Understanding Climate Risk

Science, policy and decision-making

Archive for November 2011

Planning with plasticine

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Planning Adaptation with Plasticine

Every five-year old knows that plasticine is an essential learning and building tool. On the 17th and 18th of November a group of researchers, planners and regional managers explored plasticine as a planning tool at a workshop in Bendigo, Victoria.

The workshop itself was a design charette, an intensive episode of creative brainstorming. Charettes were developed in France by design students scrambling to meet a deadline. They involve experts and the lay public addressing a design problem by developing a set of scenarios in a loosely structured and creative way.

Four design scenarios from the Bendigo charette

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Written by Roger Jones

November 30, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Spinning uncertainty – IPCC SREX Redux

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I have an article on The Conversation Spinning uncertainty? The IPCC extreme weather report and the media. This works up some of the material in my previous post on the IPCC Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation Summary for Policymakers (IPCC SREX SPM). It gives, I reckon, a pretty good overview of the SPM and puts some of The Australian newspaper’s reporting of it under the spotlight. Go read.

One thing I didn’t mention was that there was a second story in The Australian tagged November 19 12:00 am that quoted Benny Peiser, directors of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a UK climate change foggery set up by Lord Nigel Lawson. (It was reposted on the GWPF site). He said:

“there was not a strong empirical link between anthropogenic climate change and weather events”.

“It is unlikely there will be one for 20 to 30 years,” he said.

He said any suggestion that recent weather events could be directly linked to climate change went directly against the general scientific consensus.

Ummm, extreme temperatures? Right now?

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Written by Roger Jones

November 23, 2011 at 11:39 pm

IPCC SREX released

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The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) for the IPCC Special Report Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) was released late last night our time. The final plenary was held in Kampala Uganda, finishing on the 17th before the release yesterday. As usual, it is gone through line by line by IPCC country member representatives and the co-ordinating lead authors to craft a document that contains key policy messages while retaining true to the science in the report.

The SPM is complex and has already been given a number of interpretations in the press. The ABC news says extreme weather to worsen with climate change. The Australian focuses on the uncertainty Climate change effects unknown: IPCC report. A quick survey of Google news suggests that most outlets are focusing on extremes to worsen, or the qualified some extremes to worsen.

The Australian is different. Its header says:

GREAT uncertainty remains about how much of an impact climate change will have on future extreme weather events, the world’s leading climate scientists have found.

While there has been an increase in warm days and a decrease in cold nights, the likely impact on future weather events would not be evident for decades because of natural variability, the scientists say in a key review prepared for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This completely ignores the thrust of the report, which is to address the risks of extreme climate-related events and disasters and manage changing risk through adaptation. The great value of the report is not so much in its headline findings, which are complex but are in bringing the climate, adaptation and disaster communities together. These two communities had a hard time of it in the writing of the report bringing together different language, concepts, views of risk and methods of assessing vulnerability and adaptation. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Roger Jones

November 19, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Revkin on Australia’s coal exports: the elephant in the national climate policy room

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Andrew Revkin of Dot Earth has contacted a few researchers on both sides of the big pond to comment on what Australia’s national carbon management legislation might mean for the US. The overall view was that Australia’s current situation is affected by our political context, limiting its ability to translate to the US situation, but that the effectiveness of the legislation was definitely improved by the committee process that resulted from the last federal election. He returned last week to ask the question: I find it hard to believe that anyone who cares about GLOBAL greenhouse gas emissions /concentrations could cheer the (Australian) law, and – if so – I’d have to ask why? The motivation for this question was Australia’s coal exports, which are largely untouched by the legislation (a fact, widely touted as a good thing for the economy).

This is a really interesting and difficult question and garnered a range of comments that reveal substantial disagreements between experts. Read all the responses on Dot Earth. I’m torn by this question because I:

  1. Do cheer the legislation for what it can potentially achieve, and
  2. Don’t think it does much for rising international emissions due to the economic boom. The boom has accelerated growth in coal-generated carbon emissions since 2000, mainly growth in China, and affects emission projections out to 2020 and beyond as India and other countries join in.

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Written by Roger Jones

November 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Environmentality 98.9 NW FM podcast

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Did a long interview for Environmentality on public radio 98.9 North West FM Melbourne on Wednesday November 9. It’s an environmental show and they put up their interviews on podcast for anyone interested. It covers past, present and future climate, what drives non-linear changes and a few other things. Their podcasts may of interest to people into the local environment but they also cover wider issues. Get their podcasts here. Thanks to Smokey and Jaime.

Written by Roger Jones

November 12, 2011 at 8:54 am

Sunday Age 10 Questions on Climate Change – the final two

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The Sunday Age – OurSay readers questions on climate change are down to the last two:

  1. ”THE claim ‘the science is settled’ is plainly false due to the many problems with the AGW [anthropogenic global warming] hypothesis (e.g. global temperatures have not risen since 1998 despite rising CO2 levels; alarmism is based on flawed models that do not reflect empirical measurements.)” 
  2. ”Why is the Australian public asked to swallow the ‘carbon dioxide is a dangerous climate-changing pollution’ crap when science shows no observed relationship between global climate and atmospheric carbon dioxide? There is no physical evidence showing a relationship between temperature and CO2, only computer models which give different answers according to whatever assumption data you put in. But there is a very close relationship between temperature and solar activity … Why, when thousands of respected scientists signed a petition saying they don’t agree there is a problem, are we being forced to give up billions in tax dollars to waste on trying to stop carbon dioxide emissions?” 

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