Climate Adaptation

Lessons of the Little Ice Age

What can we learn from the climate disruptions of the previous millennium?

The Little Ice Age wasn’t actually an ice age, but it was a period of markedly colder temperatures that began in the 1200s and lasted into the mid-1800s, with the 1600s a particular low point. It was a time when London winter fairs were regularly held on the middle of a frozen Thames river, glaciers …

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Valentine’s Day and Climate Change

Global warming will change much of our everyday lives. Even Feb. 14.

How is climate change connected with Valentine’s Day?  In many ways, as it turns out. That’s an indication of the myriad ways in which climate is entangled with our lives.  Whether it’s roses and chocolate, or courtship, nothing will remain quite the same as global temperatures go up and up. What about climate change and …

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Congress Mandates Pentagon Climate Action

The GOP’s climate denial doesn’t extend to DOD.

Everyone says climate laws can never pass Congress.  But there’s a major exception. Each year since Trump took office, Congress has passed climate legislation as part of Defense Department spending. Trump has signed all of those laws.  In 2017, there was a congressional finding that climate change is a threat to national security.  In 2018, …

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A Continent on Fire Ignores Climate Change

Conditions in Australia keep getting worse. The government offers platitudes.

Australia is remarkably exposed to climate change and remarkably unwilling to do much about it. Conditions keep getting worse. Yet climate policy in Australia has been treading water or backpedalling for years, as I discussed in an earlier post. Let’s start with the temperature.  The Guardian reports that in the year up to July 2019, …

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Spotlight on San Antonio

The role of transparency in municipal climate plans

Last week, San Antonio’s City Council approved its first-ever Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. This Plan’s main benefit is its ability to track and measure GHG emissions, while also signaling to City agencies, other municipalities, and the state that it is committed to climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. This is a big win for a …

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Burning in the Heat

Wildfires were bad enough already. Climate change is making them worse.

Fires have been unusually severe lately. According to one scientist, “’[I]n the late 20th and early 21st century, with these hot droughts, fires are ripping now with a severity and ferocity that’s unprecedented,’ says Tom Swetnam. . . . A fire in the Jemez Mountains Swetnam studies burned 40,000 acres in 12 hours, a ‘horizontal …

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Spreading Like Wildfire

They don’t get as much attention as floods or earthquakes, but wildfires are deadly serious.

This is the first of a three-part series about wildfires. Massive wildfires are a growing problem, posing risks to people and the environment. Considering that my house is located only a few miles from the 1991 Oakland Hills fire, which killed 25 people, destroyed 2800 homes, and caused $1.8 billion in damage, this is an …

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Scenarios

http://mediaprocessor.websimages.com/width/306/crop/4,0,290x220/www.communitydreambuilders.org/Strategic-Planning.jpg

We live in an uncertain world. Scenario planning can help.

When Shell Oil produced a sophisticated scenario of the path to a carbon neutral world in 2070, a lot people took notice. Shell concluded that the “relevant transformations in the energy and natural systems require concurrent climate policy action and the deployment of disruptive new technologies at mass scale within government policy environments that strongly …

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Flood Safety, Infrastructure, and the Feds

Standards for levees, seawalls, and other infrastructure urgently need attention.

The federal government is responsible for responding to major floods and runs the federal flood insurance program.  It also has millions of dollars of its own infrastructure at risk from floods. Yet the government is failing to deal effectively with flood risks before the fact. Let’s begin with the levees that are the main defense …

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Maladaptation

It’s not just that we’re slow in achieving resilience. It’s that often we’re moving in the opposite direction.

Some economic models of climate change come out with low damages because they assume smooth and effective adaptation efforts. That never made much sense. There’s a lot of inertia in social systems, and planning major projects can take a long time. Some of what we’re seeing lately is worse than that, however. We’re seeing cases …

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