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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Phytoplankton swirls in water surrounding Sweden’s Gotland Island in the Baltic Sea, evoking the look of Vincent van Gogh’s famous painting "Starry Night." This masterpiece was acquired by the Landsat 7 satellite in 2005, and ranks as one of the top five images from the 41-year-long Landsat Earth observation program.

Plankton blooms like the one seen here occur when deep currents bring nutrients up to sunlit surface waters, fueling the proliferation of the tiny marine plants. This Swedish sea scene is one of more than 150 satellite vistas offered in "Earth From Space," a coffee-table book assembled by environmentalist photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand.”

Stockholm Environment Institute’s beautiful interactive Annual Report 2012

SEI is a solid source of environmental governance theory and solutions, including theories behind and application of adaptation. I’ve applied to various adaptation research positions at SEI over the years, but am consistently out-brained. Their staff are among the best researchers on the planet. Their annual report is different - beautiful and easy to read interactive. Well worth your time. 

SEI is an independent international research institute. We have been engaged in environment and development issues at local, national, regional and global policy levels for more than a quarter of a century.

The institute was formally established in 1989 by the Swedish Government, and since then we have established a reputation for rigorous and objective scientific analysis in the field of environment and development.

Managing environmental systems: Growing populations, rapid urbanization and increased consumption put unprecedented pressure on land, water and air resources. Our research addresses how to manage these resources to enhance food security for our planet’s six billion people, to reduce the health impacts of air pollution and poor sanitation, and to protect ecosystem services through sound management of land and water resources.

Reducing climate risk: The goal of this theme is to contribute to a safer climate for all. We help design, develop and implement effective and fair strategies for adaptation and mitigation in developing and developed countries, taking into account the broader challenges and policy objectives of sustainable human development.

Transforming governance: Sustainable development is essentially about giving people the opportunity to build resilience by providing them with more options in their lives and livelihoods. We advance new insights into good governance for sustainable development in the face of social and ecological change.

Rethinking development: The global economy has brought prosperity to many in the world, but it has also depleted natural resources and vital ecosystem services. Our research shows the benefits of a low carbon future and describes how we can get there. We set out alternatives for sustainable futures, from the planetary scale down to local, on-the-ground solutions.

A primer on ocean acidification. What it is. How it works. And its impacts on the ocean. From the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme.

AMAP is one of five Working Groups of the Arctic Council.

The primary function of AMAP is to advise the governments of the eight Arctic countries (Canada, Denmark/Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States) on matters relating to threats to the Arctic region from pollution, and associated issues.

Redefining sustainable development


"Climate change and other global environmental threats will increasingly become serious barriers to further human development," says lead author Professor David Griggs from Monash University in Australia. Humans are transforming Earth’s life support system — the atmosphere, oceans, waterways, forests, ice sheets and biodiversity that allow us to thrive and prosper — in ways "likely to undermine development gains", he adds.

The team asserts that the classic model of sustainable development, of three integrated pillars — economic, social and environmental — that has served nations and the UN for over a decade, is flawed and does not reflect reality.

“As the global population increases towards eight billion people sustainable development should be seen as an economy serving society within Earth’s life support system, not as three pillars,” says co-author Dr. Priya Shyamsundar from the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics, Nepal.

The six goals
The new set of goals — thriving lives and livelihoods, food security, water security, clean energy, healthy and productive ecosystems, and governance for sustainable societies — aim to resolve this conflict. The targets beneath each goal include updates and expanded targets under the MDGs, including ending poverty and hunger, combating HIV/aids, and improving maternal and child health.

But also a set of planetary “must haves”: climate stability, reducing biodiversity loss, protection of ecosystem services, a healthy water cycle and oceans, sustainable nitrogen and phosphorus use, clean air and sustainable material use.

Co-author Dr. Mark Stafford Smith, science director of CSIRO’s climate adaptation research programme in Australia says:

Read the rest at Stockholm Resilience Center

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

reuters:

A house, with its foundation washed away, hangs over a rain-swollen creek at Nyhammar in Dalarna, central Sweden, July 10, 2012. 

Areas in Sweden hit by floods are bracing themselves for further downpours and thunderstorms as a low pressure system moves across the region. [REUTERS/Leif R Jansson/Scanpix]

FULL FOCUS: The best Reuters images from the past 24 hours

Bjarke Ingels is by far the most innovative architect in the world. I’m being subtle when I say that his ideas for sustainable architecture are absolutely dazzling, not because they’re “ideas” but because his projects are being built.

I’m staying in Copenhagen right now, right near the The Mountain apartments and the Figure 8 condos, which he introduces in the beginning of the talk. Both buildings are magnificent spectacles (though, to be honest, I think they’re slightly out of place). 

In this video Ingels walks through a few projects. The crown jewel comes in at around the 10 minute mark. I can’t even describe the project but assure you it will blow your mind.

I’m headed to Copenhagen for a month starting tomorrow. Suggestions? I’ve been there a bunch before, now I’m looking for interesting and obscure lil’ nooks. I’ve seen Christiania, Nyhavn, the palace, Strøget, Tivoli, etc… Do you have any tips? Food? Art? Museums? Sights? People?

Sweden’s Green Veneer Hides Unsustainable Logging Practices

"Sweden has a reputation as being one of the world’s most environmentally progressive nations. But its surprisingly lax forestry laws often leave decisions about logging to the timber companies — and as a result, large swaths of biologically-rich boreal forest are being lost.

Large areas of forest, particularly the oldest tracts in the north, are being felled with little regard for the biodiversity they harbor, according to both conservationists and government regulators.”

Yale 360

nationalgeographicmagazine:

Sami
Gällivare, Sweden
Photographed by Erika Larsen
NOVEMBER ISSUE
Sven Skaltje was saddened to find the carcasses of two female reindeer whose antlers had become entangled during a dominance struggle in northern Sweden. He estimates it took three days for them to die of starvation. After separating the bodies, he saw from the ear markings that one belonged to him and the other to his cousin. Skaltje is much admired by the younger Sami in his herding group, but he is unsure whether the skills he teaches them will endure.

Protected areas in cities, how nature contributes to human well being, but is usually compromised for land-use development. (Note: This is from the SEI, an academic institution in Sweden that focuses on climate adaptation and cities. It’s not the best quality video. But serves as a good primer on how decision makers [read: real estate developers and city officials] see “nature” and cities). 

More scientists concerned environmental disasters caused by humans

There is a growing concern among scientists and policy makers that environmental crises are no longer the sole acts of nature but rather the result of an accelerating human-induced global change.

At the same time, a pattern is starting to unfold: crises such as floodings, famine and pandemic diseases are not only turning increasingly intense, they are also increasingly connected.

One thing leads to another
In an article published in Ecology and Society (request article), an international team of researchers including Oonsie Biggs from the centre asks if we are entering an era of ‘concatenated global crises’.

Concatenated crises are disturbances or shocks that emerge pretty much simultaneously, spread rapidly and interact with each other across the globe.

Biggs and her colleagues explored how crises such as the 2007-08 food price crisis, whose origin and effects stem from far removed parts of the world and diverse economic sectors, turned into a global crisis.

Expensive fuel means expensive food
The causes and processes leading to global crises are difficult to untangle, but it appears that the food price crisis started with soaring energy prices.

After three decades of falling prices, the price for staples such as rice increased by 255% between 2004 and 2008, largely because the price of petroleum, coal and natural in the same period increased by an average of 127%.

Largely due to soaring costs, environmental concerns and security issues, the EU and the US enacted ambitious pro-biofuel production policies. But the whole project backfired: between 2007 and 2008 the conversion of land from food to biofuel production led to an inflationary pressure on global food prices.

In an attempt to deal with the emerging food price crisis, a number of countries such as India, Egypt, Vietnam, Argentina, Russia and China sanctioned substantial restrictions on food export which inevitably lead to further increase in food prices.

"The food crisis illustrates how a series of crises interacted with national policy responses to propagate the crisis throughout a highly connected global system," Oonsie Biggs explains.

The food crisis was shortly followed by the financial crisis that reduced exports, economic growth, employment and government budgets for social support. It didn’t soften the blow on food prices much either. FAO’s Cereal Price Index was still 50% higher in January 2009 than in 2005, leaving some 457 million people at risk of hunger and malnutrition.

Partly irreducible, partly possible to detect
The questions remains: how can we deal with the uncertainty implicit in crises that are increasingly linked?

"Some uncertainties surrounding concatenated crises are probably irreducible, because they result from fundamentally unpredictable processes. However, the same increased connectivity that promotes the concatenation of crises also provides unprecedented opportunities to learn about emerging problems and coordinate a response," Biggs says.

For example, WHO uses web-crawlers to collect data that can help detect the outbreak of an epidemic. Similar approaches can be used to prevent the spread of disasters in social-ecological systems.

Overall, we need to bolster our capacity to deal with increasingly complex and interconnected crises.

"Scientific capacity for the early detection of potentially propagating crises needs to be advanced. The same goes for our understanding and awareness of feedbacks and interdependencies that can lead to impacts spreading to other systems," Oonsie Biggs concludes.

Source: Stockholm Resilience Center