Climate Adaptation


I want to punch climate change in the face. A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature. - FAQs - Follow - Face - Ask - Donations - Climate Book Store

Former archbishop of Canterbury reveals global climate change fears

Wealthy nations pledged billions to help the poor adapt to climate change. Where did it all go?

What does this climate aid actually look like? Where has it all gone so far? And are wealthy nations really going to put up $100 billion per year in climate finance in the years to come? Here’s a breakdown:

—2010-2012: The first $35 billion in climate aid. Between 2010 and 2012, the world’s wealthy nations say they provided $35 billion to help poorer countries adjust to climate change, as promised at Copenhagen. (You can see a full breakdown of these pledges from the World Resources Institute here.)

The vast majority of that aid — $27 billion — came from five countries: Germany, Japan, Norway, Britain, and the United States. And most of it went toward clean energy, efficiency, and other mitigation projects around the world. Only a small slice, about $5 billion, went toward helping poor countries prepare for the actual impacts of climate change, like droughts or heat waves.

For instance, Norway gave Brazil $1 billion to help prevent deforestation. The United States gave the Congo Basin $15.7 million to preserve rain forest biodiversity. Japan gave Egypt a $338 million loan for wind power. Via WaPo

Day One of the UN Climate Conference, Warsaw, Poland

COP 19

Day  Calendar of side events
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British Council climate champion, Jelena Kiselova, summarises the achievements of COP 18 and highlights the key issues for attention over the coming two weeks of COP 19.
 ‘Nudge’ insights could prove useful when negotiating the legal architecture for the 2015 climate agreement argues Joy Hyvarinen from FIELD.
Benito Müller and Niklas Höhne present the benefits of taking a staged approach to negotiating new mitigation commitments under the Durban Platform processes.
Athena Ballesteros from WRI summarises key messages from the UNFCCC’s work-programme on long-term finance and discusses their significance for COP 19
A global approach to emissions trading is needed to successfully tackle the carbon emissions from the aviation and shipping industries, argues Rafael Leal-Arcas from Queen Mary University of London.
Anette Friis from Danish Agriculture and Food Council explains how a new resource hopes to help COP 19 participants better understand the relationship between climate change and agriculture.
UNDP India’s Dhanapal G reveals the connection between India’s increasing energy efficiency and growth in renewables, and UNFCCC financial mechanisms.
YOUNGO Focal Points Liang-Yi Chang and Jamie Peters recall the events of last week’s Conference of Youth, which saw hundreds of young people gather to prepare for COP 19.

I was wondering, what regions and what environmental issues are you the most concerned about?

A question by liberalwithguts

Hey liberalwithguts!

Thanks a lot for following me all this time. Well, at a cerebral level, I worry that China is getting a free pass. The argument in favor of China’s growth while getting away with horrible environmental harms is basically that the country first has to grow and stabilize. This is hard to argue against. Once incomes and education and health indicators are at a certain level, so says the Chinese government, only then will they remediate their environmental destructions. (Go here for a list of China’s Environmental Issues). Only consumer-based economies have proven track records following this rapid growth/aggressive resource extraction and then stabilization/clean up model.

Most western countries followed this approach, too - rapid economic growth paired with extreme resource extraction, then efficiencies through technology, and then clean up. I’d argue that major countries, the UN, and the World Bank encourage this model.

Severe though China’s problems with water, soil and air are, they are not different in kind from those of other nations in the past. As Pan Jiahua of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) puts it, “We’re following the US, Japan and UK and because of inertia we don’t have the capacity to stop quickly.” Via

But I think China is different than the West. It’s compressing what Europe and the U.S. did in 400 years down to 25. China’s ravaging ecosystems at such great speeds and big scales that there’s no built-in recovery time.

During that 400 year growth period, New England, for example, was deforested four times. How four times? Because the forests had time to bounce back and recover. I’m not saying America is righteous. I’m saying that China seems to be ignoring the capabilities of ecosystems to recover at such rapid paces and large scales - it cannot deforest four times in 25 years.

In August, the Economist explored how China’s rapid growth comes at the expense of tremendous environmental pollution. Check it out if you can.

In real life I worry about sea level rise along coasts in western countries. Yes, poor countries will be hit hard. Distasteful as it sounds, coastal communities in poor countries can be moved (sometimes by force) much more easily than, say, Manhattan or Miami. And the world needs the economies of western countries in order to recover. If the west suffers, so will the rest of the world with respect to environmental recovery and disaster response efforts.

You can read about displaced people, called Climate Refugees, here.



WTF is the IPCC?
Disaster risk reduction gets only 0.4 percent of aid - report


"A haven for human rights can be built for everyone, block by block." - New Lego model of United Nations Headquarters unveiled. Note, the UN building was designed by 11 of the world’s most famous architects, including leads Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer, and Wallace Harrison, Max Abramovitz, Sir Robertson, etc. Illustrations of the building, here.

What are your thoughts on vegetarianism/veganism? Especially taking into consideration the possibility of a (worsening) global food crisis.

A question by Anonymous

Hey anon,

I generally avoid food posts, but am interested in the infrastructure that supports food systems.

One part of my current contract with USAID is a resilient wheat project in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is the 6th largest wheat producer in the world and mostly exports to east and central Europe, the Caucuses, and Asia.

Farmers there are facing three main issues: extreme temperature swings, which are increasing in frequency and causing terrible economic havocs; when to plant their crop, a problem because the planting timing and growing seasons are shifting; and shortage of storage silos for the wheat, especially in bumper seasons.

This last part - where to store the wheat - is probably the biggest issue developing countries (DCs) face with respect to dealing with climate impacted growing seasons. The farmers in Kazakhstan don’t trust the government, nor their seasonal forecastings. Nor do they (generally) reliably purchase crop insurance. So, the farmers tend to plant “when my neighbor plants,” put their finger to the wind, and hope for a good season. It’s very risky, and very unstable. They lose when there is a bad year, due to bad timing of planting, storms, droughts, etc.

But, and back to your question-ish, some years produce so much wheat that the farmers actually lose money. The reason is two fold. First, they lose on market price. The market price goes down when there is an abundance of wheat, it goes up when there is a shortage. The other problem with high-volumes is that there’s no storage system or infrastructure to support a storage system. Thus, all the silos get filled very quickly when all farmers produce record crops - when the silos are filled, the wheat is literally thrown away. 

Tl;dnr, “the food crisis” is typically not due to a bad weather year, but due to inefficiencies in distribution. There’s plenty of food grown in the world. Climate change will affect the patterns of growth, but not to such an extent that the systems cannot adapt and adjust.

Getting crops from farm to table is the real issue…

Check out the UN’s Food Security program for more.



UN report to point to mounting climate challenge
$10 billion for climate resilience?

Free climate change class on forestry.

The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, Rainforest Alliance, and the World Wildlife Fund are pleased to announce the release of three new, self-paced and web-based courses on climate change and REDD+ on

The curriculum, Introductory Curriculum on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Conserving and Enhancing Forest Carbon Stocks (REDD+), provides an introductory level of understanding on climate change, deforestation, forest degradation, and REDD+. This new version contains up-to-date information on policy and implementation as well as a cool new facelift and improved interactivity. It is divided into three courses:

Course 1, Introduction to Climate Change and the Role of Forests, the focus is on background information on climate change, the drivers of deforestation, and strategies for reducing deforestation and forest degradation.

Course 2, REDD+ Policy, we cover the essential aspects of the technical, political, financial, social, and environmental issues related to REDD+.

Course 3, REDD+ Implementation, the focus is on the basics of implementing REDD+ activities at various scales.

The course is freely available to anyone who is interested.

Basically, methods to conserve forests.

“ The world has failed us ”


President Rafael Correa said Thursday that he has abandoned a unique and ambitious plan to persuade rich countries to pay Ecuador not to drill for oil in a pristine Amazon rainforest preserve.

Environmentalist had hailed the initiative when Correa first proposed it in 2007, saying he was setting a precedent in the fight against global warming by lowering the high cost to poor countries of preserving the environment.

Correa reverses his position, gets ready to drill the Amazon.

He said the global recession was in part responsible but chiefly blamed “the great hypocrisy” of nations who emit most of the world’s greenhouse gases.

“It was not charity that we sought from the international community, but co-responsibility in the face of climate change.”

Correa had sought $3.6 billion in contributions to maintain a moratorium on drilling in the remote Yasuni National Park, which was declared a biosphere reserve by the United Nations in 1989 and is home to two Indian tribes living in voluntary isolation.

But he said Thursday evening that Ecuador had raised just $13 million in actual donations in pledges and that he had an obligation to his people, particularly the poor, to move ahead with drilling. The U.N. and private donors had put up the cash.

Correa said he was proposing to the National Assembly, which his supporters control, oil exploration in Yasuni amounting to less than 1 percent of its 3,800 square miles

His no-drilling plan had envisioned rich countries paying Ecuador half the $7.2 billion in revenues expected to be generated over 10 years from the 846 million barrels of heavy crude estimated to be in Yasuni.

Not drilling in the reserve would keep 410 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, officials had said during their global lobbying campaign that included organizing tours of the reserve for journalists.

But while Correa’s proposal generated interest, there were few takers, in part because he insisted that Ecuador alone would decide how the donations would be spent. European countries expressed the most interest but still balked.

Ecuador is an OPEC member that depends on oil for a third of its national budget. The three oil fields in Yasuni represent 20 percent of its oil reserves. Via