Saturday, September 20, 2014

New U.S. EPA video: "Anticipate, Prepare, Adapt."

Yesterday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a 3 min. 25 sec. YouTube video titled "Climate Change: The Cost of Inaction" featuring EPA Senior Advisor for Climate Adaptation Joel D. Scheraga (an economist by training). He ends the video by calling for viewers to reduce GHGs and  to "anticipate, prepare, adapt." The viewer is then directed to "epa.gov/climatechange/wycd" - "What you can do."

The video gives a quick overview of climate change impacts and examples of climate events in recent years that had large price tags for communities-- with price tag estimates captioning the photos and slo-mo videos of devastation from Sandy and Katrina, floods and droughts. Two of the highlights (well, lowlights) are in the U.S. west -- Lake Mead's current historic low behind the Hoover Dam and California's drought-driven wildfire season, priced here at "$260 million and rising in federal fire suppression" for the year thus far (wish there was a citation... is this just the U.S. Forest Service price tag,  is it actual or estimated?).

"What you can do" according to the EPA is do-able but not likely to change our adaptation outcomes, not even if every single one of us did them to our utmost extent at a household level. We are coached:
You can reduce emissions through simple actions like changing a light bulb, powering down electronics, using less water, and recycling. 
It's great to give people a list of 25 things "you can do" to reduce GHGs. Reducing GHGs today are crucial to the adaptation potential of coming generations.

But this problem requires industry-wide, government-wide, world-wide action. Eventually people will catch on that this household to-do list is the equivalent of asking "Do you think your leg is broken?" and suggesting "Make sure your grandchildren take calcium!" instead of "Call 911!"

EPA, where is your guidance on the video's closing commands, "anticipate, prepare, adapt"? 

The EPA "what you can do" page says NOTHING to the person who wants to prepare for today's impacts, addresses NONE of the factors that studies have shown lead to better outcomes after disasters (such as being socially connected to your community, having access to health care, having access to transportation, etc.). They could easily kick the reader over to a page about the importance of community gardens to food security and local environmental awareness-- starting or joining a garden is something "you can do" that might actually help people cope with the current and ongoing climate impacts. Or go to a climate march, like the one in NYC planned for tomorrow. Let the political powers-that-be know we care.

EPA, I like your video, but if you are worried about our communities dealing with climate impacts don't just tell us to change a light bulb and fix a dripping faucet. You can do better.

Monday, September 15, 2014

California's Adaptation Clarion Call - the California Adaptation Forum

Check out my new contribution to the WWF ClimatePrep blog:
California's Adaptation Clarion Call - about my experience at the California Adaptation Forum (CAF), held Aug. 19-20, 2014, in Sacramento.

For more vicarious enjoyment of the CAF:

Check out the PowerPoint presentations from the Forum.

You can also buy the audio recordings of all the Forum sessions - $200 for all the recordings, otherwise $10 a pop. Audio clip #CAF14-204 will get you the recording of the session I moderated,
"California Coastal Fog: An Untapped and Little-Known Water Resource?" although it can't be fully appreciated by audio - we had fog special effects and fog collectors. But you can see our 124-slide fog presentation here.

Here are the video recordings of the four plenary sessions (free!):

Aug. 19 Morning Welcome - various state officials and representatives
Kate Meis - Local Government Commission and state government representatives Mike McCormick and Ken Alex - Office of Planning and Research, Mary Nichols - Air Resources Board, Ken Pimlott - CalFire, and Fran Spivy-Weber - State Water Board.

Aug. 19 Lunch - the role of the for-profit private sector in climate change
Kish Rajan - Office of Business Development, John Makower - GreenBiz Group, Christopher Benjamin - PG&E, Kathy Gerwig - Kaiser Permanente, Stephanie Rico - Wells Fargo.

Aug. 20 Morning  (the best of the bunch) - on partnerships
The inimitable Jack Mackenzie from the City Council of Rohnert Park moderating a discussion including: Salud Carbajal - Santa Barbara County Supervisor, Rick Cole - City of Los Angeles Deputy Mayor for Budget and Innovation, Nicola Hedge - Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation (ARCCA) Vice Chair and Director of the San Diego Foundation's Climate Initiative, Alice Hill - Senior Advisor for Preparedness and Resilience to the President's Assistant for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (White House National Security Council). John Laird, the head of the state's Natural Resources Agency, finished off the morning plenary with a moving speech about the lessons he's learned on making the right - if unpopular - decision in a position of political leadership.

This is the one plenary I would like to re-watch, especially for the contributions of Rick Cole, Alice Hill, and John Laird. And the antics of Jack Mackenzie, with his warm Scottish humor.

Aug. 20 Closing - Keynote by Mayor Rex Parris
Featuring Wade Crowfoot - Deputy Cabinet Secretary and Senior Advisor to the Governor introducing the keynote speaker R. Rex Parris, the Mayor of the City of Lancaster, a Republican who believes in climate change preparedness.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Are farmers responding to the right signals? - WWF Climate Prep Blog feature

I've been remiss in updating this little blog o' mine lately, but I do have something to show for it-- a guest-author article on the WWF Climate Prep blog! I decided to write about some recent research done in California and Europe on the choices farmers are making around climate change adaptation. Read my article here:

Farmland in Flux - July 8, 2014 - WWF Climate Prep blog

I promise my readers I will get back in the groove with this blog now that the summer doldrums are upon us.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Stanford Researcher: Windmills Slow Hurricanes

This blows my mind, no pun intended.

From the March 1, 2014, Economist: Hurricane protection: The windmills of your mind: A madcap idea to protect America's coasts from storms

Here's a hyperlinked Feb. 26 Stanford newsletter item about Dr. Mark Jacobson's computer simulations of wind farms lessening hurricane strength:  Offshore wind farms could tame hurricanes before they reach land, Stanford-led study says

Read Dr. Jacobson's paper (with C. Archer and W. Kempton) as published in Nature Climate Change (online Feb. 26, 2014):

Taming Hurricanes With Arrays of Offshore Wind Turbines

 I think I'm going to have to read all of these articles several times to wrap my brain around this.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Climate Readiness Institute launch at UC Berkeley today

I am tweeting as @stripeygirlcat at the launch of the Climate Readiness Institute at the Brower Center at UC Berkeley today-- follow me! (I only use that account for climate change-related posts, no live-tweeting the Oscars will ever occur there.)

There is quite a brain trust here today. Inspiring.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

It was Peaceful on Zero Allocation Day - California Water Law Symposium Report-Back

I've been in and out of one climate change-related stakeholder meeting, conference, workshop, symposium, training or another since mid-January, it seems-- I haven't had time to catch my breath and update this blog. There's been much afoot, with the new iteration of the California Climate Adaptation Strategy out in draft format for comment,and the official onset of drought in California Jan. 17, and the related gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes. Not to make light of it, but the fact that California has a water problem is not very new news. We haven't had serious precip here since December 2012. In fact, one scientist says it may be the driest water year in 500 years (per a Jan. 21 article based on an interview with paleoclimatologist B. Lynn Ingram at UC Berkeley).

Yesterday was a highlight of the recent onslaught of climate change-related gatherings-- the California Water Law Symposium

Some notes:

ZERO ALLOCATION DAY, a Friday, was a quiet day. Fish and farms have nothing to fight over. Finally these interests have something (no water) in common.

John Leshy: Looking back, California used to have 150 yr-long droughts; it was settled in an unusually wet period; all our distribution systems were designed for a larger volume of water than we can expect in the future.

Forrest Melton: NASA Ames is using satellites (2 landsats, 2 MODIS) and ground data (CIMIS -- the California Irrigation Management Information System) to calculate how much to irrigate given evapotranspiration-- super efficient use of water!

Jay Lund: Everyone thinks the solution to drought is to build reservoirs. But it's not Field of Dreams-- build a basin and it will fill with water-- we are losing snowmelt as a source, we shouldn't invest in new infrastructure that is dependent on historical conditions. Repurpose old, smaller reservoirs? Manage groundwater better!

Cliff Lee: The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is potentially going to be rendered irrelevant by climate change (which will make many historic salmon streams too shallow/warm for spawning--> some populations are doomed, ESA can't save them) 

Lester Snow: GROUNDWATER GROUNDWATER GROUNDWATER; innovation; diversification; learn to manage resources as well as we manage crises (reacting to symptoms, not problem); need to reach out to find new leadership among Latinos, Millennials-- demographic shift is salient to water planning

Desalination-- Carlsbad Project-- desal is either a totally reasonable, do-able thing or the devil's work, bound to poison the ocean at brine discharge site and tie ratepayers to high-priced, energy-intensive water

Fresh water flow into the San Francisco Bay Delta is either critical to estuary health or not, apparently evidence is disputed; a good source on the Delta is Aquafornia

That's all, pray for rain

Friday, December 20, 2013

News from the Human Rights/Climate Change Nexus: +Heat = +Native Cultural Losses, +Conflict

The Dec. 18, 2013, Al-Jazeera article "How climate change destroys human rights" by Jon Letman offers an interesting sampler plate of five recent studies and organizing efforts to illustrate the human rights/climate change nexus.

ARCTIC LOSS, NATIVE CULTURAL LOSSES

The Letman article was brought to my attention by a friend and former colleague, now at Tebtebba, because another friend and former colleague, Rodion Syulandziga from the Russian indigenous rights network RAIPON, contributed to it. (Click here for info on RAIPON in English, from the Arctic Council's website.)

Rodion points out to Letman that "[i]ncreasingly unpredictable weather and unreliable sea ice directly impacts animal migration, which affects subsistence hunting for traditional food sources like reindeer and sea mammals. Warmer temperatures ... also hasten the introduction of plant and animal diseases as southern species of fish and birds move north." And, "[i]n addition to a warming Arctic, Russia’s indigenous peoples also face the rush to exploit vast energy and mineral resources. Oil, gas, coal, nickel, iron ore, platinum and other minerals draw multi-national corporations to Russia’s most remote regions where highly restricted access makes monitoring health and safety practices, damage and pollution mitigation and other conditions difficult or impossible."

Rodion also touches on how RAIPON is being subjected to increasing threats from the Russian government. In 2012-2013 this involved using technicalities of the law to suspend the group's activities during a critical period of time (when a national RAIPON gathering was supposed to happen), ordering the arrest of a staff member on specious grounds when he was abroad at a conference, and using political pressure to increase the influence of Kremlin-friendly indigenous representatives in the organization. Indigenous communities whose cultures are predicated on the existence of permafrost and sea ice are existentially threatened by climate change, and in Russia, also by the government's repression of civil society.

MORE HEAT, MORE CONFLICT

I see another familiar reference in this article-- a link to a study of how heat correlates with aggression in Kenya, led by Solomon Hsiang, now a professor at UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy, my alma mater. He did the study with Ted Miguel of the UC Berkeley-based Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA), which analyzes the impact of development projects, and Marshall Burke, also at UC Berkeley (in Ag and Resource Economics). The study supports the idea demonstrated in other studies "that climatic events which produce temporary warming are associated with a temporary increase in violent intergroup conflict..." (p. 2). Sol Hsiang has a fascinating body of work on the social implications of climate threats.
Some highlights of Sol's work:
  • Click here for a six and a half-minute interview where he summarizes some of his findings on heat's correlation with aggression for the PBS Newshour from August 2013.

Other studies/articles referenced in the Letman article: