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?

Thanks!

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.