Thursday, December 19, 2013

Adaptation Mavens' Column: City Slicker with Rural Roots

Dear Mavens,

This being the holiday season, I’ve been thinking about family. Although I’m now an over-educated city-dweller, I grew up in a small farming community in the Midwest. Life is so hard for so many of the folks I grew up with, and climate change is making everything even worse. I want to suggest they start some community adaptation planning to make their livelihoods a bit less marginal, but I’m worried they’d just give me that “you’ve been in the big city too long” look and ignore me. Don’t know if you heard that “This American Life” episode where they talked with the Colorado State Climatologist, but it reminded me a lot of where I’m from. What can I do?

Seems like so many of the adaptation efforts I hear about involve lots of science or groups of academics sitting around thinking big thoughts, but I know this wouldn’t fly in my hometown. The folks I grew up with have a deep distrust of outsiders, so all the IPCC reports in the world will never have the weight of Bob Smith’s opinion based on what he’s seen in his 87 years, and what he heard from his daddy and grand-daddy before him. And to be fair, the knowledge these guys (and gals!) have based on several generations of making a living off the land is truly impressive! When it comes to local weather and climate patterns, even I would trust them more than some climate modeler who doesn’t even know how farming works.

So have you got any examples of adaptation work in small communities where the communities themselves are actually driving the process?


City Slicker with Rural Roots

Read the Mavens' response here!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Adaptation ABCs: R is for Resistance, Resilience, and Response

is for Resistance, Resilience, and Response!
Resistance, Resilience, and Response! R might be the most useful letter of the adaptation alphabet. A combination of these three types of responses will probably go a long way in reducing your vulnerability to climate change. Get out a piece of chalk and list the resistance, resilience and response strategies for your adaptation action plan.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Adaptation ABCs: Q is for Quagmire

is for Quagmire
No, not the ones created by intractable wars. But the quagmire that is our inability to do anything about climate change (adaptation or mitigation) on the big scale. We need to escape the quagmire of our doubts, fears and indifference and start take real action today. Do some intentional adaptation thinking today.

Adaptation ABCs: P is for Philosophy

is for Philosophy

Adaptation is not a rote process. It doesn’t have a recipe book or a detailed flowchart. Rather, good adaptation is a way of thinking and doing that you apply intentionally to all of your work. It's continuing to ask yourself how climate change will affect your ability to meet your goals every step of the way to them, then integrating what you learn and observe into your assessment and actions.

Adaptation ABCs: O is for Opportunity

is for Opportunity
Climate change often seems like a bummer. And while the downsides to climate change don’t go away, it doesn’t mean you can't be on the lookout for the opportunities it may also present to fix bad past planning and management decisions. For example, is bad coastal zoning making your community vulnerable? Use the risks of climate change and extreme events to reopen long-closed conversations about how to improve all subsequent planning decisions.

Adaptation ABCs: N is for the National Adaptation Forum

is for the National Adaptation Forum!
The party that was the National Adaptation Forum was simply amazing and exceeded all of our goals. With over 500 registered attendees and a wait list - it's fair to say that it was hot, it was hip, and we hope you are able to attend the next forum in 2015. Stay tuned, we will be sending out updates as information is made available - and if you were there - thank you for helping make this convening of adaptation minded advocates a huge success!

Adaptation ABCs: M is for Maladaptation

is for Maladaptation

Ever wonder what happens if the people who plan for coastlines from the inland side and those who plan from the seaward side each create their own sea level response plan and don't compare notes? If farmers and fisheries managers each develop their own strategy to deal with increasing drought and don't do some full water use accounting together? The answer is that you get maladaptation! Seawalls and inland migration of coastline are mutually exclusive. Simultaneously engaging in extensive irrigation and maintaining adequate river flow for fish can be impossible if total water supply decreases. Maladaptation can also happen when we ignore the long-term view: relying on air-conditioned cooling centers as a public health measure during heat waves may be OK every now and then, but as the globe continues to heat up this approach becomes increasingly expensive and vulnerable to fluctuations in power supply. Designing houses based on current flood risk may put people in harm's way and leave individuals, organizations, or municipalities liable for massive rebuilding costs. Avoiding maladaptation requires that we think about the longer term and make sure to coordinate with those with whom our actions interact.   

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Climate Change, Pollution, Habitat Degradation... What’s a Bird or a Wetland to Do?

By Rachel M. Gregg

Earlier this year, the National Climate Assessment shared its initial conclusions with the world. A number of technical reports informed those facts and are now emerging in the literature.  EcoAdapt's own Lara Hansen co-authored two of these new articles!

Preparing for and Managing Change: Climate Adaptation for Biodiversity and Ecosystems emphasizes the strides made in the conservation world with respect to managing for change rather than maintaining the status quo and provides a framework through which to view adaptation as an ongoing process rather than a fixed endpoint.

The Added Complications of Climate Change: Understanding and Managing Biodiversity and Ecosystems addresses the exacerbating factors of environmental stressors that cause ecosystem degradation and how the interactions between these stressors and climate change will complicate natural resource management.

It might be more than you can bear to think about, but climate change is not a lone agent of change! Fortunately, there are clever and engaged scientists and practitioners paying attention to these intricacies. Stay tuned for more information!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Register Now for the Adaptation in the Private Sector/ND-GAIN Webinar on November 14th!

Join us on November 14th at 10 AM PT for:

Adaptation in the Private Sector-Uncovering Risks & Opportunities in the Global Marketplace with the ND-Global Adaptation Index

The ND-Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN; is the world’s leading index showing which countries are best prepared to deal with global changes brought about by overcrowding, resource constraints, and climate disruption. The Index, which is free and open sourced, aims to unlock global adaptation solutions in the corporate and development community that save lives and improve livelihoods while strengthening market positions. The Index moved to the University of Notre Dame in April 2013. It was formerly housed in the Global Adaptation Institute in Washington, D.C.

ND-GAIN ranks countries annually based on how vulnerable they are to droughts, super-storms and other natural disasters and, uniquely, how ready they are to adapt. Decision-makers use ND-GAIN’s country-level rankings to determine how vulnerable countries are to climate change and how ready they are to adapt, thus informing strategic operational and reputational decisions regarding supply chains, capital projects, and community engagements.  

Dr. Jessica Hellmann is ND-GAIN’s research director, and Joyce Coffee, is ND-GAIN’s managing director.

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

Thursday, October 31, 2013

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Seeks Comments on Draft Workbook for Developing Adaptation Plans

By Rachel M. Gregg

A public draft of Being Prepared for Climate Change: A Workbook for Developing Risk-Based Adaptation Plans is available for public involvement and peer input. Feedback will be used to "inform revisions to the draft product so that the final work product will reflect sound technical information and analyses."  

This workbook was developed as part of a response to several calls for strategic planning for climate change, including:
The workbook aims to provide needed guidance on conducting watershed-scale vulnerability assessments, using decision-support tools, planning and implementing adaptation strategies, and building the capacity of local managers.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Some Climate Treats for Your Halloween Sacks!

EcoAdapt and CAKE have partnered with the EBM Tools Network and their partners to co-sponsor several webinars on climate change tools relevant to coastal and marine management!


These webinars include:

Sign up and make sure to add them to your calendars! 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Call for Participation: EBM Tools Network/Open Channels Survey of Tools and Resources for Addressing Climate Change Impacts on Marine Ecosystems

There is a severe lack of information on which tools and resources have actually been used for addressing current and potential climate change impacts on marine ecosystems and which of these tools and resources have proven most helpful/effective. The EBM Tools Network, in collaboration with, is working to address this information gap by conducting a short survey of tools and resources that are being used or have been used for developing or implementing actions to address current and potential climate change impacts on marine ecosystems. Please participate in this survey if you have been, or are currently involved in, developing or implementing actions to address current and potential climate change impacts on marine ecosystems. The survey should take between 15 and 30 minutes depending on the number of tools and resources about which you provide information. Please respond by October 31, 2013.

They are interested in information about a broad range of “tools and resources” including written guides, models, protocols, replicable methodologies, computer software, apps, databases, and other types of useful resources for conducting marine climate change adaptation work.

The information gathered in this survey will form a resource base that will be shared with the broader marine community and will be extremely valuable to others getting started in marine climate adaptation work. A summary of the results will be published on and advertised through the EBM Tools Network mailing list. The results will also be used to inform the work of select projects such as the Reefs Tomorrow Initiative.

Please contact Sarah Carr at if you have any questions about the survey.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Recommended Article on the Recent IPCC Report "Critiques"

We've read a couple of the attempts to debunk the latest IPCC Climate Assessment, among them the claim that if you're a climate scientist looking for changes in the climate, you are bound to find those changes (we'd give the link but we don't want to drive any more traffic to this paper's site). These types of "critiques" drove Richard Matthews to write "Debunking Efforts to Undermine the IPCC’s Latest Climate Report." Definitely worth a read!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A decade of adaptation goodness (and a contest!)

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the release of Buying Time: A User’s Manual to Building Resistance and Resilience to Climate Change in Natural Systems. A first-of-its-kind resource for the adaptation-inclined, it offers tips focused on natural systems but applicable to adaptation of any type. It continues to be widely cited despite the wave of new publications that have followed. Clearly a modern classic!

In honor of the 10th Anniversary, we’ve opened the archive and are offering 3 original bound copies, plus 25 CD copies (a collector's item just for the format!). Yes, these are the same as those distributed at the World Parks Congress in Durban, South Africa in 2003! Nelson Mandela was in town for the event (the Congress, not the book release). For your chance to get a copy, here’s all you need to do:

1.     Visit the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange, then
2.     Log in to your account (If you are not a registered user, become one!) then
3.     Complete your profile to include your bio and photo!
Send an email to when you’ve completed this set of tasks and winners will be selected at random once 28 entries have been received. Winners are limited to entries from the United States and Canada owing to the cost of postage.

If you want something more up to date as well, check out Climate Savvy, the 2010 follow up publication.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Update: U.S. Coastal Climate Change Planning Legislation (H.R. 764)

In a previous blog post, we alerted you to legislation that was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives for the 112th Congress. The bill was added to the 113th Congress (2013-2014)'s agenda earlier this year. The Coastal State Climate Change Planning Act (H.R. 764) was introduced by Rep. Lois Capps (CA). The bill would amend the Coastal Zone Management Act to create a grant program to support the development of adaptation plans and projects by coastal states. The bill was referred to the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs. John Fleming is the Subcommittee's Chairman.

Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen/U.S. Air Force/New Jersey National Guard

The bill's cosponsors include:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Check out the Adaptation Mavens' Summer Reading List!

Summer is here (for those of us in the northern hemisphere[1]), and the Mavens' advice is that you settle in with a cool beverage and a good read. If you don’t know what to read, you might enjoy some of these:

Do long days at the shore have you worry more than usual about sea level rise? Well, you might want to read Runting et al.'s Does more mean less? The value of information for conservation planning under sea level rise. We love this paper because it shows how to make an informed decision about whether it’s worth doing any of that fancy modeling stuff before making a decision. Not surprisingly, the answer depends on the decision you’re making and the data and resources available. But it WAS surprising how much of your budget it can be worth investing in models if the conditions are right.

If you’re still thinking about last month’s advice column and our talk about the meaning of throwing the ball in baseball, then you might enjoy a deeper dive into such thinking with Vogel et al.'s Linking vulnerability, adaptation and resilience science to practice: Players, pathways and partnerships. The paper behind a big aha moment, namely that if you’re a scientist interested in science that gets used, it’s often more effective to ask potential users what they do, not what they need to know. Asking “what you need to know” often takes people into a strategic frame of thinking that may or may not be related to the actual decisions or decision processes that they have to engage in for their work.

If the lazy days of summer have you thinking slowly and stymied by what to do with your day, let alone what to do about climate change, then you might find assistance in Hammond et al.'s Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions. 

People sometimes complain that there’s more adaptation talk than action. In part, this is because taking action means making a decision, and making decisions can be hard for all kinds of reasons. This delightful book shows how to combine analysis and deliberation to make better decisions, and provides a framework for documenting your thought process. The authors are leaders in the field, but the book is a quick and easy, yet informative read. If you want a more academic and conservation-oriented but still excellent decision making book, check out Gregory et al.'s Structured Decision Making: A Practical Guide to Environmental Management Choices.

Photo Credit: Ed BrownThe White House did you a public service and put out some summer adaptation reading. If you’re interested in learning about the adaptation ambitions of the federal government, check out the middle section of the President’s Climate Action Plan called “Prepare the United States for the Impact of Climate Change.” A nice companion reference is an EcoAdapt and partners report commissioned by the MacArthur Foundation to assess the State of Adaptation in the United States

Photo Credit: Travisleehardin via Wikimedia CommonsWe know that you don’t always have time to read a book, presidential decree or article, so while away a little time with a case study! We suggest one of our all-time favorites because it discusses an action that we’re hoping will start a trend to incorporate climate change into water quality decision-making everywhere. So if you’re down by the lake (or river or seashore), check out Incorporating Climate Change into TMDL Decisions for Lake Champlain. A great example of someone saying “hey, shouldn’t you be considering climate change in this decision?”

But summer isn’t all adaptation all the time. What do we read when we’re not reading about adaptation? In addition to various trashy novels we prefer not to name, we’re reading a few things we can talk about. A great book called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. It’s a fascinating story on many levels—great scientific breakthroughs, race identity and race relations, the long fight for protections for human research subjects in the United States (hint: it wasn’t until almost 1970 that U.S. courts suggested the Nuremberg Code of ethics should apply to scientific research in the United States), and the gap between what’s obvious to specialists vs. the general public. Another great book in our beach bag this summer is Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome. Yep, it’s children’s literature but Ransome was a literary genius who wrote 12 books in a series known as Swallows and Amazons. They are fantastic adventures that have kids out of the house and sailing across lakes…even in the winter. This cold weather volume could be your respite from the summer heat.
Winter Holiday
We’re also reading Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver’s tale of the manifestations of climate change. If you want to read about how to be part of the solution rather than dwelling on the problem, consider her previous offering Animal, Vegetable, Miracle—the book that got the Mavens consolidated in the Pacific Northwest, where summer means ample berries and long, long days.

Remember while you’re outside reading to use plenty of sunscreen, sport a floppy hat and wear some UV protective eyewear. We’ll see you back at work in the Fall!

Adaptively yours,
The Mavens

[1] For those of you in the southern hemisphere, consider this a winter holiday reading list. It’ll be just as fun.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Breaking Great Lakes News: Higher temps increase evaporation!

By Lara Hansen

Breaking Great Lakes News: Higher temps increase evaporation! 
Laws of physics upheld.

See EcoAdapt's State of Climate Change Adaptation in the Great Lakes Region report to see what people are doing about it!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Happy birthday to the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange!

It's CAKE's birthday! We turn 3 on July 4th!

We've had three extremely exciting and successful years! Check out a few of our milestones: 
  • Packed full of adaptation goodness! Over 1000 resources in the library, 320 case studies of on-the-ground projects, over 45 tools, and more than 500 opportunities and 400 events posted to the Community! Thank you for your contributions!
  • Depended on and used by adaptation practitioners around the globe! Over 250 sites link to CAKE including the EPA's Climate Ready Estuaries program, World Bank, National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, USAID, and many more!
  • CAKE is a connected community of the best in the field! The community has grown to over 2,000 registered users and more than 100,000 unique visitors from over 190 countries since launch!
  • We've delivered 35 Slices of CAKE, our monthly newsletter, bringing CAKE's freshest content right to your inbox! 
  • And just in time for the party, we've updated the homepage! This allows us to more easily showcase new resources and feature popular content just for you! 
Don't know what to get CAKE for its birthday? Help CAKE's wishes come true, just like CAKE works to make all your adaptation wishes come true!

CAKE needs to continue growing and improving to meet your developing needs! We've listened to your feedback and are working hard to make your CAKE ideas a reality. 

Birthday wishes for CAKE sadly don't grow on trees. (That's right, CAKE can't eat fruit, collect pine cones, or read love notes on parchment.) CAKE is modern technology and needs your support to make a webinar series (and other improvements) happen.

If you have found CAKE useful and want to make it even better, please pitch in to help that happen! Click to learn about the improvements we are hoping to make in response to your requests. We hope you'll consider making CAKE's birthday wishes come true!

Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

EcoAdapt's Dr. Lara Hansen on Obama's Climate Speech: "Real change and a better tomorrow can happen 'if we don’t fear the future, instead we seize it.'”

It is not without some historical interest that the same day the Supreme Court strikes down some provisions of the Voting Rights Act (a change in American law and culture that required great political will and action by the people to bring to pass) that President Obama attempts to exert political will in response to the people demanding some action be taken in order to address a new change to better America—slowing the rate and extent of climate change, and helping our nation deal with the effects of climate change that are already underway.

There will be much talk about the mitigation side actions—those things that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But there will likely be less talk (based on the content of the articles written in the run up to today’s speech) about the adaptation side actions—those things that help reduce the adverse effects of the changes that are already taking place and are committed to take place due to the amount of greenhouse gas already in the atmosphere from the combustion of fossil fuels, generation of cement and land use change that humans have been undertaking for well over 100 years.

There were two big actions highlighted by President Obama today under the heading of “preparing” for or “protecting from” climate change. While “preparing” is a nice word, I’m not sure it’s the right word anymore. The recent uptick in dramatic storms that cost billions to insurance (public and private) and individuals, the growing threat of sea level rise in most of our coastal communities, the loss of sea ice that is displacing native Alaskan communities as unprecedented coastal erosion undermines their homes, the persistent droughts in the south and west parts of the country, the increasing regularity of 100 year floods in the Midwest, infestations by insects historically kept at bay by cold winters causing loss of forests and food crops…we are no longer preparing, we are responding. “Protecting” as you can see also has some failings unless we plan to build endless fortresses across the landscape.

But I digress, the sentiment is spot on. We are looked into a variety of changes that are already afoot and we need to be making better decisions so that we are not wasting money, effort and time on vulnerable planning and management. This includes not only building cities that are not so easily inundated but it also requires landscape-level planning to improve the odds for natural resources and the services they provide that decrease the vulnerability of human communities through things like flood control and water supply delivery.

The Administration seems to have offered two areas of support. One is to give people the information (or data) that will help them make better decisions. Much of this information has been available for quite sometime, albeit very hard to find. But the bigger hurdle is people either don’t know it exists or don’t know what to do with it. I recently stumbled upon a useful analogy about this while coaching little league. There is a wealth of robust and useful information being created by scientists, and they keep throwing it out there for everyone. Unfortunately they don’t always seem to know why they are throwing it out there or to whom they throw it. In baseball I ask the kids “why do you throw the ball?” I believe you throw the ball so that it will be caught. Those data need to be caught by people who can use them. The Administration needs to not only get that rich information out there, but it needs to share it in a manner than makes it catchable. Take a look at NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch and you’ll see that they are putting on a baseball clinic every day on how to throw and be caught. Create a portal that not only houses information, but translates it and delivers it into the hands of the users in a form that they know what to do with it.

Second the Administration has committed to partnering with communities, states and tribes to deal with the effects of climate change. This is crucial to successful outcomes. Even better, take it beyond the communities, and include the counties, farmers and the public lands. Earlier this year 500 people who are already making this effort part of their daily work convened in Denver at the National Adaptation Forum. The scope of the work underway demonstrates that the interest for this plan exists and already has a scaffolding upon which to be built. But it needs help — both through good sources of advice and green/grey infrastructure support. Advice could be well provided through a national extension agency. NOAA already has extension agents doing this and USDA recently committed to its own cohort. Now we need them for everything else! We also need to get resources and a workforce going on how to maximize our use of green infrastructure to make us more resilient to climate change and grey infrastructure where deemed to be the only option. Imagine a 21st century-New Deal version of the Works Projects Administration that makes our communities safer and more sustainable, where we spend tax dollars and other funds to invest in ourselves into the future. Look no farther than recovery work on the Gulf Coast and the post-Sandy eastern seaboard for where this is already underway — just without an explicit charge to be more robust in the face of future events.

Check out some of the needs and recommendations a group of interested experts put together recently in The State of Adaptation in the United States and see what other agencies and organizations are doing to respond to climate change on the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange.

It was inspiring today to hear our nation’s leader speak out about this unprecedented challenge. I take heart in his spirit, his words and his intention. Yes, real change and a better tomorrow can happen  “…if we don’t fear the future, instead we seize it.” Keep the good ideas flowing and move them all toward action. Yes, we can change the path of climate change!

-- Dr. Lara Hansen, Chief Scientist and Executive Director, EcoAdapt

Monday, June 24, 2013

Obama Announcing National Climate Change Plan Tuesday, June 25th: Climate Change is 'Challenge that Affects Everyone'

U.S. President Barack Obama has announced that he will roll out a national climate change plan that includes both mitigation and adaptation measures on Tuesday, June 25th at a speech at Georgetown University. In a video posted on the White House website, the President states that climate change is "a challenge that affects everyone and we all have a stake in solving it together."


At 1:30 ET, watch the speech live by visiting

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

EcoAdapt and Partners Bring Climate Change Adaptation (and Lovely Weather!) to the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative’s Rocky Mountain Partner Forum

By Lara Hansen

Springtime in Bozeman! The wildflowers are blooming, along with the cultivated lilac. But all the talk is about climate change, even on the front page of the local paper. Lara was in town joining the great Molly Cross (Wildlife Conservation Society), Nina Chambers and Gary Tabor (Center for Large Landscape Conservation) for a collaboration to work with the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative’s Rocky Mountain Partner Forum. The team led a two-day workshop to explore opportunities for watershed function and coldwater systems conservation and management. Researchers and managers from around the region compared relevant goals, considered the implications of climate change, and envisioned means to achieve success in the face of climate change.

It is always a good idea for a workshop of this size to make sure that everyone is on the same page and using common language so conversation is understood. To support this we started off the day with a few presentations. First, an overview of the GNLCC by Yvette Converse where she highlighted the goals of the GNLCC as a whole and the Rocky Mountain Partner Forum concept. You can learn more about the GNLCC here. Next up was a tagteam overview of adaptation perspectives and approaches from Lara and Molly. Then we got into the effects of climate change. First up, Greg Pederson (USGS) on climate projections and uncertainties for the region, followed by Robert Al-Chockachy (USGS) on climate change impacts to stream flows, wetlands and aquatic species, and Ray Rasker (Headwaters Economics) on current socio-economic and demographic trends and implications for climate change responses. We also got a suite of examples shared about how people are already approaching the climate change challenge in the region. Look for more on these as case studies on CAKE soon!

Sending the group forth to evaluate solutions in small groups, Gary Tabor suggested that participants think of themselves as investment bankers and use the climate information they had heard in the morning as their guide to making investment choices. With this model they could develop a portfolio that will last into the future.

Identifying regional refugia to prioritize for protection
Lots of groups in the region are working on identifying climate refugia or factors that might convey resilience to support refugia. There was a group desire to coordinate those groups and develop a good refugia resource. Many of the existing data sets, ongoing studies, and groups interested were identified to perhaps move forward on this as an activity of the Rocky Mountain Partner Forum.

Developing a holistic management strategy for the Rocky Mountain Partner Forum
While there was a great deal of interest and effort afoot to identify the refugia, there was group appreciation that protecting refugia would not prove successful without protecting the “matrix” around it. This led the group to an additional action of interest, which was to develop an integrated, holistic plan for conservation and management across the landscape, including public and private lands—from wildlands to agricultural fields to towns and cities.

Mitigation (a.k.a. reducing greenhouse gas emissions)
The need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions also loomed large in the conversation. With news of the atmosphere arriving at 400ppm CO2 arriving a few weeks before the workshop, the need to action to slow the rate and extent of climate change was apparent and lead to some heated (no pun intended) conversation about how to best achieve this—through personal action, public education, international mandate or something else.

To find out more about the workshop, visit the official workshop support page and stay tuned for further work in this process.  Our workshop also made the local newspaper!

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Heart of Rock and Roll (and Climate Adaptation) are in Cleveland!

By Lara Hansen and Alex Score

EcoAdapt just got back from Cleveland. There is a lot of exciting stuff going on there in northern Ohio. First off, we are happy to report that the Cuyahoga River was flowing without flame! Hooray for the Clean Water Act! 
Thanks to the Clean Water Act, the Cuyahoga no longer does this. Hooray!

(Photo from Cleveland Press Collection at
 Cleveland State University Library.)
Secondly, we are also happy to report that the City of Cleveland, along with some partners in surrounding communities and county agencies, has an effort afoot to develop a Climate Action Plan that not only aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also includes actions to help the region prepare for and respond to the effects of climate change. 

Learning and innovating in Cleveland.
Thirdly, we were thrilled to meet the 20 people who came to the Awareness to Action workshop we ran with Freshwater Future as one of their regional Climate Symposia. These individuals are part of community development corporations, watershed protection groups, conservation organizations and interested individuals from all around the region. They learned some basics about adaptation, shared some ideas of their own and developed a new understanding of how to approach their work so that climate change would no longer be overlooked in their decision-making. Some of them will even get grants from Freshwater Future to support their clever new ideas.

Finally, there is an urban agriculture renaissance afoot in Cleveland. In addition to the traditional pea patches and fruit trees, some innovators have started viticulture in a downtown neighborhood. Chateau Hough, is located on ¾ of an acre at the corner of 66th and Hough in downtown Cleveland. 

A tree may grow in Brooklyn, but grapes grow in Cleveland.

They are planning the first vintage in 2013. While productive wine grapes in Cleveland might sound like a benefit of climate change, this might be a short lived innovation if projections by Hannah et al. (2013) are correct and viticulture suitability diminishes in the region mid-century (that’s what the red means in the figure below, its suitable now but not in the future). But the good citizens of Cleveland will reap the benefits in the meantime! Hey, if they plant the right varieties they may be adaptable and the wine culture can continue. Salut!

(From Hannah et al. 2013)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Adaptation Maven's Column: Whole lotta adapting going on!

For those of you adaptation fans out there who couldn’t make it to Denver the first week of April, you missed out on an event that is getting rave reviews. Despite restrictions on federal agency staff travel (a.k.a. the sequester), the Inaugural National Adaptation Forum drew nearly 500 people to its 60 symposia, 28 working group and 12 training sessions. Representing 43 states[1] and the District of Columbia, two territories, five Canadian provinces and two continents, a diverse crowd shared their ideas and questions relating to the challenges climate change brings to their work and lives. Depending on your perspective either none of us was an expert or we were all experts. Regardless, we were all engaged in the issues and eager to create solutions where today there may only be problems.
People came from far and wide to attend the Forum!

Here’s what the Mavens took away:

You are not alone! There were 500 people who made it to Denver to discuss these issues, and many more who wanted to come. Apologies to all on the waiting list, but the fire marshal said we couldn’t register any more than that! If 500 people could find out about this event and get to Denver, just think how many more like-minded resourceful, creative thinkers there are out there. So if one of your 499 new colleagues isn’t around to help you, or if you couldn’t make it to the Forum, try chatting with folks in your region and create your own regional hub of adaptation brilliance.

There are great ideas being tried all over! Many of the adaptation examples shared at the Forum were solutions to problems not initially identified as climate change-related or were not sold as climate change adaptation action. Many more were methodically planned as climate change adaptation. All of them are going to move us towards deeper understanding of what works and what gets the preferred outcome. We need to be doing more to capture, celebrate, and share this learning…including lessons in what did not work so we can figure out why. Stay tuned. The plenaries were all taped [they will be posted on the Forum website ( soon so you can see for yourself] and the presentations from the sessions will be posted as PDFs linked to the Forum program so you can find more details on those as well.

We have work to do. There are heaps of great ideas but that does not diminish the heaps of challenges people are still thinking through. There was much talk at the Forum about how we learn from others (both from successes and failures), as well as how we build more connections between efforts to work toward more holistic adaptation practice (“Hey, don’t put that levee in my wetland!” or “Hey, can we restore more wetland habitat where we built all those impermeable parking lots so our city won’t flood anymore?” or more generally “Hey, why are you doing something that doesn’t protect what I care about?”). The power of a single adaptation action is magnified when we share it with others.

We can do it. There are heaps of great examples, innovative people and powerful tools (like the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange) out there to help us make this happen. There is a growing community of people who are just starting to find each other, learn from each other and work together to come up with even better ideas!

The Inaugural National Adaptation Forum was just a stepping stone in the path to a climate savvy future. Don’t lose momentum, don’t forget about your community, and don’t forget that even actions that seem trivial to you can be inspiring or enlightening to others (“oh, so THAT’S what adaptation looks like! I can do that!”). We’re all in this together!

See you in 2015! Or sooner!

[1] This of course leads you to want to know who wasn’t there. Well not to name names but...Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska (which was right next door for goodness sake!) and North Dakota. If you know adaptation practitioners in those states make sure you reach out to them. They may be a little lonely.