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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Climate change causing Pentagon planning shift, says DOD strategist - The Hill's E2-Wire
The U.S. Has Much, Much More Gas and Oil Than We Thought

This article is circulating among the anti-peak oil crowds. To me, the bigger story is about the left’s environmental heroine, Sally Jewell, who used to frack wells. As new head of the Dept. of Interior, she will (with Obama’s encouragement) - will - allow aggressive fracking on more public lands, possibly much more in our National Parks. To forgiving environmentalists, she’s Obama’s replacement for the DOI and former CEO of REI.

The DC based Heritage Foundation is one of the most powerful, influential conservative think-tanks in the world. In fact, just last week, a U.S. Senator resigned his seat to work for Heritage.

Heritage mainly - and very successfully - lobbies politicians to cut taxes, incentivize private markets to replace nearly all areas of government, and to direct tax-payer money more towards national defense.

This is the formula, they argue, that will create more freedom for Americans.

They’re also very, very effective at criticizing environmental policy and the American education system, which, if we’re honest with ourselves, needs a bit of housecleaning.

Take their argument against providing relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy. They’re arguing that Obama’s emergency relief for Hurricane Sandy victims is far too expensive. The main argument is that private and local institutions and non-profits should step-up and help more than the Federal Government. And that the Obama administration should encourage local communities to deal with their own hazards. This as opposed to the government incentivizing rebuilding in dangerous areas in perpetuity.

Heritage might be right about this. As a thought experiment, suppose I choose to live on an earthquake fault. I’m aware of the fault. I’m also aware that the you, the taxpayer, will rebuild my home when there is a disaster. You, the taxpayer, also give me special discounts on home insurance, discounts that are not available to everyone else. When an earthquake destroys my home, who should rebuild it? Now apply this thought experiment to a city. The city knows it’s in a danger zone. The politicians, businesses, and residents all know that Americans will pay to rebuild the city, no matter what. Heritage argues that this system is biased, immoral, and plainly unfair.

You may disagree, but that thought experiment is a real issue that should be discussed.

Still, Heritage is the anathema of the progressive left, which believes a strong state equates to a stronger populace (e.g., stronger social systems). You can find endless arguments for-and-against the Heritage Foundation all over the web. 

The above screenshot shows back-to-back blog posts, which I argue below, demonstrate the immoral, and therefore incongruous behavior by Heritage and many old-school conservatives. No-doubt, you will come across some form of this cognitive dissonance one day, if you haven’t already.

The top post is against clean energy investments paid for by you, the taxpayer (go here to explore why this is a climate change issue. Don’t forget to come back!:)). The bottom post argues that you, the taxpayer, should pay for the security of a rather rich, foreign government. One post is against taxpayer spending, the other is for more taxpayer spending.

My point in posting this screenshot is to call-out the immoral behavior of the Heritage Foundation. To my mind, these two posts demonstrate both the cognitive dissonance and the blatant ignorance of Heritage’s positions. Sorry to belabor the point, but just bear with me.

On the one hand, they argue, government should not invest in clean energy - it’s a waste of tax payer money and should be left to the markets. Yet on the other, in the very next post, they argue that tax payers should pay for the security state of a foreign nation, namely the very rich, military heavy UK government. Thus, cut tax spending in America, increase tax spending on the UK.

Heritage cannot have it both ways in this instance. It cannot be both for and against national security. Our military has argued for decades that America must ween off of oil from the Middle East (and foreign oil generally). A position supported by Heritage. Their argument, in short, is that “energy independence” would increase freedom and protection for Americans - exactly the mission of Heritage.

In fact, the Department of Defense has shown that American’s fuel-oil infrastructure both on the ground and around the world is not only dangerous and expensive, it regularly kills Americans. And the DOD argues that alternative energy is necessary to protect the United States.

Everyone knows that this argument is not new. Even Fox News kicks around energy independence and freedom. America needs to be energy independent and it will result in a safer, more prosperous America.

Heritage is lying - flat out lying - when it argues against investing in alternative energy. It cannot have it both ways.

I’m all for criticism. It makes for stronger, more accessible public policy. But, when the message is delivered by people that genuinely and regularly deceive the public, more harm is done than good. This behavior also prevents good and smart people from playing in their sandbox.

Heritage has to face the facts: The United States is not going to move backwards, to the 1950s. Ever. Americans are not going to embrace the new Tea Party. Nor libertarianism. Nor any other patriarchally formulated “ism.”

It’s time the Heritage Foundation shed its tired, old-dog ways and get with the program. To focus on modern-day conservatism. To enrich Americans, not divide them. Not to force Americans against each other, but to incentivize us to work together - after all, working together is our American “heritage.”

The Heritage Foundation should exist. They can do good for America. But they need to bullet-proof their positions by recognizing that this, this screen-shot above, is morally abhorrent behavior. To succeed and reach a wider audience (rather than the dying white-male demographic), they’ll need to invest in arguments supported by diverse research teams, rather than uni-polar, specialized, and biased studies and reports.

It is the moral thing to do.

New Study Definitively Links Armed-Conflicts to Climate Change

The study was released this morning and published by the National Academy of Sciences. It’s free to download, and looks at over 16,000 conflicts during 1990-2009.

Look, Obama and Romney need to discuss climate change tonight, even if it’s in the context of national security - it has to happen.

A study relating climate to conflict in East African nations finds that increased rainfall dampens conflict while unusually hot periods can cause a flare-up, reinforcing the theory that climate change will cause increased scarcity in the region. The study was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Politicians and many scientists have called climate change a security risk, based on the idea that unusual variations in weather are likely to put immense strain on rural societies dependent on farming and livestock for survival. But the results of studies trying to confirm such a hypothesis have been mixed.

The authors of the new study, from the University of Colorado and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, believe that problems with previous studies may have contributed to previous failures to link climate and conflict, including the use of data only at the country level rather than at the regional or local level.

Instead, the researchers used a conflict database called the Armed Conflict Location and Event Dataset, or ACLED, which provides location-specific tracking of individual events across Africa — from large-scale acts of war to local fights over farmland.

LA Times

“ Certainly, Obama and the Democrats offer a more forward-thinking energy policy than Romney and the Republicans. Romney has hitched his policy to the extraction industry (which has effectively promoted climate-change denial). For his part, Obama does support increased fuel efficiency for cars, which will save Americans money since they will use less high-priced gas. He supports the tax credits that make it feasible for private companies to produce actual “clean” energy technology like solar, wind and biofuels. (Romney does not.) ”

—    The Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board challenging O’mighty and Rombot to discuss climate change as a national security issue
Rethinking climate change as a security threat

"Once upon a time climate change was a strictly environment and development issue. Today it has become a matter of national and international security. Corinne Schoch explains why focusing on climate change as a security threat alone risks devolving humanitarian responsibilities to the military, ignoring key challenges and losing sight of those climate-vulnerable communities that stand most in need of protection."

IIED

This is a military perspective on adaptation and sustainability. Fantastic, fast-paced talk.

Naval Captain Wayne Porter and Col. Mark Mykleby of the Marines, military strategists working at the highest level of government, present highlights from their paper, “A National Strategic Narrative.” Their ideas—less military force, more social capital and more sustainable practices in energy and agriculture—have caused a recent stir in policy communities.

Shameless plug - Mark Mykleby spoke at our GreenGov conference last week, which we ran with the White House. We invited him to speak on the Communicating Climate and Risk panel with friends and colleagues of mine from BNA and USC. Mark is a great speaker and can fired up any room. If you have a chance after the video, read A National Strategic Narrative.

Climate change reveals disease as national security threat

"U.S. intelligence officials list the spread of disease as one of their top four climate change-related security concerns, along with food and water scarcity and the impact of extreme weather on transportation and communications systems. Outbreaks of disease can destabilize foreign countries, especially developing nations, overtax the U.S. military and undermine social cohesion and the economy at home.

In coming decades, more heat, humidity and rainfall could allow mosquitoes, ticks and other parasites and carriers of tropical and subtropical diseases to spread to areas where they didn’t exist previously, infecting populations that haven’t built up resistance to them, intelligence and health officials say.”


Read the rest: McClatchy

“ We don’t have a long-term reserve. We have a global food supply of about 2 or 3 weeks, ”

—     Eugene Takle, speaking on the world’s emergency food supply in case of sudden collapse. Takle is Professor of Agricultural Meteorology and Director of the Climate Science Program at Iowa State University.
U.S. Department of State: Ten Things You Should Know About the State Department and USAID


Harry S. Truman Building, State Department headquarters, Washington, DC, Mar. 9, 2009. [AP File]


Thomas R. Nides serves as Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources.

Do you ever wonder what the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) do every day and what it means for you?

In the eight months since I joined the State Department, I’ve learned firsthand about the important and wide ranging work done by the women and men who work here and around the world to enhance our national and economic security. We help train the Mexican National Police forces who battle violent drug gangs just south of our border, and we serve alongside our military in Iraq and Afghanistan. We negotiate trade agreements and promote U.S. exports by reducing barriers to commerce.

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates used to say that the Department of Defense has as many people in military bands as the State Department has in the Foreign Service. With just over one percent of the entire federal budget, we have a huge impact on how Americans live and how the rest of the world experiences and engages America.

Here are a few examples of what we do on behalf of the American people:

1. We create American jobs. We directly support 20 million U.S. jobs by advocating on behalf of U.S. firms to open new markets, protect intellectual property, navigate foreign regulations and compete for foreign government and private contracts. State economic officers negotiate Open Skies agreements, which open new routes for air travel from the United States to countries throughout the world, creating thousands of American jobs and billions in U.S. economic activity each year. 

2. We support American citizens abroad. In the past eight months, we provided emergency assistance to, or helped coordinate travel to safe locations for, American citizens in Japan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Cote d’Ivoire in the wake of natural disasters or civil unrest. Last year, we assisted in 11,000 international adoptions and worked on over 1,100 new child abduction cases — resulting in the return of 485 American children.

3. We promote democracy and foster stability around the world. Stable democracies and prosperous communities are less likely to pose a threat to their neighbors or to the United States. South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, can be a viable ally for the United States in east Africa, but right now, violence and instability threatens its success. U.S. diplomats and development experts are there to help the South Sudanese learn how to govern and develop their economy so that South Sudan can stand on its own. In Libya, we helped create unprecedented international support to help the people shed 42 years of dictatorship and begin the long path to democracy.

4. We help to ensure the world is a safer place. Our nonproliferation programs have destroyed dangerous stockpiles of missiles, munitions and the material that can be used to make a nuclear weapon. The New START Treaty, negotiated by the State Department and signed by President Obama in 2010, reduced the number of deployed nuclear weapons to levels not seen since the 1950s. And, in 2010, the State Department helped more than 40 countries clear millions of square meters of landmines.

5. We save lives. Our programs that fight disease and hunger reduce the risk of instability abroad and, in return, protect our national security. Strong bipartisan support for U.S. global health investments has led to unparalleled successes in the treatment, care and prevention of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, as well as saved millions from diseases like smallpox and polio.

6. We help countries feed themselves. In the United States, we know agriculture. Building upon what we do best — grow and produce food — we help other countriesplant the right seeds in the right way and get crops to markets to feed the most people. Food shortages can lead to riots and starvation, but strong agricultural sectors can lead to stable economies, helping countries become strong U.S. trading partners.

7. We help in times of crisis. After this year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan, State and USAID sent disaster response experts, nuclear experts and urban search and rescue teams to work assist the government of Japan with meeting immediate needs. Secretary Clinton personally delivered much needed supplies to Chile within hours of a devastating earthquake. From earthquakes in Haiti to famine in the Horn of Africa and devastating fires in Israel, our experienced and talented emergency professionals deliver assistance to those who need it most.

8. We promote the rule of law and protect human dignity. Every day, we help people find freedom and shape their own destinies. In the Central Asian republics, we advocated for the release of prisoners held simply because their beliefs differed from those of the government. In Vietnam, we prevented political activists from suffering physical abuse. We have trained lawyers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help rape victims, police officers in Peru to combat sex trafficking, and journalists in Malaysia in an effort to make their government more accountable.

9. We help Americans see the world. In 2010, we issued 14 million passports for Americans to travel abroad. We facilitate the lawful travel of students, tourists and business people, including issuing more than 700,000 visas for foreign students to study in the U.S. last year. And, if a storm could disrupt your vacation plans or if you could get sick from drinking the water, we alert you through our travel warnings.

10. We are the face of America overseas. Our diplomats, development experts, and the programs they implement are the source of American leadership around the world. They are the embodiments of our American values abroad. They are a force for good in the world.

The United States is a leader for peace, progress and prosperity, and the State Department and USAID help deliver that. All of this (and more) costs the American taxpayer about one percent of the overall federal budget. That is a small investment that yields a large return by advancing our national security, promoting our economic interests, and reaffirming our country’s exceptional role in the world.

To learn more, please visit www.state.gov and www.usaid.gov.

Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn discusses the Department of Defense’s position and strategy on climate change and the potential for social instability.

This is the white-hot piece that’s going around called “A National Strategic Narrative,” by Mr. Y. So awesome, it’s worth printing.

fastcompany:

Captain Wayne Porter of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Colonel Mark Mykleby, who wrote the paper for the Woodrow Wilson Center, argue that the United States has its policies all wrong. America’s greatest national security threats aren’t terrorism or foreign armies—they are a crumbling infrastructure at home, the depletion of natural resources, climate change, and an overdependence on what they call “defense and protectionism.” Counterintuitively, this paper from special assistants to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, argues that America’s best hopes for world leadership lies in classical left-wing tropes of conservation, soft power, and aggressive humanitarian work abroad.

Click through for their four five* biggest (and most controversial) suggestions on the best path to maintaining America’s global hegemony.

*IMO, Fastcompany interns don’t actually read what they post on.

(via fastcompany)