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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In 2005, I swam in the Southern Ocean, just off Antarctica. It was cold — very cold — when I swam over a graveyard of whale bones near an old whaling factory. As far as I could see, there were bleached white bones piled up on the seafloor. Man hunted whales almost to the point of extinction, not seeming to care that we could lose one of the wonders of the sea forever. It is the coldness of the water that preserves the bones and makes it look as if they were left there yesterday, but I like to think they are there as a reminder of man’s potential for folly.

Fortunately, in 1986 most countries ceased commercial whaling, and some whale populations have made a spectacular recovery. Whales like the Southern right were brought back from the brink of extinction. Their numbers are now increasing 7 percent year after year. If we can do it with one species, surely we can do it for entire ecosystems. We just need to give them the space to recover.

Marine protected areas, which are like national parks for the seas, are the best way to make that happen. In the Red Sea, I saw no coral and no fish. It looked like an underwater desert. But then, a little more than a mile later, I swam into a protected area, where fishing had been restricted. It was a sea as it was meant to be: rich and colorful and teeming with abundant life.

We need far more of these protected areas. They allow the habitat to recover from overfishing and pollution, which helps fish stocks recover. When we create them, we protect the coral, which protects the shoreline and provides shelter for fish. They become places people want to visit for ecotourism. They are good for the world economy, for the health of the oceans, for every person living on this planet.

This year in the Aegean I swam over tires and trash. In a few years, I hope to return, and swim over thriving coral reefs.

Swimming Through Garbage" - Lewis Pugh

I was shocked by what I saw in the seas, and by what I didn’t see.

I saw no sharks, no whales, no dolphins. I saw no fish longer than 11 inches. The larger ones had all been fished out.

When I swam in the Aegean, the sea floor was covered with litter; I saw tires and plastic bags, bottles, cans, shoes and clothing.

Swimming Through Garbage" - NYTimes op-ed by lawyer and world-class competitive swimmer, Lewis Pugh.

2014 Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Sixth Lowest on Record: Arctic sea ice coverage continued its below-average trend this year as the ice declined to its annual minimum. Learn more: go.nasa.gov/1wGz5bB #EarthRightNow #ActOnClimate

This cloud formation over Lincoln, Nebraska will blow your mind.

Hi,

I’m Daniel Byers a filmmaker with SkyShipFilms. I’ve been selected as a finalist for Nat Geo’s “Expedition Granted” competition, with an expedition proposal to study dangerous glacial lakes in the Puna Tsang Chu valley, Bhutan. Please vote for my project. These glacial lakes are remote, unstudied except by satellite, and pose a real threat to Bhutan’s people, hydro plants, and only international airport.

The last round is a public vote, with the winner getting $50K to fund their expedition. You can vote once per day thru Sep 29th… would love to have your support in helping raise awareness and action for climate change! ~Daniel Byers

Meanwhile in Papua New Guinea.

webofgoodnews:

This Pop-Up Solar Power Station Can Be Installed Instantly Anywhere In The World

At the push of a button, this shipping container instantly transforms into a pop-up solar power station: Hidden solar panels slide out of drawers on each side and immediately start generating energy wherever they’re needed, whether for disaster relief or in a remote village far off the grid.

—If that’s not good enough for you, then there’s also this:

The first model, released this month, includes onboard atmospheric water generators that pull water from the air. “We’re able to provide water without a water source,” says McGuire.

Read more

Interesting. I work in international development, and I can’t see who’d pay for these. Taxpayers? 

It seems the media loves them more than the markets. Diesel and gas generators are way waayyy cheaper. They’re produce more energy for more people in more places. They’re more accessible, easily repairable and replaceable, and are a more efficient response mechanism than a battery (solar panels charge a battery, then the battery is plugged into power station or some other distribution hub). In fact, many states already have long-term contracts with utilities to use the more reliable and time tested fossil fuel generator.

Utility power companies should consider using temporary power plants (coupled diesel or gas generators coupled, electric transformers with built-in power substation, fuel tanks and other power accessories) when no other possible alternative source of power generation, such as diesel-powered generators, is available to supplement the electricity shortfall during repairs and maintenance.

These plants can, for example, use a 100 MW rental power plant for six months to avoid power interruptions and continuously supply electricity to critical areas such as airports, data centers or hospitals… See here.

The fact that they’re dirty and pollutive does not trump their utility or world-wide acceptance.

I’d also point out that, as sexy as these units are, solar rental systems already exist. They’re used in the field by temporary construction crews, and possibly by disaster response teams (it’s unclear from their website), but their utility, availability, deployment times, maintenance and other costs are still unproven.

Finally, who is responsible for disposing the batteries?

(via fastcompany)

dendroica:

A double rainbow lights up spectacular scenery in Kirkjufell, Iceland. Picture: Peter Rolf Hammer/HotSpot Media (via Pictures of the day: 4 June 2014 - Telegraph)

landscapelifescape:

Saxon Switzerland National Park, Germany

Magic tree by mjagiellicz

Holy smokes.

A rather ominous overview of the IPCC’s new climate change reports from the Yale’s Forum on Climate Change and the Media. I really don’t think this format works beyond narrow audiences with some climate change knowledge. 

Today’s landslide in Baltimore was (of course) caught on camera. The last 15 seconds are very loud!

Interesting that the investigators found that “authorities and security forces” (e.g., government) are complicit. I wonder how they found this information (or if they assumed it)?Anyone have this report? If so, can you kindly send it to me?

Asker Anonymous Asks:
What is your personal opinion on The Nature Conservancy? Seems like an ideal environmental non-profit to work for.
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hey Anon,

TNC has a great reputation. They have high-turn over though, so they act more as a stepping stone for experienced and mid-level environmental careerists (any readers at TNC? Is this perspective accurate??). I’m also not clear on how successful they are at meeting their mission or campaign goals - though I’m sure this information is readily available on their website.

Cheers,

Michael

Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene is one of my favorite science journals. All articles are open-source - meaning they’re free - no registration or fees. They focus on environmental scientific research in an “era of accelerated human impact.” Humans have disturbed virtually every natural system on earth.

So, how do we share knowledge about scientific research? Currently, there’s a maturing debate about whether scientific research should be free or paid. I’m quite interested in this debate. Especially since my tax dollars pay for much of this research, but I don’t have access to it. In fact, most science is publicly funded by taxpayer dollars typically through universities and direct government grants. The balance of journals get their funds from subscriptions, which average about $5,000 per year. Yes, you can subscribe to Scientific American for $25, yet the annual ‘script for the Journal of Coordination Chemistry is $11,000!

When a researcher publishes their findings, scientific journals charge the public very high fees for access, which prevents the majority of the world from learning more.

I think this is reasonably indefensible.

One article from the journal Nature typically costs $20 to $30. One of my articles published with International Journal of Climate Change costs $10 (I share it for free with those that ask).

The debate is so powerful that The Guardian newspaper created a special section called Open Source Scientific Publishing. It focuses on the changing landscape of scientific publishing, and the debates make for fun, if not serious, reading.

And there is a protest movement by senior scientists to boycott some of the bigger scientific journals in favor of open source, free access publications. The University of California has also joined the fight, protesting these high fees.

Some have argued that science journals are more interested in selling subscriptions, where they favor “superstar” researchers who can capture more fees over less flashy researchers. Competition among science journals is a surprisingly ugly business.

So, should science be free? I think so.

For my part, I favor peer-reviewed, open-source science publication generally, and the journal Elementa specifically. Elementa is a non-profit publisher of science with overlap in my field of climate change and climate adaptation. The partners are BioOne, Dartmouth, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Michigan, and the University of Washington.

Take a minute to read what the editors of Elementa have to say about why open source science matters and why it should be free to everyone.