Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Gifts for You!

If you’ve been thinking about getting a copy of Climate Savvy but the price was too high, you’ll be happy to hear that the nice folks at Island Press are offering it for a 20% discount. All you have to do is buy your copy, paper- or hardback, at their website ( and enter CAKE20 when you check out. The discount code is valid through January 31st!

Don’t forget you can still get a free pint of ice cream or frozen yogurt if you submit a case study to the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE, That offer has been extended until December 2011 thanks to the generosity of the friendly team at Stonyfield Organic.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Want fiscal responsibility? Adapt now!

Dear Adaptation Mavens,

I don’t mean to gloat, but I’m just thrilled with the recent election results in the United States and rejection of climate change legislation in Canada. At last we’re going to get some fiscal responsibility back into our lives, along with a much-needed dose or reality. No more of these climate change zombies screaming that “the sky is falling” and claiming that we have to spend heaps of money to prepare for something that isn’t even real. The liberal elite may have been willing to shell out billions of dollars for climate adaptation, but the conservatives know a load of bunk when they see it. Why are the two of you still writing this silly column when it’s clear that the liberal agenda is failing?

Having A Heck of A Holiday
Read more »

Monday, November 15, 2010

Adapting to Climate Change in the Sky Island Region

By Rachel M. Gregg

In September, Lara spent a few days in Tucson with the Sky Island Alliance, the Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative, and about 85 other interested groups (plus a great group of conveners!) at the Climate Change Adaptation in the Arid Southwest: A Workshop for Land and Resource Management. This was vibrant exchange of key information about the effects of climate change in the region presented by local experts (Louise Misztal, Gregg Garfin, Tom Swetnam, Julia Fonseca, Christina Vojta and Marcos Robles) on everything from participant perceptions to FIRE! to wildlife and human communities. This was the kick-off meeting to an ongoing process to build an Arizona Climate Change Network and develop ideas about how to include climate change in activities across the region from water management and wildlife corridor development to improved research and monitoring. This meeting was also used to inform the development of the U.S. Department of Interior’s Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative (commonly known as an LCC. In this region the process is being led by the Bureau of Reclamation, unlike other regions where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plays this role.

Read more about the Sky Island Alliance's adaptation project on CAKE!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Are you Climate Savvy?

Two members of the EcoAdapt team are proud to announce their new book, Climate Savvy: Adapting Conservation and Resource Management to a Changing World. Climate change experts Lara Hansen and Jennie Hoffman consider the implications of climate change for key management issues of our time—invasive species, corridors and connectivity, ecological restoration, pollution, and many others. How are our traditional approaches vulnerable to the effects of climate change? What steps can we take to improve the likelihood of successful outcomes?

Climate Savvy offers a wide-ranging exploration of how scientists, managers, and policymakers can use the challenge of climate change as an opportunity to build a more holistic and effective philosophy. Based on collaboration with a wide range of scientists, conservation leaders, and practitioners, the authors present general ideas as well as practical steps and strategies that can help cope with this new reality.

We hope you find it a useful resource!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Planning your Thanksgiving dinner?

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and we're busily planning our menus, especially the dessert portion! Fancy some ice cream with that apple or pumpkin pie? Then submit a case study on CAKE before December 1st and receive a free pint of Stonyfield ice cream or frozen yogurt! Remember to register first!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Planning for climate change to protect Florida's reefs

By Alex Score

We have been witnessing climate change impacts in Florida for over 30 years. The impacts of sea level rise into bays and estuaries, eroding shoreline and inundating aquifers is now very real. We are also beginning to understand the effects of ocean acidification, caused by the absorption of carbon dioxide into the ocean and making carbonate less available for organisms to build shells or skeletons, such as lobster, shrimp, and coral reefs. The ocean is also getting warmer leading to coral bleaching and diseases which can lead to coral death.

We are also experiencing coastal marine habitat degradation, overfishing, and impaired water quality including unknown impacts from the Deep Water Horizon oil spill and dispersant applications in the Gulf of Mexico. These stressors all compound upon one another challenging and risking Florida’s coastal and marine areas. This is especially true for the Florida reef system, which expands 350 miles from the Dry Tortugas, along the entire length of the Florida Keys and up the south Florida mainland off Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Martin counties. The services from this unique ecosystem generate 71,000 jobs and $6.3 billion in sales and income annually. The continued degradation and loss of the Florida reef system will irrevocably change the south Florida way of life. At some point, we need to ask ourselves if we are willing to do what it takes to sustain these services for the not so distant future.

To respond to these compounding climate change and habitat degradation threats, a group of managers, scientist, reef users, and environmental organizations worked together over the past two years to develop a plan to address climate change impacts to Florida’s coral reefs, The Climate Change Action Plan for the Florida Reef System 2010-2015 (Action Plan). This is the first plan of its kind in Florida that builds on the concept of “resilience” or the ability of corals to resist and tolerate negative impacts, and recover. The Action Plan is an innovative effort to help a region deal with the reality of climate change. We envision it as a catalyst to spur climate adaptation beyond the Florida Reef System—up the Florida peninsula and across the Caribbean.

The Action Plan involves local actions that need to be implemented across political, social, and jurisdictional boundaries that provide an insurance policy for the sustainability of these reef systems. It is designed to accomplish three main goals: 1) increasing reef resilience through active management, 2) enhancing resilience of reef-dependent communities and industries via outreach and adaptation planning, and 3) conducting targeted research. It includes 22 management actions, 10 social resilience and outreach actions, and 8 research priorities for the region, which, if implemented, are designed to increase the resilience of the Florida reef system throughout the five counties.

EcoAdapt coordinated this effort along with Florida Reef Resilience Program and The Nature Conservancy. The Action Plan will serve as the framework for climate change management, education, and research priorities for Florida's coral reefs. Its success will be determined by the successful implementation regionwide.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Association of Fish and Wildlife 100th Annual Meeting, September 2010

By Rachel M. Gregg

Last month EcoAdapt and CAKE staff attend the Association of Fish and Wildlife’s 100th Annual Meeting in Grand Rapids, MI. We joined over 600 fish and wildlife professionals including directors of many state fish and wildlife agencies and their counterparts in federal agencies.

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) represents the collective voice of state, provincial, and territorial agencies to all levels of government on key fish and wildlife issues. The Association also coordinates between state agencies on a variety of transboundary issues, represents the agencies on Capitol Hill, and provides technical support and training. The AFWA Annual Meeting serves primarily as a business meeting for the association members to meet and discuss priorities and cross-cutting issues for the coming year and challenges or concerns agencies are having at a state level.

Climate change and climate change adaptation were major topics of discussion at committee meetings. Overwhelmingly committee members expressed confusion over what qualified as an adaptation project and a need to see examples of adaptation projects. Luckily, we had the opportunity to speak to a variety of committees about CAKE. We received great feedback from our presentations and there was a big interest in using case studies on CAKE as training tools and for examples to aid staff in their own adaptation planning.

We look forward to engaging with the AFWA community and others in the future!

Musings on a plethora of adaptation workshops

By Jennie Hoffmann

Over the past three weeks, I’ve been to three workshops related to climate adaptation. One, focused on the Great Lakes, included participants from U.S., Canadian, and tribal governments as well as folks from environmental, academic, and industry groups. Organized by the National Wildlife Federation, the Great Lakes Commission, the Council of Great Lakes Industries, and the US EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), the workshop aimed to inform GLRI funding and action, identify needs across sectors for carrying out adaptation, and provide input to federal agencies on incorporating climate change into their work. The second was a Climate Camp-style workshop I was helping to lead at the annual Land Trust Rally ( Participants came from diverse land trusts, non-profits, and government agencies, and the focus was approaches to incorporating climate change into land acquisition, management, restoration, and policy. The last was a scenario planning training workshop for National Park Service employees run by the Global Business Network and the National Park Service Climate Change Response Program. Scenario planning can help managers and planners focus on making robust decisions in the face of uncertainty, and this workshop was one of several being held to help the Park Service adapt to climate change.
Although the settings, participants, and particular foci of the workshops were different, the similarities underlined some key realities. First, the very existence of these diverse workshops shows that more and more people understand the importance of adapting their work to climate change, regardless of how they feel about whether humans are contributing to it. Second, the fact that all three workshops involved some level of active participation and engagement by participants underlined the growing realization that the “loading dock” approach of dumping heaps of information on people and expecting them to sort it out simply doesn’t work. People need to be able to engage with material, question it, dig deeper to figure out its relevance to and implications for their own work.

Finally, discussions at each workshop brought home the reality that while there are some guidelines and standards that can be applied across the board there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution. The goals and context—ecological, cultural, climatic, regulatory, etc.—strongly influence what is needed and what will be effective. For me, this is what makes the case studies in CAKE so valuable. They help move us towards a set of good practices for adapting to climate change while illustrating the range of options, forming a menu of choices on which others can build.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Salt Lake City Tribune Article on CAKE and Lara's Response

Our October 2nd workshop at The Wildlife Society's Annual Conference in Snowbird, Utah was kindly covered in the Salt Lake City Tribune in an article entitled "Climate change solutions go digital." The reporter did a great job in summarizing our efforts with CAKE and our partners at Data Basin. Lara wanted to providing some clarifying remarks on a couple of quotes and sentiments attributed to her, which you can find here.

Thank you for the coverage!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September's CAKE Advice Column

The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf of Sea Level Rise

Dear Adaptation Mavens,
We have an office betting pool and are wagering on the best way to deal with sea level rise. Should we build sea walls or just move out of the way? There’s a lot riding on the right answer. We agreed that it would take decades of waiting to see the right answer for ourselves, so have agreed in the meantime to have you settle the debate.
Awaiting your reply,
Getting Anxious, Maybe Becoming a Little Eager for Reassurance

We’re not sure if we can settle your bet—the “right” answer to a question like this is dependent on your local situation--but we can tell you what people, organizations, and governments are doing and how they’ve decided what’s right for them.
Start by thinking about planning for sea level rise in terms of the fairy tale about the three little pigs….only different.

In this story we start with Pig One who made his house out of bricks This pig wants to be able to resist whatever climate change throws his way. He’s set up his strong barrier and when the big bad wolf of climate change says “Little pig, little pig let me in,” he says “Nope.” And he continues to say this until the big bad wolf becomes a category five storm surge and floods the inside of his fortress, at which point it’ll be hard to get all the water and damp out the fortress. However until then Pig One is sitting pretty. Well, kind of pretty. He’s dry and all but he doesn’t have any functional coastline that filters run-off from his fortress or provides habitat for the young fish he’ll want to eat some day. But as long as he can afford to desalinate and filter his water and stock up on Spam, it’s all good. Pig One is the kind of gambler who puts all his money on one horse or all his eggs in one basket. If it works out he wins big, but his chances of losing it all are much greater than if he had bet on multiple horses.

Home of Pig One (Photo courtesy of Lara Hansen)

Pig One has a sister, aptly named Pig Two, who lives down the road. She’s attempting to be resilient to climate change. She designed her house so that it can float on the floodwaters, and used relatively affordable materials so that she had enough savings to repair or rebuild as necessary. Like a willow in the wind she will go with the flow and return after the storm to something close to her original state. When the big bad wolf of climate change says “Little pig, little pig let me in,” she says “Give it your best shot.” And she continues to say this until the big bad wolf is the Greenland Ice Shelf collapsing and raising sea level 7 m. The pilings keeping her house in place aren’t that tall, so this overwhelms her ability to happily float through storms. In truth the 7 m of sea level rise won’t happen suddenly and Pig Two or her descendents will likely have moved inland well before it gets to this point, but the bottom line is that if sea level rise goes beyond a certain point, she’ll lose her house. Pig Two is the kind of gambler who hedges her bets and never bets it all.

Home of Pig Two (Photo from

These two pigs have another sibling whose name is Herbert. This pig is responsive to climate change. She made a tent out of non-petroleum-based waterproof fabric. She can move her tent to higher ground as storms and sea level rise threaten its well-being, and when the big bad wolf of climate change says “Little pig, little pig let me in,” she says “No can do, I don’t live there anymore.” Like a nomad, she goes to greener pastures when things start looking wet and deep where she’s been living.  Her tent is extremely affordable, so it’s easy to make another should the first be badly damaged or wear out. She can do this forever, or until she runs out of places to go, resources to get there, or the heart to do it. She also can’t see Pig One and Pig Two as often as she used to when they all lived on the same block. She loses some of her traditional pig family identity and Pigs One and Two don’t always know where to mail her birthday card. Herbert is the kind of gambler who knows when to hold ‘em but is also ready to fold ‘em, and she folds them a lot.
Home of Herbert (Image from Big Agnes)

OK, so this isn’t exactly what the little pigs did when you learned this story in kindergarten, but we are pretty sure the original story was mistranslated. The challenge with climate change, sea level rise included, is that the right answer at one time and/or place will not be the right answer at some other place or time. In fact you may very well need multiple right answers in a single location. For example San Francisco Bay Area organizations ( are consciously grappling with what combination of resistance, resilience and response will be employed across their region. Locations that house expensive and regionally important pieces of infrastructure, such as airports, will get sea walls or other protection. Other stretches of shoreline will not, because if you were to put hard barriers around the entire San Francisco Bay you would have a very dysfunctional hydrological system which is as unacceptable to the people of the region as inundation from sea level rise. In places with less infrastructure to protect, the focus is often on restoration of coastal form and function, such as Grasses in Classes in Baldwin County, AL (  In the Netherlands (find more at:  or there’s a shift from a historic approach based primarily on resistance to one that incorporates resilience and response as well. Humans will continue to explore options and evaluate societal acceptance of the pros and cons, costs and benefits, relative to their particular situation. You’ll have to do this in your own situation all well, and be prepared to change paths if what you are doing is not working either biologically, physically or socially.

Sorry to say you will have to return everyone’s bet because there is no clear winner on our watch. Alternatively you could send the money to the Mavens and we’ll put the funds to good use.

Adaptively yours,
The Adaptation Mavens

Monday, June 7, 2010

National Climate Adaptation Summit, May 2010

By Lara Hansen

A week ago in Washington, DC there was a two and a half day meeting convened to discuss ideas around national action (federal activities in particular) on climate change adaptation. It was exciting to see a gathering of over a hundred people who were serious about the need for action on adaptation. There were some great examples of on-the-ground work already underway, including representatives from Chicago, New York City, Keene (New Hampshire), and San Francisco, as well as industry, environmental organizations, and federal agencies. Participants seemed to get a lot out of sharing the lessons they’ve been learning and trading tips on what works and what’s hard. There was a good deal of discussion about the need for an adaptation case study clearinghouse, the need for a way to network adaptation practitioners and the need for good adaptation advice. Good thing CAKE is about to launch—see for more details—and the status of adaptation project is so far along! (Did you know we have over 115 case studies to date?)

The summit was about getting people’s ideas about what can be done to enable adaptation activity, especially from the federal level. Obviously the 100+ people who attended don’t know it all. So I encourage each of you to send thoughts and ideas to the folks who convened this.

To learn more about the summit visit:

Friday, June 4, 2010

CAKE Update

Hello all,

We're counting down the days to our official launch - July 4th! Please check out CAKE!

You can find us on Twitter or Facebook in the meantime.

-- Rachel

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

National Academy of Sciences Releases 3 Reports on America's Climate Choices

By Kirsten Feifel

Today, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released three reports on “America’s Climate Choices.” The NAS was commissioned by Congress in 2008 to develop policy relevant advice on how the United States should respond to the threats and potential impacts of climate change. The reports were produced by NAS panels on the magnitude of future climate change, adapting to the impacts of climate change, advancing the science of climate change, and informing effective decisions and actions related to climate change. In sum, approximately 90 experts from academia, government, nongovernmental organizations, and industry participated in America’s Climate Choices.  

Of particular interest to us at EcoAdapt is the 243 page report “Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change.” The report calls for a national adaptation strategy and program, supported by federal technical and scientific resources but predominately implemented at the state and local levels. Adaptation measures will generally be place-based and case specific; however, many of the required resources and information needs are ubiquitous. The report highlights the idea that effective adaptation is fundamentally a risk management strategy - an insurance policy against an uncertain future.  Initially, adaptation strategies that are low-cost with win-win outcomes and near-term benefits are likely the most desirable.

This report has made us even more excited about the CAKE (Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange) project! The NAS panel recommends that practitioners at all levels - federal, state, and local - begin collaborating to learn from each other and exchange adaptation ideas. CAKE provides the perfect venue for this collaboration; it will have case studies, a directory of practitioners, and offer resources to support climate change adaptation efforts. What the NAS recommends is what CAKE will provide; how timely!  Look for the official CAKE launch on July 4, 2010 -     

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Using a Precautionary Approach to Manage North Pacific Fisheries Under Uncertainty

By Rachel M. Gregg

There are many projects that target specific climate impacts like sea level rise, increased storm surges, and habitat loss. There are also projects that aim to limit or eliminate non-climate stressors, such as destructive fishing practices, overfishing, pollution, diseases, invasive species, and others. The cumulative effects of these stressors interact directly with climate change and will impair ecosystem resilience. For example, temperature, pH, and salinity all influence the toxicity of various chemicals and will all be affected by climate change; for example, increased water temperatures can influence photosynthesis rates of plants and metabolic rates of animals and decrease dissolved oxygen levels which may lead to hypoxic conditions. 

Examples of this strategy include reducing land-based pollution to limit coral bleaching, incorporating climate change scenarios into fisheries management to adjust for shifts in species’ ranges, and reducing activities that alter natural sediment fluxes to limit erosion. For instance, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council is authorized to manage fisheries within Alaska's state waters, including the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, and the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. The Council has adopted a precautionary approach to commercial fishing activities in the region and has established limits to minimize bycatch, seasonal restrictions, and gear requirements to diminish negative effects on mammals, birds, and habitat. The Council has also created protected areas to protect fragile habitats like deep sea corals.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Acidifying oceans: A Florida research project

By Rachel M. Gregg

There are very limited adaptation options for dealing with ocean acidification; one project from our inventory involves increasing scientific understanding of ocean chemistry to inform policy and management.

The FLaSH Ecosystem Project, based out of Florida's USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center,  builds upon earlier efforts to conduct benthic habitat mapping in Florida by including consideration of climate change impacts, especially ocean acidification, on living marine resources along the shelf. Scientists are studying ocean chemistry to better understand the impacts of higher levels of atmospheric CO2 on marine and coastal resources. They are examining baseline carbon and carbonate data and the process of biogenic calcification along the east and west shelves of Florida. Both shelves are located along a gradient of temperate and subtropical climates. Scientists are examining the distribution changes between benthic assemblages in temperate and subtropical zones to find evidence of ocean acidification effects on calcifying organisms. In addition, researchers are using satellite data to provide a view of how the Florida shelf is responding to environmental change over time. Results of this project will inform policy and science decisions on potential remediation efforts to protect living marine resources along Florida’s shelf. Partners include the University of South Florida College of Marine Science, NOAA, Eckerd College, Clean Beaches Council, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. For more information, check out

Monday, April 12, 2010

Maryland Greenprints

By Kirsten Feifel

Adapting to climate change requires innovative tools and new perspectives on existing policies; a lot of groups are working to update their conservation strategies and priorities in order to reduce a system’s vulnerability to climate change. One of our interviewees was a representative from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) who described how they are updating their Greenprints mapping tool ( to include the effects of climate change.

Maryland uses Greenprints to overlay different types of information (i.e. land use/type, zoning, etc.) in GIS to help guide future land acquisition decisions and strategies. DNR is developing new criteria to evaluate and target lands suitable for on-the-ground climate change adaptation. In 2009, DNR hosted a workshop that brought together experts in coastal land conservation to identify data sources supportive of landscape resilience and adaptation. They are in the process of refining workshop recommendations to establish systematic criteria to highlight lands that offer long-term adaptation to climate change and lands that will be acutely vulnerable to climate change.

The full case study for the Maryland Greenprints effort will be available on the CAKE website – check it out when CAKE launches in July! Their ideas and techniques could be transferred to a lot of regions interested in adapting to climate change.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Paper or Plastic?

Re-posted from our sister CAKE blog:

Dear Adaptation Mavens,

I have finally come to accept that climate change is altering the bog in which I work, but I have no idea what to do about it.  Some people I know are telling me to start measuring how much carbon my bog sequesters and selling offsets to raise money for my work. Others say I should focus on connecting my bog to other bogs at higher latitudes since the ranges of all the species in my bog are certain to shift towards the pole as climate change progresses, but the closest bog is hundreds of miles away! This bog is the only place I’ve ever lived, and I love it more than anything in the world, but it sounds like it may disappear altogether.  I waiver between despair and panic and still don’t know what to do.
Please help!

Nick the Muddled Bog Lemming

Dear NiMBLe,

All too often people respond to climate change as though confronted with a paralyzing decision between two unsatisfying options: should you ignore climate change so as to avoid being thrown into depression, or accept that the world is doomed and abandon hope? This is like a bad remake of the perennial grocery store question. Should you choose a paper bag to help you slow your panicked hyperventilation, or a plastic bag to simply end it all? Neither provides a desirable outcome. The paper bag only provides temporary solace and the plastic bag…well, you won’t suffer further, unless you end up in the fiery pains of hell, but the outcome is generally counter-indicated for long-term success in life.

We are happy to report that just as there are other bag options (Bring your own! Re-use old bags! Stuff your purchases in your pockets!), all is not lost when it comes to climate change. There are productive ways to move forward, and you don’t have to be a wealthy or a super-genius to figure them out. Allow us to introduce a field broadly called “adaptation,” (also known by myriad other names including climate preparedness, resilience-building, resistance-building, climate-aware planning, climate smartification and climate savviness). Whatever you call it, the goal is to include the reality of climate change in everything from your long-term planning to everyday decisions. This might seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be. It can start with a few simple steps.

First, focus on your goal or objectives. What is it that you are aiming to do? You’d be amazed how often people work themselves into a tizzy about things that have nothing to do with their primary goal. If your current goal isn’t to solve all the problems related to climate change, there’s no reason to focus at that broad scale. And repackaging your work in an effort to say you’re doing something about climate change, or to try to make more money doesn’t do anything to protect your real goal from climate change—it may even make it more vulnerable!  From your letter it sounds like you want to protect your beloved bog so that you and its other inhabitants can continue to enjoy your moist and mucky paradise and everything it provides—cranberries, natural water purification services, and the best peat this side of Texas. Great! Keep focusing on that.

OK, you’ve got you goal clearly in your mind? Now determine what the vulnerabilities of this goal are to climate change. How is climate change likely to affect it? Start with what you already know about the current climate where you are and how that affects the bog. Then think about what sorts of climatic changes are likely and how your bog and its inhabitants might respond. What’s the local hydrology--is your bog springfed or rainfed? Will precipitation patterns change? Will there be more or stronger droughts that make the bog dry out? More or stronger rainstorms that flood the bog? Is there competition for the groundwater so it could be overdrawn by other users if precipitation and recharge decrease? Is your region warming? Most are. (No, we are not clairvoyant, that’s why they call it global warming.) This can cause more evaporation and evapotranspiration (a big word meaning moisture loss from plants and the soil around them) which further reduces water levels. Once you exhaust your own knowledge, or even before, go talk to some local experts. In many regions there are groups that provide support with or access to climate data, like the NOAA Regionally Integrated Sciences and Assessments (known as the RISAs, programs located in most regions of the United States, the new NOAA Climate Service (, the Canadian Climate Change Scenarios Network (, or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Data Distribution Center ( Better yet, find local climate change scientists and make new friends. Take them out for coffee, get them engaged in your quandary, and show them how great your bog is. See if they’ll partner with you to explore the vulnerability of your system. Keep in mind, though, this is not just about the physical and biological science. Part of how climate change affects things depends on human responses to climate change and its effects, and on how your particular ecosystem functions. You may well know more about these elements than many outside experts. Remember: many aspects of climate change are rife with the same type of uncertainty, variability and surprises that human responses harbor.

So now you may be sliding past the paper bag and reaching for the plastic bag, thinking that we’ve asked a lot of questions and it all sounds very complex. DON’T DO IT! Hang on through the next step. You CAN do this, and once you start you’ll see that it’s not as intimidating as it may sound.

Lay out all of these vulnerabilities, or maybe just start with a few, and think of them as opportunities for creative thinking. See they aren’t so scary. It’s not Climageddon, it’s just a challenge, and you’ve certainly faced many big challenges before—pollution, runaway development, and who knows what else. Climate change is part of our world now, so don’t pretend it isn’t there. Putting your head in the paper bag will not make it go away.

For each of the challenges you’ve identified, brainstorm actions you can take to address them that fit well with your overall goals. Actions can focus on education, management, regulation….anything, really. This is the exciting part. Think creatively. Think crazy. You can evaluate later, now you should explore options including those outside your normal realm of thinking because this challenge is that big. In Switzerland they’re considering covering glaciers in plastic to slow their melting at ski resorts. In Australia they’re putting shade cloth over coral reefs. That may sound crazy but so does global warming when you think about it….we burn fossilized plant matter to make electricity and billions of tons of carbon dioxide and other gases released from these dead plants is building up in the atmosphere creating a blanket that’s heating things up at an amazing rate. Go wild with your new ideas. These are wild times.

Now here’s the tricky part. You actually have to start doing some of these new things. You can’t just talk about them. Look at the situation with renewable energy sources: despite decades or even centuries of demonstrated effectiveness and widespread attention by policy-makers since at least the oil crisis in the 1970s we are still relying mostly on fossil fuels. Clearly the best laid plans so oft go astray when we don’t bother to implement them.

Speaking of plans going astray, it’s a good idea to monitor your exciting new efforts to see if they are doing any good. If they are working, let others know about it. If they are not working, let others know what didn’t work and modify your course of action to try other options that might be more successful.

We know what you are going to say “Oh but this takes so much time!” While we could just shake our finger and say “A stitch in time saves nine,” instead we’ll offer a couple of short cuts. Starting this summer, the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE) can get you tools and information, help you hook up with others doing similar work, and provide a platform to share information and learn from others. It’ll be your online adaptation destination! So set up an account and get ready for CAKE to go live. In the meantime get started. We’ve no time to waste! Grab a reusable cloth bag and get to work.

All our best,
The Adaptation Mavens (Lara Hansen & Jennie Hoffman)

Friday, March 19, 2010

CGBD Meeting and CAKE update

Lara Hansen is just back from the Consultative Group on Biological Diversity marine funders meeting in New Orleans where she presented a preview of CAKE.

Attendees got a glimpse of the layout, design, and functionality that we're working on, including a preview of four case studies: Halifax Climate SMART, the Florida Reef Resilience Program, the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge/Albemarle Peninsula Project, and the Louisiana local Terrebonne Parish Coastal Restoration Plan. Special thanks to Richard MacLellan (Halifax Regional Municipality), Jon Porthouse (Halcrow), and Robert Brumbaugh (The Nature Conservancy) for presenting!  

As we get closer to the public launch of CAKE, we will be hosting tutorials and running outreach events and workshops to feature some of our case studies. We will provide updates here.

If you'd like to provide us with a case study, please fill out our survey and pass the link onto your colleagues!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Adaptation ideas from architects?

By Kirsten Feifel

Sea level rise is one impact of climate change that people seem to be acutely wary of; it has been making headlines in newspapers and is something that repeatedly comes up in interviews with professionals working to adapt to climate change. Just this week we ran across an article in the New York Times highlighting the work of five architectural visions of an "apocalyptically soggy future" for New York and ways to adapt to rising sea levels. These plans are slated to be an art exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) titled “Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront” opening March 24, 2010. 

While some of their ideas may seem a little peculiar (for example, installing massive oyster reefs and sponge-like streets to reduce the effects of storm surges or building water channels inside New York à la Venice), a lot of the architects’ answers for downtown New York align with some of the responses and ideas we are getting from our adaptation case studies. Land managers in Maryland and North Carolina are developing ways to enhance coastal wetland buffers, similar to the "sponge-like streets"; New Jersey is considering rezoning vulnerable areas to reduce damage to infrastructure; and lots of land managers in estuaries are recognizing the benefits of "living shorelines," like oyster beds, to provide resilience to storm surges. In reality, the MoMa art exhibit depicting a soggy future for New York City may not be to far off base when it comes to adaptation strategies for sea level rise. What is being displayed as art today may indeed transform into some sort of reality in the future.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Update on outreach events!

Just wanted to provide you with an update on conferences in which we are presenting in upcoming months:
  • June 13-16
    • A workshop at The Coastal Society conference in Wilmington, North Carolina
  • July 3-7
    • A workshop and a symposium presentation of 7 case studies from our marine and coastal inventory at the Society for Conservation Biology conference in Edmonton, Canada
  • October 2-6
    • A workshop and panel of 4 case studies at The Wildlife Society conference in Snowbird, Utah
Hope to see you there!


Monday, February 15, 2010


By Rachel M. Gregg

Greetings and welcome to our first posting!

Climate change is now widely acknowledged as a global problem. Adaptation and mitigation are the two responses commonly taken to address actual and projected climate change impacts. Because the benefits of mitigation efforts may not be seen immediately, adaptation action has been encouraged by many, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). EcoAdapt’s mission is to build the field of adaptation by coordinating, magnifying, and making climate change adaptation capacity and resources more accessible to conservation and management professionals.

One of our major projects investigates different adaptation efforts in North America. We are conducting interviews and surveying people and groups who work in marine and coastal environments throughout the continent to determine what is being done and how. There are two major components to this project. One is to create a synthesis report of all of the different adaptation projects we discover; the second is to build an online Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE) with our partners at Island Press to house the information we collect, provide case studies of projects and people, and link interested parties to the best available information on climate change adaptation. CAKE will help connect people engaged and/or interested in adaptation to communicate, share ideas, and collaborate with like-minded peers, and participate in a broader adaptation network.

EcoAdapt Tour 2009 - Where We've Been and Where We're Going
If our project sounds familiar, it might be because you've interacted with one of our team members, caught a presentation, or seen a poster or brochure at a meeting or conference this past summer. We've been all over both coasts of the United States (see list below) and we're planning on attending or creating more meetings and conferences in other U.S. states, as well as expanding our outreach efforts to our Canadian and Mexican neighbors.

Past EcoAdapt Appearances:
  • Climate Change and Adaptation Options for Cetaceans and Other Marine Biodiversity of the Eastern Pacific (Santo Domingo de Heredia, Costa Rica)
  • Adaptation 2009: Safeguarding Fish, Wildlife and Natural Systems in the Face of Climate Change
  • George Wright Society Biennial Conference: Rethinking Protected Areas in a Changing World
  • Conservation International Workshop, Recipes for Adaptation: Marine Management under Climate Change and Ocean Acidification (Arlington, Virginia)
  • International Marine Conservation Congress, Developing Practical and Innovative Strategies for Marine Climate Change Impacts Assessment and Management (Fairfax, Virginia)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Workshop, The Plight of Ecosystems in a Changing Climate: Impacts on Services, Interactions, and Responses (Seattle, Washington)
  • Oregon Shores Conference, Coastal Climate Action (Newport, Oregon)
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Wildlife Federation Second Meeting of the Workgroup on Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments (Arlington, Virginia)
  • Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Conservation Boot Camp (La Jolla, California)
  • Coastal Zone 2009, Revolutionary Times: Catching the Wave of Change (Boston, Massachusetts)
  • Wilburforce Alaska Climate Change Workshops (Juneau and Anchorage, Alaska)
  • Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee Meeting
  • Ecological Society of America Meeting (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
  • Land Trust Alliance Rally (Portland, Oregon)
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Refuges Town Hall Meeting (Okefenokee, Georgia)
  • Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation's conference (Portland, Oregon)
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/National Wildlife Federation Webinar: "Adapting Conservation and Management to Climate Change: An Overview"

Results so far....

The most rewarding aspect of this project so far is that it has generated a significant amount of interest from a variety of groups and individuals, which seems to reflect the level of interest about climate change adaptation in general. From the contacts that we have made, we have generated a lot of interest in our organization, climate change, adaptation projects, and the project. It has also been interesting as we talk with interviewees to learn that there is a great deal of confusion about what adaptation really is. In many cases, interviewees have either identified their traditional work as adaptation, confused mitigation and adaptation, or dismissed their projects as not being adaptation. There is clearly a great lack of clarity in the area of adaptation for most conservation practitioners.

Time line
We are busily engaged in interviews and sending surveys out to potential participants. We're aiming for a Summer 2010 parallel release of the synthesis report and launch of CAKE.

EcoAdapt Wants You!

1. Contribute information

We will be collecting details on current, ongoing, and proposed adaptation projects in North America by conducting interviews and surveys. We invite you to share this information by contacting us to schedule an interview at or by filling out and/or forwarding on the following
survey to your organization's climate change contact. The survey should take no longer than 10-15 minutes. By participating in this process, you will provide critical input that will be extremely helpful in determining the status of climate change adaptation work in North America.

2. Participate in the network
In developing a network of individuals and groups interested and engaged in adaptation, we will create CAKE, which will provide a georeferenced database, advice columns, bulletin boards, and more to encourage partnerships and knowledge sharing. If you are interested in contributing or participating, please either visit our online survey or contact us at

3. Follow our progress right here!
We will update our progress regularly on this site.