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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Video: Decline of very old ice in the Arctic, 1987-2013.

Climate Study: Rising Seas Could Wipe Out Many Cultural Landmarks

Back at UMass-Amherst, my advisers asked me to create a sea-level rise vulnerability assessment of lighthouses along the coasts of Maine and Massachusetts. The idea was to create a method to integrate adaptation techniques into cultural heritage protection policies in New England. Pretty interesting concept. Especially since so much history and so many landmarks are located along coastlines. Instead, I did a study of the first tax-payer funded adaptation plan in the world in a tiny city in Denmark.

President Obama issues new Executive Order on Climate Change: "Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change"

President Obama issues new Executive Order, “Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change." The new EO, issued November 1st, directs the agencies to

1) Federal infrastructure spending will have to take climate into account. Agencies are supposed to examine their policies and find ways to help states prepare for the effects of climate change.

So, for example, federal disaster-relief programs that help coastal communities rebuild after a storm or flood will have to take into account the possibility that the next storm or flood could be even worse. Likewise, roads and bridges built with federal money will have to be planned with changing climate conditions — such as future sea-level rise — in mind.

2) Water- and land- management will get revamped. Agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior will have to review their land- and water-management policies to take shifting conditions into account.

For example, agencies will have to ”evaluate how to better promote natural storm barriers such as dunes and wetlands” and figure out “how to protect the carbon sequestration benefits of forests and lands to help reduce the carbon pollution that causes climate change.” (The EPA has already released its plans to this effect.)

3) The federal government will try to provide better data on what climate impacts are actually coming. As part of the executive order, federal agencies are supposed to offer better information “that state, local, and private-sector leaders need to make smart decisions.” - WaPo

It’s an integrative approach, folding climate science and data into decision making at the federal level. Each agency was directed to create an adaptation policy back in 2011. Now the agencies have to implement their plans and use the National Climate Assessment and other findings from peer-reviewed climate scientists. This new EO builds upon several(!) orders by the President, including Executive Order 13514, which I wrote about here.

Report: Overwhelming Risk: Rethinking Flood Insurance in a World of Rising Seas
The Hard Math of Flood Insurance in a Warming World
For readers actually into climate adaptation and urban planning, this is huge, huge news. Click here to read more about the the Flood Insurance Act of 2012. This basically undoes decades of subsidizing risky properties in the U.S.
The burden of living in risky, flood-prone areas will shift more towards the individual home owner and away from the American taxpayers.
What are your thoughts on the NFIP? Should the rates stay the same or be adjusted?  
State officials: Seas will rise

500,000 people affected in Maryland alone.

Sea Ice Changes Begin Affecting Vegetation On Land

Great maps! Check out the study. Also, shout out to Alaska Public Radio! Hi guys!

Insurers Stray From the Conservative Line on Climate Change

Kivalina: The Alaskan village set to disappear under water in a decade

Almost no one in America has heard of the Alaskan village of Kivalina. It clings to a narrow spit of sand on the edge of the Bering Sea, far too small to feature on maps of Alaska, never mind the United States.

Which is perhaps just as well, because within a decade Kivalina is likely to be under water. Gone, forever. Remembered - if at all - as the birthplace of America’s first climate change refugees.

Four hundred indigenous Inuit people currently live in Kivalina’s collection of single-storey cabins. Their livelihoods depend on hunting and fishing.

The sea has sustained them for countless generations but in the last two decades the dramatic retreat of the Arctic ice has left them desperately vulnerable to coastal erosion. No longer does thick ice protect their shoreline from the destructive power of autumn and winter storms. Kivalina’s spit of sand has been dramatically narrowed.

I have a few posts on Kivalina. The villagers tried - and lost - several times to sue oil companies and the federal government. 

Rising anxiety as climate change dominates 44th Pacific Islands Forum

Via Xinhuanet

Lawyers v drillers

Looks like a fun lawsuit to watch.

NJ Gov Vetoes Bill That Would Have Increased Coastal Damage Risk | UCSUSA

Via Union of Concerned Scientists

EPA substantially revamps its climate change pages. Tons of data, reports, charts, graphs, and factsheets now round out the agency’s information section.

Above, screens of the EPA’s “indicators”, which shows how climate change is impacting environmental systems from GHG concentration studies, to drought measurements over time, to glacial melt and sea level rise, even winter bird counts - cumulatively, the U.S. is about to experience some very dangerous environmental problems.

Sea level rise and drought are the most visible, with coast lines eroding and people’s homes slowly sliding into the ocean. Drought is also an obvious indicator the public can relate to. Water shortages in the southwest, wildfires and bark beetle forest slaughters in the midwest and west, and severe crop loss across regions. Health problems, like increased asthma, Lyme disease, though, will kill the most people, but these will slide under the visibility radar.

Check out the EPA Climate Change Indicators, here. Hover your cursor over the tabs for more options.

transatlanticenergy:

The Halligen Islands in the North Sea are one of many low-lying and island regions that are very concerned about climate change.

Not protected by dikes, the Halligens are a set of small islands (some as small as 17 acres) that have separated from the mainland after centuries of flooding and erosion. Because of the periodic storm flooding, homes on the Halligens are built atop small, artificial hills (Warften) that keep them above sea level. 

Like large areas of the Netherlands, northeastern Germany, and Denmark, the Halligen Islands are keenly aware of the risk of sea level rise due to global warming and are investing in climate adaptation strategies.