Climate Adaptation

Climate Politics and the Urban-Rural Split

How do we sell climate policies to huge swathes of Trump country?

The 2020 elections revealed America as bitterly divided as ever. The split between rural and urban voters is intensifying, with rural voters delivering massive support to Trump and down ticket Republicans.  Success in decarbonizing the economy will ultimately require the support of those voters.  Short of a miraculous turnaround in attitudes about climate change, how …

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The Year Ahead

Nine key developments to watch for on the environmental front.

2020 was a tumultuous year. Hopefully, 2021 will be balmier.  Widespread use of vaccines will hopefully tame the COVID-19 pandemic, and maybe the political world will settle down a bit too.  Here are nine key things to watch for in terms of environmental policy. The Georgia runoff elections. Currently, the Republicans look likely to control …

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The Global Convergence of Disaster Law and Climate Law

Two very distinct areas of international law are finding more and more in common.

International climate negotiations may seem to have little to do with the work of such international relief organizations as the Red Cross. On the national level, EPA and FEMA are two very different agencies that historically have had little connection.  The same has been true at the international level.  But disaster and climate authorities are …

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Is the Paris Agreement’s Ambitious 1.5°C within Striking Distance?

Climate Action Tracker projections

A new analysis highlights the dangerous seduction of long-term targets

A new briefing (and PDF) from Climate Action Tracker opens with, “The recent wave of net zero targets has put the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C within striking distance.” Big, if true. But is it? In the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, countries agreed to keep global warming within 2°C and to “pursu[e] efforts” to keep …

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Addressing Extreme Heat Risk with Insurance

New report assesses potential for innovative insurance solutions to support response and mitigation

This past summer, California suffered through a record heat wave with triple-digit temperatures throughout the state that helped spark the record-setting wildfires that left millions of acres burned, thousands of people displaced, dozens dead or missing, and millions breathing toxic air. But extreme heat is a climate killer in its own right, responsible for thousands …

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Engineering Biological Diversity

In a new paper, I introduce the international governance of synthetic biology, gene drives, and de-extinction for conservation.

In addition to climate change — the primary topic of my academic writing — biodiversity loss is the other major global environmental challenge. Like climate change, efforts over the last three decades keep failing to meet agreed-upon objectives. And like climate change, scientists and others are considering novel technologies that would intervene in natural systems …

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Guest Contributor Samantha Zurcher: The Current State of Wildfire Liability in California

Wildfire Grows Rapidly In California s Lake County. Bjorgialt; Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Wildfires Are Ravaging California. Can Electric Utilities Take the Heat?

In recent years, California has experienced its largest and deadliest wildfires in history, resulting in hundreds of fatalities and more than $50 billion in damage. The confluence of rising temperatures, less rainfall, and strong winds signal that the annual “wildfire season” is here to stay, and will continue to proliferate. Every year, thousands of Californians …

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How Climate Disruption May Undermine Climate Policy

The long-term harms from climate change over the next decades may undermine support for efforts to reduce emissions

Almost two straight months of wildfires and smoke in California are a tangible sign of the impacts of climate change on our lives and our world. This article from the New York Times a couple of weeks ago does a good job of laying out why the wildfires in California are only one example of …

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Guest Contributor Naomi Wheeler: States and Cities Should Prioritize Equity While Building Grid Resilience

Power grid masts

Learning from Grid Resilience Threats and Opportunities in California and New York

Electrical grids across the country face a complex series of overlapping threats to grid resilience in 2020. Wildfires and hurricanes have become the new normal as climate change intensifies the magnitude of extreme weather events. These destructive events create widespread systemic shocks for electrical grids already facing several underlying vulnerabilities. In a recent research report, …

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We’re Going to Need a Much Bigger FEMA

FEMA is built to handle one disaster at a time. That’s not going to work in the future.

“When troubles come, they comes not as single spies but as battalions.” That wisdom goes back to Shakespeare. Yet our disaster response system is keyed to handling single disasters, not clusters of major disasters.  That needs to change. This week is a good illustration.  We have fires in California that may set records.  We have …

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