economic crisis and climate change prevent action

Surprisingly bold call for adapting to climate change by Chiemi Hayashi of the WEF. She calls for heavy investments in climate adaptation now while leaders figure out how to tackle the current economic crisis.

She doesn’t quiet say it, but Hayashi implies that efforts to reduce carbon emissions have failed. And since those efforts have failed, we have to deal with two crises that are sneaking up on us right now: an economic crisis and a disaster management crisis.

Climate change threats are being neglected to tackle short term economic stresses but it would be wise to invest in climate change adaptation now.

The world is facing an unprecedented dual crisis. But with economic and environmental stresses playing out over different timeframes, deep-rooted biases in the way we judge risks may mean we are too preoccupied with firefighting short-term economic problems to tackle longer-term climate threats.

That is one of the key messages to emerge from the Global Risks 2013 report, published by the World Economic Forum. The report is based on an annual survey in which experts share their perceptions of how global risks may unfold over a 10-year time horizon.

Highlighted concerns left no doubt that the continuing fallout from the financial crisis of five years ago is likely to dominate leaders’ attention over the coming decade. Growth prospects remain relatively weak, and intense pressure on public finances is set to continue.

Meanwhile, experts rated the systemically most important environmental risk to be failure to adapt to climate change – in contrast to last year, when rising greenhouse gas emissions topped the results. This reflects a wider shift in recent conversation on climate change, from the question of whether our climate is changing to “by how much” and “how quickly”.

The transition can be seen in a spate of recent reports on climate adaptation efforts. Examples of adaptation initiatives include flood defences for coastal cities, strengthening the capacity of critical infrastructure to survive freak weather events, and researching crop varieties which are more able to withstand swings between extremes of drought and flood.

While the numbers involved vary widely according to different climate change scenarios, it is clear that the costs of investing in adaptation measures and curtailing greenhouse gas emissions are greatly outweighed by the likely future costs of failing to do so. One recent report by Mercer estimates the economic costs of climate change as likely to fall between $2tn and $4tn and (£1.25tn and £2.5tn) by 2030. In addition, we are observing nascent trends of climate change-related litigations, which could compound the cost of climate change significantly.

Logic dictates that it would be wise to bear the costs of investing in climate change adaptation now, rather than shouldering the greater future costs of climate-related disasters. However, humans suffer from several well-established cognitive biases which may hold us back from doing so.

The term “hyperbolic discounting” refers to the tendency to give immediate costs and benefits disproportionately more weight than delayed ones. Researchers have also found that we place too much emphasis on recent personal experience when estimating the future likelihood of a given risk occurring – for instance, taking out flood insurance immediately after a flood, and letting it lapse after a few years without a flood.

The cumulative effect of such cognitive biases is that we tend to find reasons to persuade ourselves that it is not necessary to focus on risks which are perceived to be long term, creeping and relatively uncertain. And while some degree of climate change is now inevitable, there remains great uncertainty about its likely extent and local manifestations.

The latter is especially significant, as climate adaptation is inherently local.

This is a great article. Honest and clear-eyed. I highly recommend my followers to take some time to read it. Via The Guardian

A puffer fish made this for his nice lady friend. A diver in Japan filmed this never before seen hatchery/nest. It measures about 6.5 feet across and consists of a circle with geometric spokes in the shape of ridges, sort of like the spokes on a wheel. 

Underwater cameras showed that the artist was a small puffer fish who, using only his flapping fin, tirelessly worked day and night to carve the circular ridges. The unlikely artist – best known in Japan as a delicacy, albeit a potentially poisonous one – even takes small shells, cracks them, and lines the inner grooves of his sculpture as if decorating his piece. Further observation revealed that this “mysterious circle” was not just there to make the ocean floor look pretty. Attracted by the grooves and ridges, female puffer fish would find their way along the dark seabed to the male puffer fish where they would mate and lay eggs in the center of the circle. In fact, the scientists observed that the more ridges the circle contained, the more likely it was that the female would mate with the male. The little sea shells weren’t just in vain either. The observers believe that they serve as vital nutrients to the eggs as they hatch, and to the newborns.

More pictures and full story at Spoon & Tamago.

Update: Click to see how climate change affects puffer fish.

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Breaking/happening now: 80-100 dolphins rounded up for annual slaughter ritual in Taiji, Japan. First pic with the sign is from today. Though, word is the slaughter began late this afternoon. The second picture is from last year’s round-up.

They essentially wrangle the dolphin in to this hidden area, have dolphin-trainers from around the world come pick out dolphins they think are worth training, and then the fishermen kill the rest.

The people of Japan don’t really know what’s happening because the local and national government keeps it a giant secret. The killing also takes places in a giant alcove where no one can see how the dolphins are killed. Via.

Movie about the slaughter: The Cove.

Current petition Japanese government.

UPDATE: CNN ireport