Saturday, May 25, 2013

Finding out what climate adaptation looks like at the local level


LookCCI am intrigued by this statement by Kirsten Howard, who just received her master’s degree in environmental policies from the University of Michigan: “We wanted to see adaption to climate change through the everyday decisions of people and communities,” Howard said. “And we wanted to get that perspective to inform our future policy work.” (Aspiring policymakers hit the road to learn about climate change adaptation, 5/23/2013) Great Lakes Echo)

Kirsten Howard and Allie Goldstein’s summer project Great American Adaptation Road Trip is “Uncovering stories of people and places using their wits and resources to adapt to the impacts of climate change.” An idea marvelously simple and profound, these two intrepid thinkers are actually going out and asking folks around the country what they’re doing about Climate Change. It’s so obvious one wonders why climate scientists and policy makers haven’t done the same thing: Instead of just gathering environmental data, modeling it, and suggesting policies for adapting to Climate change that assume the public will hop on board, go and find out what the public is already doing and is likely to do.

Most Climate Change studies include recommendations on adapting to and mitigating Climate Change. And while ambitious and certainly reasonable these recommendations have almost no chance of getting widespread public support, as many are draconian and costly, like updating or replacing our water, transportation and telecommunications infrastructures. Widespread public support isn’t just a neat idea. You aren’t going to solve Climate Change without it. It’s like deciding to change your country’s currency; if the public doesn’t buy it, you’ve got a lot of useless paper lying around.

Many groups are noodling through this lack of public support on the Climate Change conundrum:

The US disconnect over climate change Amid growing scientific proof that global warming is man-made, we look at why the public gives credence to the sceptics. As scientists become more overwhelmingly convinced that climate change is man-made, why do politicians and the public give credence to global warming sceptics? A review of scientific literature published this week has found that 97 percent of peer-reviewed papers taking a position on global warming say humans are causing it. Yet, a large proportion of the US public still seems unconvinced.  (May 18, 2013) Aljazeer

This American Life devoted an hour program-- 495: Hot In My Backyard --trying to get at the Big Disconnect. In one segment, a climatologist who is supposed to be helping farmers plan for the future hesitates mentioning that the recent spate of floods and droughts might be due to Climate Change, thus sustaining the delusion that these extreme weather events are cylindrical instead of a spiraling out of control. Yes, it would be alarming to talk about climate change to a room full of farmers who need to believe that better days will come, but what’s the whole point of the Climate Change issue except to raise alarm about an unprecedented situation that needs all hands on board?

Many leaders seem to fear that if they evoke the words ‘Climate Change’ in their community they will suddenly get thrown out of a closet of sorts and their lives will dramatically shift from their comfort zone to a very uncomfortable zone—the Unknown Zone. Recently, President Obama and NYS Governor Cuomo have outted themselves on Climate Change. But if Obama allows the XL Tar Sands Pipeline to pass through the US and Cuomo allows New York State to get Fracked, they might as well go back in the closet and close the door.

Solar power, a good climate/energy solution, is exploding in Rochester, NY but the media is loathe to mention Climate Change, even as we lay in limbo on the NYS Fracking decision, a bad climate/energy solution. In fact, there is much going at the Rochester, NY level and around country on Climate Change, but it’s not exactly what the recommendations of all the Climate Change studies suggest will actually solve the problem. So, taking a trip around the country and finding out what Climate adaptation looks like at the local level is a really good idea. It could be a great insight as to what our collective will to address this challenge will look like.

Find out more about Climate Change at the local level:

"Do the Math | The Movie" The “Do the Math” documentary is a 42-minute film about the rising of the movement in the United States to change the terrifying math of the climate crisis and challenge the fossil fuel industry.  You’ll come away inspired to act! Sunday, June 30th at 7:30PM at the First Unitarian Church, 220 S. Winton Rd. Rochester, NY 14610 Additional Details: See Bill McKibben at this best.  Panel discussion follows the movie.  Free and open to the public.  More Info at

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