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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The Center for American Progress is a DC based think tank that works on several policy issues, including energy, national security, immigration, education, and health care.

They’re starting to get involved in climate adaptation, which is the process of lowering risk from environmental harms. And they recently published an interesting paper that aims to motivate the Federal Government to invest in America’s infrastructure and resilience policies. For those new to the issues of resilience, this makes for a decent primer. For those familiar with the concepts, the section on making the business case might be most interesting. The paper is here. Below is an edited excerpt:

It is time for a national strategy for infrastructure resilience

There are three parts to forming a national strategy for infrastructure resilience. First, the federal government should launch a national infrastructure-vulnerability assessment that evaluates the ability of the nation’s current infrastructure to withstand climate-related extreme weather. Second, the Obama administration should build on the proposals laid out in its FY 2014 budget and harmonize financial resources to invest in these resiliency projects in a coordinated way. Third, the administration should elevate resiliency as a priority by tasking cabinet-level officials to work systematically with cities and states in directing these resources.

A national strategy is needed to reduce infrastructure vulnerability to climate change. If we don’t, then federal funding for disaster relief becomes much more expensive.

For this reason, it is essential that the federal government tightly link its work on infrastructure investment as an engine of economic prosperity with the expanding priority it has placed on resilience.

We recommend that the president, Congress, mayors, and governors work together to make an immediate commitment to design a national strategy for infrastructure resilience.

To realize this plan, the president should act immediately to:

1. Launch a national infrastructure-vulnerability assessment: Improve the availability and usability of information on infrastructure needs and resilience. It would look systematically at the ability of U.S. transportation, energy, water, communications, and other strategic infrastructure to hold up to both current and future threats.

2. Establish a comprehensive federal infrastructure-investment strategy: This would build on recent commitments in the administration’s budget plan, and would both access new financial tools and better harmonize existing financing authorities within the federal government to more effectively leverage public and private capital in priority-infrastructure investments.

3. Create an infrastructure and resilience council: The council would function as a working group within the president’s own cabinet to support presidential leadership in improving coordination across all federal agencies and in partnering with cities and states to accelerate the development of these priority-resilience projects by increasing public and private investment.

President Obama has already taken important steps to lay the foundation for a national infrastructure-resilience plan. In Executive Order 13514, signed into effect in October 2009, the president called on agencies to “evaluate agency climate-change risks and vulnerabilities to manage the effects of climate change on the agency’s operations and mission in both the short and long term.”

Since 2009 the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force—led by the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy—has been coordinating federal actions to reduce climate-change risks to federal assets and communities.

In February 2013 executive agencies released their plans to begin adapting to climate change. Additionally, the administration has already adopted national-action plans overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency to safeguard our oceans, fresh water, and fish, wildlife, and plants from the worst impacts of climate change. Though agencies have yet to develop a national resilience strategy for public infrastructure, Executive Order 13514 and the real rising risks of climate change give them the clear authority to do so.

Read the rest, here.

The scale of coral reef destruction in south Florida is enormous. Nearly 50% of the coral reefs have died in the past two decades. And the problem is getting worse.

But why does this matter? The Key’s reefs are among the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, and less coral has a cascading affect up the food chain. This affects the fishing and tourism industries, which (like it or not) makes Florida such a big draw. Coral reefs buffer coastal cities against storm surge, protecting countless real estate and businesses worth tens of billions. And in Florida Keys alone, there are over 33,000 jobs that depend on the reefs.

Check out PBS.org/climate-change. “The world’s ocean are absorbing carbon dioxide at an unprecedented rate and the resulting acidification is transforming marine ecosystems. We look at how ocean acidification is already affecting coral reefs in the Florida Keys.”

ecowatchorg:

EcoWatch is Hiring
Do you have what it takes to be a part of the fastest growing environmental news service?

PSA. Neat job. Via the hard working crew at EcoWatch.

ecowatchorg:

EcoWatch is Hiring

Do you have what it takes to be a part of the fastest growing environmental news service?

PSA. Neat job. Via the hard working crew at EcoWatch.

Keep in mind that the survey shows that climate change is a concern in Scandinavia, Switzerland, Canada, France, Austria, Germany, parts of Asia, New Zealand and others. Climate and environment ranked as lower concerns among countries struggling with economic growth, jobs, poverty, and health care. In other words, environment becomes more of a concern, it seems, when a country’s population is stable.

The surveys showed that when asked to rank priority worries, people were five times more likely to point to the economy over the environment.

Additionally, when asked about climate change, people identified the issue as more as a national problem than a personal concern.

Coordinated surveys, conducted by the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) in 33 countries from 1993 through 2010.

In the surveys, respondents were asked the relative importance of eight issues: health care, education, crime, the environment, immigration, the economy, terrorism and poverty.

The economy ranked highest in concern in 15 countries, followed by health care in eight, education in six, poverty in two, and terrorism and crime in one country each.

Immigration and the environment did not make the top of the list in any country over the 17-year period; in the United States, the economy ranked as the highest concern, while concern for the environment ranked sixth. In terms of national averages, the order of concern was the economy (25 percent); health care (22.2) education (15.6); poverty (11.6); crime (8.6) environment (4.7), immigration (4.1) and terrorism (2.6), the surveys showed.

Environmental issues are of greatest concern in Scandinavian nations, Switzerland and Canada. They were followed by France, Austria, Finland, the former West Germany, Taiwan, Korea, and New Zealand. Toward the bottom of the list are Croatia, Latvia, Chile, Turkey, Lithuania and Argentina.

Climate change was listed as the top environmental concern in Japan, West Germany, Canada, Britain and Scandinavia, where between 19 and 26 percent of the population indicated it was their top environmental issue.

Via Science Daily

Up to 15 workers at the Agnew gold mine in the Goldfields [Australia] have been sacked [fired] and banned for life from every Barminco project in the world after performing the Harlem Shake dance craze on site

Congress to cut $110 million, affecting every park in the Nation.

The automatic budget cuts set to take effect on March 1 will delay the opening of the East and West Rim drives at the Grand Canyon and reduce hours of operation at the main visitor center. At Gettysburg, 20 percent of student education programs would be eliminated this spring.

The Blue Ridge Parkway would lose 21 seasonal interpretive ranger programs, resulting in the closure of half of the park’s visitor stations and leaving 80 miles between each one.

Mount Rainer would permanently close a key visitor center, and Glacier would delay the opening of a well-visited mountain pass.

Five campgrounds and picnics area would close at the Great Smoky Mountains, affecting 54,000 visitors, and the Grand Tetons would close a visitor center, information station and preserve.

WaPo

What do young people want from government? You all know that I advocate for young, environmentally-minded people to put down their signs to join a local municipal board and/or <gasp> actually run for office.

The NYTimes covers a non-profit group based in Missoula, Montana that believes the same thing. (Missoula is a fantastic little town, btw).

Under-30 voters are “the only age group in which a majority said the government should do more to fix problems,” the nonpartisan Pew Research Center reported in November. In a Pew survey a year earlier, more than 8 in 10 said they believed that Social Security and Medicare had been good for the country, and they were especially supportive of seeing the programs overhauled so they would be intact when they retire. (Young people were also more open than their elders to privatizing the programs.)

And while Washington fights about how to cut the federal deficit, young voters believe that it is more important to create jobs, have affordable access to health care and develop “a world-class education system,” according to the Institute of Politics at Harvard.

Really good read: “In Montana, Young, Liberal and Open to Big Government" via NYTimes

That’s why my Administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits.
  • 350 Massachusetts coordinator
  • Better Future Project Natural Gas Organizer
  • Divest Harvard Research Associates
You answered: Hi! I would love some advice on consultancy please! I just started a job as an air quality specialist
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hey there,

Well, your question is vague, so I’d start by advising to research your target and focus your inquiries on one question or issue. I have no idea what you’re really asking, or what your interesting new job entails. Are you a consultant? Are you selling a product? Do you have a quota? Are you self employed?

There is so much to know about consulting. Jeez, now that I think about it, I could write a book.

I rarely hunt for new contracts these days. After years of building a network, contracts come to me now. In the beginning, when I first started out, I would research a firm or non-profit, target a person or persons from that organization (usually s/he makes decisions, little point in connecting with general staff). I’d research what that contact has done in the past - their former career, their writing style, what they’re into besides their job. This helps me personalize an email, which are usually short notes introducing myself and my services. Nothing pushy or salesy - just: “Hello Ms. Smith, I noticed you know my colleague Mr. Doe. We worked on blah project, which was great/interesting/a learning experience (code for failure). I also noticed you are working on blah project. If you need (name the appropriate service), look me up. Happy to contribute and offer references. Best, Michael”.

I cannot tell you how much work I’ve generated with that simple approach. Sometimes they respond a year later, but work is work.

I also maintain a complicated system of rosters and databases that track my clients, contacts, and proposals. I can’t describe it here, but I track everything, from email inquiries to business cards. It’s tedious, but hard work goes with the territory. When I meet people at conference talks, for example, I scribble a note on their card (date, where we met, what they look like, and interesting fact/s to help me recall their face). Then I translate those notes later that day in two spreadsheets, one that tracks that particular conference, the other in a general contact xls, which is sub-divided into coded categories.

The contact will advance to other xls sheets if I spot business or collaboration opportunities. Again, it’s complicated.

Anyway, those are the super basics. There are plenty of consultant forums on the net. Google around and good luck to you!

Michael

The Halley Research Station in Antarctica is run by the British Antarctic Survey. The station is used to conduct research into meteorology, glaciology, seismology, radio astronomy, and geospace science.

Recently, the program began focusing on anthropogenic climate change. Halley provides vital information for a global understanding of ozone depletion, polar atmospheric chemistry, sea-level rise and climate change.

The station is mobile, but will likely remain in place for years to come. It took four years to build, and delivered its first scientific research in 2012.

About 20 to 70 people work and live at the station throughout the year, depending on the season.

  • Background on living, working, research, history, the weather, and even a webcam: here
  • Curious about Halley’s governing institution, the British Antarctic Survey? Go here
  • Want a job at Halley station?! Click: Job Vacancies
  • More on the modular design: here
  • I enjoyed reading the profiles of the station’s variety of vehicles, including Snowmobiles, Sno-Cats, Bulldozers, Cranes, and Tractors with sno-tracks

About the architects. The station was designed by Hugh Broughton Architects, which specializes in extreme environment engineering for unique clients.

Our approach requires us to exercise the lateral thinking abilities of an architect to the full, taking us into new territories, exploring new forms of construction and drawing upon the full breadth of available technologies from a vast array of industries. This is epitomised by the success of our work for extreme environments, where we are one of the global leaders in the design of scientific research facilities in the Polar Regions. Via HBA

In Austerity Crisis, Greeks Turn to Wood-Burning, Illegal Logging

"A steep increase in heating costs has led many Greeks to switch from heating oil to wood-burning. But the price of using cheaper fuel is growing.

Illegal loggers are slashing through forests already devastated by years of summer wildfires. Air pollution from wood smoke is choking the country’s main cities. And there has been an increase in blazes caused by carelessly attended woodstoves.

Three children died in a northern village last month when a fire gutted the home of their grandparents, who had recently changed from oil-fueled central heating to a wooden stove to save money.

In Athens, the capital, officials have warned of severe health risks from the low-lying smog that smothers the city at night, when fireplaces and woodstoves burn at full blast in poorly insulated homes. Greece’s leading medical association is demanding urgent action to clean the air. But those warnings have largely been ignored for a simple reason: Burning wood provides the same warmth as heating oil, for roughly half the cost.

For the past three years, the country has been wracked by its worst financial crisis since the end of World War II. Living standards have plummeted, pensions have been slashed and a quarter of the workforce is unemployed, following deeply resented cutbacks demanded in return for international bailouts shielding Greece from total ruin.

The heating crisis was triggered by taxation changes, and made desperate by financial woes. For years, fuel for vehicles was taxed more heavily than heating oil. That encouraged crooked traders to sell heating fuel for use in vehicles and pocket the difference.

Hoping to boost faltering revenues and foil tax fraud, the government this year harmonized taxes on vehicle fuel and heating oil, which now costs about 40 percent more than last winter, although lower-income residents of colder areas get a rebate. Critics say the move backfired due to a drastic decline in sales.”

Via Weather

Part of this complicated issue is that Greeks aren’t used to paying market rates for basic services. Nor is the government itself used to the process of collecting taxes (sounds weird, but true). After recent austerity cuts, taxes and public services adjusted to (or attempt to) reflect a more market-oriented structure to help create a less corrupt, tax-dodging culture. The measures, as the above shows, may have been too strong and too fast, causing more damage to the country than taking a slower approach.

Job Description

The Climate Desk is an innovative journalistic partnership between eight news organizations—The AtlanticCenter for Investigative ReportingThe Guardian, GristMother JonesSlateWired, and PBS’s public-affairs show Need To Know—dedicated to exploring the impact of a changing climate. With the partnership expanding in scope and reach, we seek a compulsive networker to coordinate and guide new approaches to climate journalism. 

The project manager must be a senior journalist and project leader with serious digital chops who is excited about learning from and contributing to all the partner organizations. We’re looking for a dynamic innovator and skilled cat-herder who can spearhead a big reporting project (or two or five), provide support and guidance for a far-flung stable of producers and writers, and maintain close rapport with partner editors.

 The project manager will be the key liaison with partner organizations, each with varying and changing editorial needs, seeking to determine stories and strategies that complement their mission. She or he will work with CD’s producers and writers to create coverage that informs, reveals, and surprises, and will obsessively pursue ways to amplify that coverage far beyond the green choir.

Desired Skills & Experience

To succeed in this position, you’ll need:

  • Seven to ten years of journalistic experience in a news environment.
  • A nose for news and opportunity—a.k.a. creating and distributing content pegged to what people care about now
  • A keen competitive instinct and sharp eye for stories and memes that will go viral.
  • A passion for new forms of storytelling—multimedia, interactive, social, and yet-to-be-discovered
  • A strong affinity for and high comfort level in social media; proven track record engaging communities that care about content
  • Networking savvy: You’ll need to schmooze and charm and coax both within the partnership and identify new partners and ever-changing distribution channels.
  • Team-building smarts: Even more so than in most leadership jobs, relationships are key here
  • Nimbleness and comfort with multitasking: If you require a measured pace and highly structured environment, this may not be for you. If you’re ready for an entrepreneurial challenge, it is.
  • Sense of humor and grace under pressure: You can see why.
Via Media Bistro

Vile.

But why did I post this?

There’s an interesting section in this article, one that environmentalists can readily relate to, and that’s the “jobs defense.”

The Jobs Defense is a common response by businesses that fear new regulation. For those that know a bit of environmental and economic history, this defense been used effectively for centuries to tamp down protest, influence politicians, and garner public support.

The Jobs Defense was used to defend from regulating slavery, child labor, the right to vote, organize unions, pass environmental regulations, and myriad other policies that benefit you today.

In this case, a public meeting was called to democratically discuss how to prevent slaughtering children (dramatic, but that’s the language we’re using up here in New England regarding the Newtown, Ct mass shooting). True, the headline is about some brainless bullies who heckled a dad who lost his 6 year old boy.

But to me, the interesting aspect of this is that the journalist sort of dances around the examining the Jobs Defense.

A gun manufacturer is quoted in the article that his company, “(Pumps) tens of millions of dollars each year into the Connecticut economy.” The journalist does mention that gun manufacturers offered no solutions at the meeting. But the Jobs Defense went unchallenged.

There was no discussion or questioning that his product causes deaths.* There’s no discussion of why “tens of millions of dollars” is a reasonable response to the death of Americans. Isn’t that curious? That we all accept that the Jobs Defense is a so legitimate that it gets a free pass?

Barack Obama uses the Jobs Defense, too. In fact, it’s a primary driver of getting the Keystone XL Pipeline approved - jobs. Indeed, there are thousands of articles discussing jobs in relation to building the oil pipeline, have a look.

None of them, that I found, examined the benefits of environmental protection over the few jobs that the line will create. It’s true that some have examined the claim that the line will create a certain number of jobs. No one can say clearly if the line will create 500 jobs or 20,000.

But this still doesn’t examine the facile and rather weak argument that jobs should be a primary motivation versus incredibly beneficial, American alternatives. From my point of view, the Jobs Defense must be examined. Should jobs be held in reverence over human health? If so, why?

*For those who wish to throw the “What about knives!” trope at me, I’d point out that knives are highly regulated, perhaps more so than guns.
You can’t pass into many buildings with a knife, bring one on a plane, travel with one in a vehicle in certain states, nor legally carry a concealed knife in many communities. The size of certain knives are regulated. And types of knives are regulated, such as butterfly and other spring loaded knives.
You cannot cross a border with a knife, per international and domestic law. And police officers confiscate knives as a matter of routine (some law enforcement agencies confiscate so many knives that they auction them to generate money). And, of course, if you wield a knife, citizens and cops are authorized and protected by countless laws to shoot you.
Note, further, that environmental regulations protect you from these rather benign utensils. Manufacturers are prevented from using certain chemicals and metals that poison your body, like lead and mercury.
In any case, this trope is a whiny and weak diversion, a fallacious straw man that keeps the gun advocate from taking personal responsibility for contributing to actual harms and deaths to their fellow Americans.
That’s what regulation looks like. Thousands of knife laws were passed to protect people from harm. And gun laws aim to do the same. There’s no legitimate reason to limit gun laws, especially not the Jobs Defense.

Should I post more jobs? Y/N?

yaleuniversity:

The Yale Sustainable Food Project maintains an internship database relevant to anyone interested in pursuing a broad set of opportunities in sustainable food.

All these opportunities are open to both Yalies and the general public, so kindly pass on the link to friends who might benefit from this resource.

Don’t forget to follow the Yale Sustainable Food Project on Tumblr!