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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Do you know of key journal articles, open access or not, for getting a science inclined person acquainted with the climate change response field? i.e. not focused on super technical details but also not hand waving?
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hi unstable-equilibria!

Sorry for the epic delay and happy 2014! Go with these three:

  1. RealClimate.org. Bookmark and read often. It’s written by some of the top climate scientists in the world, and there is nearly zero hand-waving or advocacy. Just the facts.
  2. IPCC Fifth Assessment. Hands down the best climate science on the planet.
  3. U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). Little known, the USGCRP is the US government’s climate science program. It’s was established by law in 1990. They publish tons of climate science that’s easy to read. Their reports contain great bibliographies, too.

These are the best of the best. There are a ton of rabbit holes to get lost in on the above sites, so I advise taking a gentle-but-steady approach - focus on reading one report per month rather than click click clicking your way around… 

Keep in touch and let me know how it goes over the next year…

Michael

Wildfires are projected to burn more land as temps continue to rise. Via Union of Concerned Scientists.

rtamerica:

The federal government has proposed a new set of national fracking rules that would weaken disclosure requirements. The proposal allows ‘trade secrets’ to remain unknown from the public, which has distressed environmental groups.

I called it. Last month, environmental groups were doing handstands and backflips over Sally Jewell, who is Obama’s pick to lead the BLM (US Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management).

She used to frack wells for Mobil oil company long before she was CEO of REI.

Last month, I wrote:

…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.

The loss of tropical rain forests is likely to reduce the energy output of hydroelectric projects in countries like Brazil that are investing billions of dollars to create power to support economic growth.
Felicity Barringer, NYTimes. Good, quick read.

Road crews tear down Mayan pyramid to make gravel.

Belizean police are investigating a construction company that has destroyed most of one of the largest Mayan pyramids in the Caribbean nation to make gravel to dump on village roads, according to reports from the Caribbean.

Archaeologists and a local TV station witnessed the destruction Friday as bulldozers and excavators continued to demolish the 60-foot-tall main temple at Nohmul — “great mound” — one of the tallest structures in northern Belize, along the Mexican border in the Yucatan Peninsula.

"We can’t salvage what has happened out here," John Morris, of the Institute of Archaeology, told 7 News Belize. "It is an incredible display of ignorance. I am appalled." A news crew was threatened by a man with a machete as dump trucks hauled away rock and limestone from the temple, which has been "whittled down to a narrow core," the TV station said.

A Caterpillar excavator was photographed tearing down what was left of the limestone-rich ruins. “It’s like being punched in the stomach, it’s just so horrendous,” Jamie Awe, head of the institute, told the Associated Press. “These guys knew that this was an ancient structure. It’s just bloody laziness.”

The pre-Colombian site is about 2,500 years old and consists of twin ceremonial clusters surrounded by 10 plazas and connected by a raised causeway. Mayans used stone tools to quarry the rock and build the complex by hand. An estimated 40,000 people are believed to have lived there between 500 and 250 BC.

More of these incidents to come in the years ahead as population growth outweighs the need to protect resources.

An excellent resource to bookmark.

While water allocation, drought, and fires seems to be the theme of climate adaptation for 2013, pollution and conservation will play a dual role. The EPA has announced that nearly 55% of U.S. rivers and streams are in rough shape - mostly due to little to know local interest. 

More than half of the country’s rivers and streams are unable to support healthy populations of aquatic insects and other creatures, a survey of nearly 2,000 locations by the Environmental Protection Agency reported Tuesday.

The study found more than 55 percent of the rivers and streams “in poor condition, 23 percent in fair shape, and 21 percent in good biological health,” The Associated Press noted. High levels of nutrient pollution—phosphorous and nitrogen from farms, cities and sewers—were found in the waterways. Phosphorous was found in 40 percent of rivers and streams.

Land development along waterways was found to have enabled erosion, flooding and the introduction of pollutants as well.

“This new science shows that America’s streams and rivers are under significant pressure,” said Nancy Stoner, acting assistant administrator of the EPA’s water office. “We must continue to invest in protecting and restoring our nation’s streams and rivers, as they are vital sources of our drinking water, provide many recreational opportunities and play a critical role in the economy.”

Interesting water resources protest in Iran. When farmers take to the streets, you know something is very wrong. The US Dept of Defense warned these types of skirmishes will occur more often as the climate changes.

Anyone have more information on this? Especially the background on how Iran’s infrastructure works?

globalvoices:

VIDEO: In Burning Rage for Water, Iran Farmers Take On Security Forces

An anonymous video on YouTube shows angry farmers from eastern part of Isfahan in Iran on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 among burning busses in ongoing protests against water shortages.

There are credible reports of clashes with security forces, but detailed information is limited and official media is silent.

Another video shows that only days earlier, farmers busted open a water pipe carrying water from Zayanderood to Yazd as part of their protest for access to water which is vital to the survival of their crops.

Iranglobal reports that the farmers had been protesting for at least one month about their lack of resources, but received no official response to their demands.

Read more.

In a confusing Press Release, the United Nations urges countries to protect AND develop the Arctic as glaciers and ice melt. On the one hand, the PR urges stronger legal and environmental regulations. On the other, it urges northern countries to cooperate as they exploit the Arctic’s vast resources of oil, gas, minerals, and fish: “the Arctic Council …is formed by Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US has a crucial role to play in ensuring any resource exploitation is done responsibly.”

Confused? Yeah, me too…

Via United Nations

The U.S. Embassy in Iceland might be 70 people. Europe’s largest presence is France, with only a 20 person embassy. Why would China need one with 500 people?

The answer? Natural resources. Aluminum, rare earth metals, oil, gas, copper, gold, and possibly diamonds are irresistible wealth opportunities in the Arctic region. Melting ice will give way to new mega-mining operations like never seen before.

Then Mr. Degeorges answered his own question about China’s need — or desire — for such a large embassy in Reykjavik: “It gives you the long-term perspective that you can expect in Iceland.”

Indeed.

Everyone is jostling for space in the melting Arctic these days, it seems, as my colleague Elisabeth Rosenthal recently reported. That includes China, which has no Arctic territory.

Yet as the Arctic ice cap melts, it is revealing riches — principally minerals, including important rare earths, but also water, oil and gas. Greenland potentially has up to 10 percent of the world’s freshwater reserves, Mr. Degeorges said.

NYTimes

U.S. military might not be as prepared as you think.

The Defense Department has already taken major steps to plan for and adapt to climate change and has spent billions of dollars to make ships, aircraft and vehicles more fuel-efficient. Nonetheless, the 206-page study warns in sometimes bureaucratic language, the United States is ill prepared to assess and prepare for the catastrophes that a heated planet will produce.

“It is prudent to expect that over the course of a decade some climate events — including single events, conjunctions of events occurring simultaneously or in sequence in particular locations, and events affecting globally integrated systems that provide for human well-being — will produce consequences that exceed the capacity of the affected societies or global system to manage and that have global security implications serious enough to compel international response,” the report states.

In other words, states will fail, large populations subjected to famine, flood or disease will migrate across international borders, and national and international agencies will not have the resources to cope.

Good read via NYT

Asker dasistalles Asks:
First off, I always enjoy reading updates on your tumblah, it is awesome!! I have a close friend who likes to debate about the whether climate change does or does not exist (he thinks it is mostly "hype"). I finally decided to find some good resources about climate change that I can recommend to them. Do you have any suggestions?
climateadaptation climateadaptation Said:

Hey dasistalles!

Thanks for your nice note.

I love good arguments. I went to law school and am trained to argue “both sides,” which can be really fun. In fake court, I once successfully defended Exxon Mobil against impoverished indigenous Alaskans who’s island is sinking due to sea level rise. They’ve since made a movie about Kivalina v Exxon.

The point is you have to understand the other side - empathy is key.

There are a lot of arguments against climate change. Most are terrible. The common thread, though, is very strong and really difficult to argue against - that new regulations will cost families’ money.

You have to be empathetic to this point. Their argument is really about stopping the cost of electricity and gasoline from going up.

Look, we enviros can dream and be idealistic about raising the price of a barrel of oil. But in reality, higher prices are terrible, terrible options for families, especially the 47%.

Challenge a fellow enviro how they square raising the price of electricity via free markets with government subsidies for education, PBS, and Planned Parenthood, etc. Why is it OK to raise energy costs, but not OK to take away services? It’s idealism vs reality, and many activists (in my experience) don’t understand this.

Energy is expensive, and families (the 47% who already depend on gvt assistance) really do suffer if the price of energy goes up even a little bit. Navigating this in school is exhilarating, but it utterly falls apart in the real world. So, yeah. It’s an up hill battle if you’re stuck discussing solutions with your friend.

Besides hurting families, some of the best arguments I’ve heard deal with: the history of the planet, sun spots, something called ‘oscillations’, and the tried and true big winter snow storm.

"The planet’s climate is cyclical! We’ve had ice ages and heat waves many times before!" is a powerful argument and trips up most environmentalists. After all, if this current trend is a “cycle” then why regulate fuel at all? Clever stuff.

This is the bottom line: your friend has only one task - prove that carbon atoms do not trap heat. That’s it. That’s the only thing s/he has to prove. All of the other arguments fundamentally depend on this premise being false.

Get your opponent to stay on point. Get them to argue hard facts and stay out of the trap of debating bleeding-heart fantasies.

They absolutely must prove carbon does not trap heat in order for every other argument against climate change to be true. To do so, make sure they agree first that earth is warming (they will). Where you’ll disagree is why it’s warming - earth cycles or humans. Again, if it’s cycles, then there’s no need to regulate energy. If it’s humans, then there is a need to regulate energy, but then you run up against the families argument…

If your friend can prove that carbon does not trap heat, not only will they win a Nobel, they can then go on to blame it on cycles, sun spots, earth’s rotation, the Myans, god’s jealous vengeance, etc. So, get your friend to research what carbon atoms do, and try to have fun with it.

OK, OK, on to your question. The best resource for these types of short-term bursts is Skeptical Science’s “Arguments from Global Warming Skeptics" page. They’ve been cataloging skeptic/denier arguments for several years now, and their database of arguments is the best I’ve ever come across. I’m sure that several arguments from their pages will look very, very familiar to you. In fact, I’d bet that your friend has repeated a good handful of them!

I also put together a store of 100% climate change books. I update it often to help everyone from beginners to advanced researchers.

Hope that helps!

Michael

Absolutely brilliant report by USAToday. This is but a teeny glimpse into the future troubles facing cities across America. The public will soon be side-swiped by how terrible cities have been managed. It’s our next financial tsunami, and budget cuts to things like school systems and closing parks are not going to fix much.

Unfunded pensions (click!), deferred maintenance, inefficient management, poorly designed union contracts, lowered tax rates, aging infrastructure, deficient electric grid, water shortages (and leaks), will all be exacerbated by increasingly intense storms. The perfect storm is brewing. Sorry to be so bleak, but your politicians really are lying to you about a looming crisis. When cities advertise that you should shop or move there, or when they advertize new downtown revitalization, they’re really trying to get more money (taxes) to help pay for all the above issues. Climate change is going to put a lot of pressure on cities to perform basic functions unless leaders start being more forthright with these issues.

USA Today’s brilliant interactive map might wake-up the public enough to start at least asking questions about how their city is dealing with budget shortfalls. This map shows various rate increases (aka, poor city planning and management) in dozens of cities across the US. Solid piece on a complex set of issues facing America.

usatoday:

While most Americans worry about gas and heating oil prices, water rates have surged in the past dozen years, according to our analysis of 100 municipalities. Prices at least doubled in more than a quarter of the locations and even tripled in a few.

The top graphic here shows the highest increases in water rates across the country, while the bottom graphic compares water cost increases against other utilities.

Find our how your city stacks up: http://usat.ly/V5XWUN

Our history consists of the movement of people from one unsustainable way of life to another.
From the must read article analyzing the history and purpose of sustainability, “Abundance on Trial: The Cultural Significance of “Sustainability”

I’m salivating over this piece that critically analyzes sustainability. Both of my masters degrees were heavy on the theoretics and history of sustainability. I even taught a class at UMass-Amherst on trends in sustainability research.

The Anthropocene brings into relief a destabilizing ambivalence running through the conceptual and rhetorical registers of sustainability, one that has been there from its initial formulation as “sustainable development.” In one register, the discourse of sustainability seems to offer a sweeping retraction of modern aspirations in light of the Anthropocene and its implications. What needs sustaining is nature’s (and thus also humanity’s) limits. This inflection of sustainability presupposes a background picture of fundamental scarcity and judges claims of abundance to be illusory.

Depending on your point of view, resources are either finite or unlimited. I believe the Earth’s resources are finite, frailly so. I never fully bought into the concept of “sustainable development,” to the continuous frowning of my advisers, who, it must be said, have staked their careers teaching sustainability principles. Never has so much confused hope been placed into one theoretical pot. Never had environmentalism been so distorted and utterly taken over by corporate devils.

From the “resources are finite” point of view, “sustainable development” is an oxymoron, plain and simple. And I cannot think of an historical analog in the liberal arts where an applied theory been such a fantastical failure. Only corporations can practice “sustainable development.” The infrastructure, food and water supply, hospitals and schools, computers and electricity - books - all the world’s resources that make humankind possible are corporate owned. All dollars flow up. Sustainability is an immeasurable impossibility.

The purported age of material surfeit enjoyed by industrialized nations for the past one hundred years, on this view, came through massive exploitation of the world’s poor societies, through extensive externalization of the real costs of industrialization, and through the plundering of the finite reserves of carbon that have been stored up over eons in the depths of the earth. In short, our fabled abundance came about by overrunning critical social and planetary limits for the sake of present gains, to the benefit of only a minority of humans and at the expense of future generations and other species. The Anthropocene, on this view, represents the redlining of our critical life support systems.

What is needed, I’ve argued before, is a new and expanded theory of environmental conservation. We already have a foundation of environmental management, and the best successes are rooted in conservation. We need to expand upon this foundation and duplicate successes. New Conservation, for example, would be tied to civic duty - that is, taking part in law making, attending city meetings, engaging in government decisions, and learning to run for office. I think we need a blending of steady environmentalism and ethical citizenship. (I’m aware that going to city budget meetings are not as sexy as protest, but it’s a new world with tougher laws and smarter authorities. Protest is no longer sustainable [e.g., OWS]).

A New Conservationism would trace the tracks of Teddy Roosevelt’s environmental legacy. And, it would improve upon subsequent environmental theories that have work and continue to function.

This modern concept of sustainability must die. It is capitalism by another name, and capitalism fundamentally depends on massive - massive - extraction of finite resources. It serves only in the efficient extraction or resources for corporate profit. There are no social benefits - none that can be tangibly measured with any clarity (fair trade is a teeny, tiny niche. It, too, is unsustainable. See the Conclusions section of Fairtrade Foundation’s ten-year report). Sustainable development is demonstrably not sustainable.

This is a must read article. It analyzes the history and purpose of sustainability, “Abundance on Trial: The Cultural Significance of “Sustainability”

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