Understanding Climate Risk

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Archive for the ‘Scenarios’ Category

The problem-solution framework

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A colleague, Celeste Young has just released a guide for adaptation practitioners: The problem solution framework: process guidance for adaptation practitioners. You can download it here: Problem Solution FINAL

This is a really useful guide that doesn’t worry too much about what climate information people have to deal with, but deals with the question – “Ok, you have decided to adapt, so how do you go about it?”

From the introduction:

The problem solution framework was developed by actively working with researchers and climate change practitioners in Australia over a number of years to assist practitioners in making sense of the information they received and how to apply it in their context. What I observed during this time was that successful practitioners in this field often intuitively used innovation techniques, but did not always recognise innovation or understand how it worked. I found that in some cases practitioners were getting stuck in the problem phase and continuing to use problem framing throughout the process, which could cause barriers to action and engagement.

What needed to be understood was the changeover between the problem and solution phases, and which work practices were best suited for the different parts of the adaptation process. I also found in some cases that practitioners were moving into the solution phase without fully understanding the nature of the problem which could lead to unrealistic expectations and poor outcomes.

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Meeting Report: Adaptation Conversations

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The following article was written for an online publication but never made it out the door. It describes the recent Victorian Centre of Climate Change Adaptation Research Annual Forum. It seems a pity to waste, so here it is. Co-written with a colleague, Celeste Young.

When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change started researching adaptation in the early 1990s, the relationship between science and policy was viewed differently to how it is today. The IPCC’s brief was to offer policy-relevant, not policy-prescriptive advice. Policymakers would take scientist’s findings on climate change and impacts and develop adaptation policy to manage those impacts. These findings were contained in a report handed over from the science to the policy community every five years or so.

Times have changed. Adaptation scholars looked at this methodology (automatic download of pdf) and said “IPCC, You’re doin’ it wrong!” Adaptation is a social process. The focus has therefore shifted from getting better predictions out of science to getting a better understanding of decision-making under climate change. Sure, adaptation needs information on how the climate may change but adaptation decisions are made using information from many other sources; such as “what changes are we seeing in markets, policy, society and the environment?” And, most importantly, “what are the goals of people doing adaptation?”

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Written by Roger Jones

August 15, 2012 at 7:03 am

Posted in Adaptation, Australia, Conference, Scenarios

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July Update

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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.

Happy last year?

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Welcome all to the New Year of the western Calendar: 2012. For those with other New Years, welcome with a delay. This also pretty much equals the first year of the blog – got my report from WordPress the other day – won’t publish it, the numbers are very humble. Thank you to both my readers 🙂

This blog serves a couple of purposes. One is to get some of my thoughts into written form, another is to practise communicating complex issues simply (Ha – don’t always often succeed on that one!). Yet another is to use the research behind posts to expand my knowledge of particular issues. Many of last year’s posts are too complicated and detailed – often because I’m exploring the edges of what’s known – but in future I’ll try to balance these out with simpler summaries. There will continue to be gaps where I get too busy to post, but hopefully the regularity of posts will increase. I’m interested to hear of issues that readers and lurkers have which they would like expanded upon.

Is 2012 the last year? One of the running topics in the media this year is that it is the year of a b’ak’tun, the end of a Long Count Mayan Calendar. Some writers have linked the b’ak’tun with the apocalypse; the Mayans say that has no basis. But we love a good disaster, don’t we? Wikipedia has along post on the eschatology of 2012, showing that links to end of the world come from a variety of (mainly New Age) sources. Go read – it’s interesting and entertaining. The end is nigh!

In addition to the end of the world, other themes I follow will seek the transformation of the existing world and the path it is on into an imagined future. One that our descendants can look back from and say “They did good”. What might that world look like, how will our current values translate into the future, and how do we get there?

Topics include:

  • How the climate changes – hopefully putting the signal-to-noise model of climate change in it’s place. The world ain’t linear.
  • Some insights from research behind the IPCC chapter Foundations of Decision-making that I am currently working on (without divulging its contents). It’s a fascinating pot-pourri of different disciplines seeking a solid narrative.
  • Bulletins from the climate science-policy interface.
  • Exposing misinformation, misdirection and agnotogeny (the generation of ignorance) designed to divert our attention from risks in social-ecological systems.
  • Using scenarios to imagine the future. Turning the problem-based scientific scenario into a solution-based creative scenario. Wicked problems – with even wickeder solutions!

I kind of like the symbolism behind the b’ak’tun. The end of a long count, a celebration, the start of a new one. Let’s make this year a good one.

Written by Roger Jones

January 3, 2012 at 2:40 pm

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