Understanding Climate Risk

Science, policy and decision-making

Archive for the ‘Adaptation’ Category

Prize poster: communicating adaptation

leave a comment »

Last week at the Climate Adaptation in Action 2012 Conference my colleague Celeste Young won the poster prize with her poster Communicating Adaptation Effectively. It’s good to see a poster on communication that, well — communicates.

Winning poster Communicating Adaptation Effectively (C Young)  Climate Adaptation in Action 2012 – NCCARF Conference, June 2012.

This is a seriously good poster. It’s clear, full of useful points and provides a framework for communication. Certainly worth having as a prompt when project planning or engaging in communication activities. The poster itself and handout can be downloaded below. It can also be applied to pretty much any environmental or planning issue.

Creative Commons Licence
Communicating Adaptation Effectively by Celeste Young is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

CYoung comms poster handout CYoung comms poster

Young, C. (2012) Communicating Adaptation Effectively. Proceedings Climate Adaptation in Action 2012 – NCCARF Conference, Melbourne June 26-29, 2012.

July Update

with one comment

Thanks all for your comments to the last post, which didn’t really explain my absence, but now the world hasn’t ended…

Thinking about it, there were a few reasons as to why this blog went a bit quiet. A short list, then you can bother me to give further updates on some of these matters, because they are of interest.

  • Early May was taken up with the writing and submission of the IPCC Working Group II First Order Draft. A frantic few weeks as the coauthors of the chapter Foundations of Decision-making worked hard to get a complete draft. The report is now in review and if readers are feeling a bit expertised, instructions for registering can be found here.
  • Then straight to Den Haag, The Netherlands for a meeting on the new emission scenarios process, specifically on the shared socio-economic pathways that are being developed. These will contribute to new scenarios involving climate, social and economic change for modelling by research groups around the world. The topic was how to linked the needs of integrated assessment modelling with impacts, adaptation and vulnerability research. A summary presentation given to the UNFCCC by meeting organiser Tom Kram just afterwards can be found here (pdf).
  • A week back to catch up with a few things, then off the Adaptation Futures conference in Tucson Arizona. Second international conference after the one on the Gold Coast two years ago. The research is slowly becoming more developed as research and implementation are becoming more closely linked. I spoke on what non-linear climate change means for adaptation and hired a road bike for the week, climbing this big mountain (except I rode from the centre of town, not the foot of the climb). Turned out it was maybe Tucson’s hottest day ever measured. Have a few pics of the Sonora Desert that I’ll upload when there’s a bit of spare time.
  • Then back in Australia, attended a design charrette in Sea Lake, northern Victoria as we talked adaptation with the locals. A really interesting 24 hours – the locals have been really resilient over time but are still suffering loss of population due to underlying economic drivers. Capacity building in local government is a key issue. Telling stories about climate giving a “deep” history of change over time is much better to feed into discussion than presenting facts and figures (though it’s good to have them in publications to give away).
  • Gave a talk on 19 June on the Ecology of the City, for a series of talkes hosted by Geoff Lacey at the Augustine Centre in Hawthorne on sustainability. Another “deep history” of Melbourne as a meeting place, from geology and biodiversity, to people and climate.
  • Still back in town, wrote a context paper on adaptation and industry with Celeste Young in preparation for the Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research annual forum Monday June 25, which was closely followed by the NCCARF national conference Climate Adaptation in Action 2012. This conference was also pretty big showcasing the work that’s going on in Australia, where research and practise are also coming closer together, though there’s a way to go. At both events we showed that it’s possible to have fun and engage serious topics, with a hypothetical orgnaised by the Environmental Defenders Office and hosted by Rob Gell on the Monday (I was a green developer in 2032) and an intelligent squared debate on Wednesday set up by Kate Auty, Commissioner of Sustainability for Victoria. The latter on science policy got into a number of issues that are exercising state of the art research, but in an entertaining manner. Down with boring panels, I say.
  • Next week is the 41st Australian Conference of Economists here at Victoria University. I’m on a boring panel on climate change which will be a little less boring as I castigate economists for not communicating their discipline effectively, especially when it comes to the economics of climate change.

Can post presentations from these events and will put up links when the conference material becomes public. Of course, I need to produce and bury a huge amount of compost to offset those flights (beyond the offsets I’ve already purchased), but that amount of travelling is not normal for me – I’m usually on a bike, not in a plane. Got a lung infection on the way back from the States that required a tonne of antibiotics – not blaiming my trashing of my immune system due to climbing big mountains, though. So that’s why no posts for a bit – better now: good to be back on the bike.

Climate steps at The Conversation

with one comment

Rapid warming in SE Australia challenges plans to adapt gradually

Step changes in warming of a few tenths to 1°C can produce rapid changes in risks such as extreme heat and fire danger. Yet, adaptation-planning that follows the dominant model of smooth climate change makes gradual adjustments to keep up with small changes in extremes. In these circumstances, a rapid change can catch sensitive systems out. Poorly planned responses may also lead to maladaptation.

47hbrh7c-1333066085

Studies of prehistoric climate change in Victoria’s western lakes imply that future changes might not be smooth.
 Dacre Smith's painting of Lake Gnotuk, from Views of Victoria in the steps of von Guerard.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Roger Jones

March 30, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Climate shifts paper published

with 4 comments

The climate shifts paper on non-linear anthropogenic climate change in SE Australia with earlier descriptions here and herehas been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research. We had plans to make it open access  but must not have paid the invoice yet, so it’s behind a paywall here (pdf). If you can’t get access, get in touch with me via comment below or email (firstname.lastname at vu.edu.au) and I’ll send a reprint.

Following is an edit of the draft press release that should go out in the next week or so. The press release implies that this pretty much goes on everywhere – not just SE Australia. That’s what I believe from further work currently underway – the ocean runs the climate system and the atmosphere doesn’t warm quite the way people assume it does. The energy from greenhouse warming goes into the ocean first, then is re-emitted periodically into the atmosphere. The atmosphere doesn’t warm in situ (or not yet to any significant degree). It may later under increased radiative forcing, but at the moment the ocean is pretty much running the show. This pattern of non-linear change fits in with palaeoclimatic evidence from the region that I’ll get round to describing some time.

Read the rest of this entry »

Climate shifts and extremes

with one comment

This posts looks at how climate shifts affect extremes using the example of heat extremes in SE Australia. We had another burst of hot weather this week, which led to rolling power blackouts in South Australia. These are becoming more common, as our electricity bills rise to pay for network infrastructure. In every year but one since 1997, the Laverton, Victoria climate record has registered at least 1 day above 40°C. For those of you interested in how the science of detecting and projecting extremes is carried out, there is a comprehensive background on methods. For those who are just interested in results, page down to the results section. Read the rest of this entry »

Planning with plasticine

with 2 comments

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Roger Jones

November 30, 2011 at 4:31 pm

IPCC SREX released

leave a comment »

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

Environment Canada budget slashed: Adaptation and Impacts Research shut down

with 3 comments

The conservative Harper Government in Canada has cut over $200 million from the budget of Environment Canada, resulting in the loss of 1,211 jobs over the next three years. Some of the biggest cuts were in the program activities of Climate Change and Clean Air, Substance and Waste Management, Weather and Environmental Services, Water Resources and Internal Services. The programs that were cut this year include, the Clean Air Agenda and the Air Quality Health Index. The programs that will be cut next year include Species at Risk.

Included in the swingeing cuts is the Adaptation and Impacts Research branch. From their website:

Environment Canada has undertaken impacts and adaptation science for more than 15 years, developing methodologies and tools, and interpreting climate and weather data.  Environment Canada conducts impacts research to improve our understanding of the sensitivities of sectors, regions, people and property to a changing climate in order to help develop appropriate adaptation actions, with implementing partners, for the benefit of all Canadians.  Multi-disciplinary studies have led to numerous adaptation success stories to safeguard health, safety, economic competitiveness and the biological diversity of Canada.

Professor Ian Burton:

I  regret to have to tell you that the Adaptation and Impact Research group that I established in Environment Canada some
17 years ago has  been axed (It’s not quite dead yet but most of the senior scientists have received “surplus to requirements” letters). This is just the first round of the drastic budget cutting that is expected.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Roger Jones

August 7, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Total failure to adapt

leave a comment »

Joseph Romm of Climate Progress had an article on Grist that was reprinted on Climate Spectator, detailing cuts to climate adaptation funding being either planned or implemented by the Republican controlled lower house in the US. Some of them are committee recommendations, others are contained in appropriation bills. Not being totally au fait with US political governance, I’m assuming they all have to get through the Democrat-controlled Senate. Still, they make chilling reading:

NOAA CLIMATE SERVICE: In the Commerce, Justice, and Science committee report, “it is the Committee’s intention that no funds shall be used [PDF] to create a Climate Service at NOAA.”

ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS CLIMATE READINESS: Language in the Energy and Water appropriation committee report offered by Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) prohibits spending on response to climate change in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects, with $4.9 million cut from their budget and transferred to the Spending Reduction Account. Approved by a House vote of 218-191.

AGRICULTURE CLIMATE READINESS: A rider in the Agriculture appropriation (Sec. 755) blocks the Agriculture Department (USDA) from carrying out its Policy Statement on Climate Adaptation. The rider by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) would prevent the USDA from even assessing what impacts climate change might have on farmers, foresters and other landholders. Approved by a House vote of 238-179.

HOMELAND SECURITY CLIMATE READINESS: A provision in the Homeland Security appropriation (H.R. 2017, Sec. 707) offered by Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) prevents the Department of Homeland Security from running its Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. Approved by a House vote of 242-180. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Roger Jones

August 5, 2011 at 12:57 am

After the floods – reactive vs planned responses

leave a comment »

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has proposed a flood levy and spending cuts and deferrals to help pay the bill for the recent Queensland floods. Referring to it as “a natural disaster of unprecedented proportions”, she is now on the road to persuade others in government, industry and the community to back her plan.

It’s worth having a closer look at, with details here and here .

It comprises:

  • $2.8 billion in spending cuts, including removing industry assistance and cutting back other green programs by abolishing the Green Car Innovation Fund and the Cleaner Car Rebate Scheme and making other cuts.
  • $1 billion in delaying some infrastructure projects– which will free up funds and skilled workers at a time of skilled labour shortages around the country.
  • $1.8 billion through a progressive levy on people earning over $50,000. This will only apply to income above the $50,000 threshold. Anyone directly affected by the floods will not have to pay the levy at all.

I’m not arguing against the levy or the scheme in total, but feel that the current approach is reactive and not strategic. My position is that we are facing a long-term issue rather than just recovering from a short-term disaster.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Roger Jones

January 28, 2011 at 12:32 pm