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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Birds killed per year by energy source. Via U.S. News (trigger warning, written by Alan Neuhauser).

Wind and solar kills about 300k per year. Coal, nearly 8 million. Power lines kill about 12 and 64 million birds per year.

The biggest killer of birds? House cats kill 3 billion birds per year. That’s about 375 of those black bars for coal placed end to end.

Guys, seriously. Come meet Jenny Frankel-Reed, Senior Climate Adaptation Specialist with USAID’s Global Climate Change Office. 
She. Is. AWESOME!!!
I co-manage a climate adaptation contract with her office, and I can say she is one of the best people I’ve worked with in a long time. She manages a technical project called SERVIR with NASA, USAID, and several partners around the world.

SERVIR—the Regional Visualization and Monitoring System—helps government officials, managers, scientists, researchers, students, and the general public make decisions by providing Earth observations and predictive models based on data from orbiting satellites.
The SERVIR system helps nations in Mesoamerica, Africa, and the Himalayan regions cope with eight areas of societal benefit identified by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO): disasters, ecosystems, biodiversity, weather, water, climate, health, and agriculture. Via


I think she’s a great inspiration for young women professionals in science!! You HAVE TO COME SEE HER!
Do you want to hear about what it’s like to work at USAID?
Are you interested in how the U.S. government promotes climate adaptation around the world??! Of course you do!
Interested in making connections in the climate change field?
Come meet Jenny for a chat and some drinks August 28th. I’ll be there, too!
Details: 

A Chat with USAID/GCC Jenny Frankel-Reed. 
BAR LOUIE (CHINATOWN METRO) Washington, DC AUG 28 7 P.M.
HOSTS ENVIRO-RUN:
August 28: 7 p.m. – Bar Louie, 701 7th St. NW, Washington DC. (IMPORTANT! Bar Louie is in the mall next to the Chinatown Metro. Go through the white doors on the northwest entrance off 7th Street, by the food carts.)
There will be a place to store bags while envirorunners are on the fun run. Meet inside the event room (Upon entering, turn left and then turn right when you see the back bar. We will be through the big, wooden door along the back wall.)  7 p.m.
Photo op: We welcome you to wear your best enviro shirt + swag and share #envirorun photos on Twitter (@envirorun) and Facebook (Envirorun). Prizes go to the top tweeters!
Speaker bio: Jenny Frankel-Reed is a Senior Climate Change Specialist and Coordinator of the SERVIR Program with USAID’s Climate Change Office, where she has provided technical support to programs in 20 countries and regions across Asia, Africa, and Latin America and coordinated USAID’s flagship science and technology partnership with NASA (SERVIR). 
Ms. Frankel-Reed has worked on the vulnerability and adaptation dimensions of climate change for more than 10 years, including vulnerability assessment, remote sensing applications, climate services, monitoring and evaluation, international climate financing, and training. 
Prior to joining USAID in 2010, she served as Technical Advisor for a German International Cooperation (GIZ) project based in India, was an Adaptation Advisor with the Environment and Energy Group of the United Nations Development Program, and worked as a Climate Change Consultant to the Global Environment Facility. Ms. Frankel-Reed has forest and human ecology research experience in the Brazilian Amazon and Pacific Northwest of the U.S., and holds a Masters from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Bachelors from Willamette University.

If you’re in DC August 28, please please come see her speak on USAID’s climate programs across dozens of countries.
She’s a young professional operating at a very high-level under Obama’s government. Come see her August 28th. It’s a small crowd, intimate setting, and the atmosphere is very casual! 

Guys, seriously. Come meet Jenny Frankel-Reed, Senior Climate Adaptation Specialist with USAID’s Global Climate Change Office.

She. Is. AWESOME!!!

I co-manage a climate adaptation contract with her office, and I can say she is one of the best people I’ve worked with in a long time. She manages a technical project called SERVIR with NASA, USAID, and several partners around the world.

SERVIR—the Regional Visualization and Monitoring System—helps government officials, managers, scientists, researchers, students, and the general public make decisions by providing Earth observations and predictive models based on data from orbiting satellites.

The SERVIR system helps nations in Mesoamerica, Africa, and the Himalayan regions cope with eight areas of societal benefit identified by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO): disasters, ecosystems, biodiversity, weather, water, climate, health, and agriculture. Via

I think she’s a great inspiration for young women professionals in science!! You HAVE TO COME SEE HER!

  • Do you want to hear about what it’s like to work at USAID?
  • Are you interested in how the U.S. government promotes climate adaptation around the world??! Of course you do!
  • Interested in making connections in the climate change field?
  • Come meet Jenny for a chat and some drinks August 28th. I’ll be there, too!

Details:

A Chat with USAID/GCC Jenny Frankel-Reed.

BAR LOUIE (CHINATOWN METRO) Washington, DC AUG 28 7 P.M.

HOSTS ENVIRO-RUN:

August 28: 7 p.m. – Bar Louie, 701 7th St. NW, Washington DC. (IMPORTANT! Bar Louie is in the mall next to the Chinatown Metro. Go through the white doors on the northwest entrance off 7th Street, by the food carts.)

There will be a place to store bags while envirorunners are on the fun run. Meet inside the event room (Upon entering, turn left and then turn right when you see the back bar. We will be through the big, wooden door along the back wall.)  7 p.m.

Photo op: We welcome you to wear your best enviro shirt + swag and share #envirorun photos on Twitter (@envirorun) and Facebook (Envirorun). Prizes go to the top tweeters!

Speaker bio: Jenny Frankel-Reed is a Senior Climate Change Specialist and Coordinator of the SERVIR Program with USAID’s Climate Change Office, where she has provided technical support to programs in 20 countries and regions across Asia, Africa, and Latin America and coordinated USAID’s flagship science and technology partnership with NASA (SERVIR).

Ms. Frankel-Reed has worked on the vulnerability and adaptation dimensions of climate change for more than 10 years, including vulnerability assessment, remote sensing applications, climate services, monitoring and evaluation, international climate financing, and training.

Prior to joining USAID in 2010, she served as Technical Advisor for a German International Cooperation (GIZ) project based in India, was an Adaptation Advisor with the Environment and Energy Group of the United Nations Development Program, and worked as a Climate Change Consultant to the Global Environment Facility. Ms. Frankel-Reed has forest and human ecology research experience in the Brazilian Amazon and Pacific Northwest of the U.S., and holds a Masters from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Bachelors from Willamette University.

If you’re in DC August 28, please please come see her speak on USAID’s climate programs across dozens of countries.

She’s a young professional operating at a very high-level under Obama’s government. Come see her August 28th. It’s a small crowd, intimate setting, and the atmosphere is very casual! 

As an undergraduate student in biology, I spent several weeks in Costa Rica one summer with an older graduate student on a research project deep in the cloud forest. It was just the two of us, and upon arriving at our site, I discovered that he had arranged a single room for us, one bed.

Mortified but afraid of being labeled prudish or difficult, I made no fuss. I took the lodge owner aside the next day and requested my own bed. The problem ended there, and my graduate student boss never made any physical advances.

Reflecting back, I’m struck by how ill equipped I was to deal with this kind of situation, especially at 19. My university undoubtedly had a harassment policy, but such resources were thousands of miles away. I was alone in a foreign country and had never received any training on my rights and resources in the field.

I’d forgotten about this experience from two decades ago until I read a report published July 16 in the journal PLOS One. Kathryn Clancy, an anthropologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and three colleagues used email and social media to invite scientists to fill out an online questionnaire about their experiences with harassment and assault at field sites; they received 666 responses, three quarters of them from women, from 32 disciplines, including anthropology, archaeology, biology and geology.

Almost two-thirds of the respondents said they had been sexually harassed in the field. More than 20 percent reported being sexually assaulted. Students or postdoctoral scholars, and women were most likely to report being victimized by superiors. Very few respondents said their field site had a code of conduct or sexual harassment policy, and of the 78 who had dared to report incidents, fewer than 20 percent were satisfied with the outcome.

The findings are depressingly similar to the data some colleagues and I collected this year from an online questionnaire sent to science writers. We received responses from 502 writers, mostly women, and presented our results at M.I.T. in June during Solutions Summit 2014: Women in Science Writing, a conference funded by the National Association of Science Writers.

More than half of the female respondents said they weren’t taken seriously because of their gender, one in three had experienced delayed career advancement, and nearly half said they had not received credit for their ideas. Almost half said they had encountered flirtatious or sexual remarks, and one in five had experienced uninvited physical contact.

Frightening study that quantifies sexual harassment and assault across the sciences. The journalist also notes there’s significant gender discrimination.

I haven’t personally witnessed or heard of harassment in any of the fields I’ve worked in (e.g, international development, city planning offices, or climate adaptation implementation or policy making). And over the years, I guesstimate working with at least 50% women, possibly more. There are some countries that I work in that will not accept women in a decision making role, but that is a cultural difference that takes time to collapse. We’re actually quite prepared for this type of systemic discrimination.

But, internally, on any team I’ve worked on, this is unheard of. I also work with one research institute (USC’s HURDL) that focuses on gender and vulnerable populations in climate impact contexts - but again, haven’t heard anything like this.

Are you a rising researcher? Have you been harassed while conducting your field work? Have you heard stories or rumors of harassment? Send me a note if you like, I’ll keep your replies private. Thanks, Michael

Via The Guardian

It takes luck and new technology to survive. We may be particularly lucky to have Internet technology to help manage the six requirements of a durable civilization:

1. “Try not to cough on one another.” More humans have died from epidemics than from all famines and wars. Disease precipitated the fall of Greece, Rome, and the civilizations of the Americas. People used to bunch up around the infected, which pushed local disease into universal plague. Now we can head that off with Net telepresence, telemedicine, and medical alert networks. All businesses should develop a work-from-home capability for their workforce.

2. “Don’t lose things.” As proved by the destruction of the Alexandria Library and of the literature of Mayans and Minoans, “knowledge is hard won but easily lost.” Plumbing disappeared for a thousand years when Rome fell. Inoculation was invented in China and India 700 years before Europeans rediscovered it. These days Michelangelo’s David has been safely digitized in detail. Eagleman has direct access to all the literature he needs via PubMed, JSTOR, and Google Books. “Distribute, don’t reinvent.”

3. “Tell each other faster.” Don’t let natural disasters cascade. The Minoans perished for lack of the kind of tsunami alert system we now have. Countless Haitians in the recent earthquake were saved by Ushahidi.com, which aggregated cellphone field reports in real time.

4. “Mitigate tyranny.” The USSR’s collapse was made inevitable by state-controlled media and state-mandated mistakes such as Lysenkoism, which forced a wrong theory of wheat farming on 13 time zones, and starved millions. Now crowd-sourced cellphone users can sleuth out vote tampering. We should reward companies that stand up against censorship, as Google has done in China.

5. “Get more brains involved in solving problems.” Undertapping human capital endangers the future. Open courseware from colleges is making higher education universally accessible. Crowd-sourced problem solving is being advanced by sites such as PatientsLikeMe, Foldit (protein folding), and Cstart (moon exploration). Perhaps the next step is “society sourcing.”

6. “Try not to run out of energy.” When energy expenditure outweighs energy return, collapse ensues. Email saves trees and trucking. Online shopping is a net energy gain, with UPS optimizing delivery routes and never turning left. We need to expand the ability to hold meetings and conferences online.

See the webinar explaining these things, here.

These hard to dispute maxims were developed by the flashy neuroscientist, David Eagleman. He presented them to the Long Now Foundation, an institute that makes a boat load of money selling guru-esque science, technology, and economics books and seminars. Like TED Talks, the Long Now Foundation presents new thinking in a compelling way, salesy way. 

Yes, I’m skeptical of TED and Long Now, mostly because they present information with a tone of all-knowing infallibility. One also has to be particularly “alpha” in order to make a presentation with either of these organizations - a disposition that the vast majority of researchers do not have. This method of presentation only supports a certain type of researcher, while thousands of others are left behind.

So, on the one hand, these organizations vacuum-up large sums of cash from an easily-entertained, science hungry public. On the other hand, ‘science-as-entertainment’ might be the best way to communicate heavy and complex ideas to wider audiences. Is “sci-tainment" sustainable? How long until the public becomes jaded from watching TED Talks and Long Now? How long will these organizations last? What are the long term effects of these things on various fields of scientific research?

Has anyone quantified the social impacts or value of TED Talks and the Long Now Foundation?

What do you think? Am I being too harsh on these venues?

Two ancient Mayan cities discovered in southern Mexico using aerial photographs, local knowledge, and computer models. Unknown why the cities were abandoned, but researchers speculate loss of resources like food and water supplies, changes to climate, invasion, and/or disease.

Great story via Slovenian Academy of Sciences.

insteadofwatchingtv:

Weird Places: The Bay of Fundy

Remember this invention? 19 year-old student proposed this design to clean up plastics in the oceans. The idea was picked up by TED, and green blogs exploded with glee.

I criticized the project as ineffective buffoonery and likely illegal. And several others also panned the invention as foolish and naive. Well, now the student is back with a revised version of the plastic’s clean up machine. He’s partnered with some serious engineers and PR and he formed a new company, “The Ocean Cleanup.” Video here.

A science journalist in Germany, Sarah Zierul, interviewed me and a few other experts who also criticized the machine. Sarah’s article really got to the heart of the story and you can see researched for several months to get to the facts. She re-tells the story of the young inventor, and describes the original machine and its problems, as well as the new machine and the engineering behind it. She also interviews several critics, noting how their complaints have evolved into support.

Excellent science reporting!

Read Sarah’s excellent article, here. If you don’t read German, go here.

Asian Development Bank’s new climate infographic quantifies how south Asia economy will be hit by climate impacts.

I think the bank underestimates the hit to GDP. If a storm wipes out major infrastructure (think Japan’s Fukushima), the effects on economies and lives will last for decades.

rhamphotheca:

This White-tailed Ptarmigan was spotted with her four chicks up at Logan Pass yesterday. She is part of a research study to determine changes in habitat location and breeding numbers.

White-tailed ptarmigans are well-adapted to high elevations and cool temperatures. Rising temperatures (3x the global average rise in temperature) at high elevations over the last century means change for this alpine specialist.

According to researcher David Benson, data from the ptarmigan study shows that “white-tailed ptarmigan in Glacier have changed distribution, altered habitat preferences, and perhaps on a local scale, experienced declining population numbers in late summer.” (ms)

What a beeeeautiful bird! Lives in Montana. Of course, endangered because humans.

The report claims the eruption could strand 10 million travelers.

Massive toxic spill in British Columbia pollutes streams and lakes. The Mount Polley Mine mines copper and gold. These mines require massive amounts of toxic acids to “eat” the rocks that contain the copper and gold. The waste is “contained” in a big retention pond (in this case a huge lake). The ponds just sit there with no plans for clean up. Humans are banned from the ponds. Governments say they are safe (despite that ponds fail on average of 30%).

Millions of tons of harmful metals, soils, and wastewater spilled into pristine habitat. Canada’s response? Whooppsy! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Above images: NASA and CBC.

An earthen dam at Mount Polley Mine in British Columbia breached on August 4, 2014, sending contaminated water surging into nearby lakes. Wastewater and metal-laden sand spilled from a retention basin and triggered a water-use ban in Likely, British Columbia, and other nearby towns. Local authorities had lifted the ban as of August 12.

On August 5, nearly all of the wastewater in the retention basin had drained, exposing the silty bottom. Hazeltine Creek, normally about 1 meter (3 feet) wide, swelled to a width of 150 meters (490 feet) as a result of the spill. In the aftermath of the flood, a layer of brown sediment coated forests and stream valleys affected by the spill. Notice how much forest immediately north of the retention basin was leveled. Debris, mainly downed trees, are visible floating on Quesnel Lake.

Video:

Several excellent Canadian, environmental, and political tumblrs are covering the spill: https://www.tumblr.com/search/mount+polley+mine.

This is one of the two toughest arguments any active environmentalist will face in their career: Environmental protection violates my property rights." The other tough argument is: "Environmental protection will cost hundreds of jobs."

There are a ton of techniques to overcome these objections (going to law school doesn’t hurt, though it’s damned expensive). The best way is to work together. I know, I know, cats and dogs, democrats and republicans, heaven and hell. But you’d be surprised at how easy it is to work together so long as each side agrees to listen to one another.

There are two books I recommend that can help you functionally overcome these objections. Both of these books start by insisting you build a strong foundation of negotiation skills. The first is Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, the other is Overcoming Obstacles in Environmental Policymaking.They’ll also serve you well in other contexts.

Amazing (yes really!) to watch what happens when thunderstorms strike the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta-Hartsfield. The planes fly around the storm clouds to land safely. Must see.