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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Agricultural Adaptation in the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has examined the potential impacts of both climate change and adaptation on the U.S. agricultural sector. Uncertainty in future climate leads to uncertainty in impacts, with net returns to crop farmers ranging from a gain of $3.6 billion to a loss of $1.5 billion per year. Pests may reduce these returns by an additional $1.5 billion to $3.0 billion. Adaptation efforts can offset some of these losses, but those adaptation efforts generate adverse environmental externalities.

Global climate models predict increases over time in average temperature worldwide, with signifi cant impacts on local patterns of temperature and precipitation. The extent to which such changes present a risk to food supplies, farmer livelihoods, and rural communities depends in part on the direction, magnitude, and rate of such changes, but equally importantly on the ability of the agricultural sector to adapt to changing patterns of yield and productivity, production cost, and resource availability. Study findings suggest that, while impacts are highly sensitive to uncertain climate projections, farmers have considerable fl exibility to adapt to changes in local weather, resource conditions, and price signals by adjusting crops, rotations, and production practices. Such adaptation, using existing crop production technologies, can partially mitigate the impacts of climate change on national agricultural markets. Adaptive redistribution of production, however, may have significant implications for both regional land use and environmental quality.

Climate Risk in the UK

A new report from the Adaptation Sub-Committee for the UK's Committee on Climate Change has generated estimates of the exposure of housing to flooding in coming years, largely due to ongoing development in floodplains. The report notes that development in such at-risk areas has outpaced development in less vulnerable locations. Despite emerging efforts toward adaptive flood protection, the pace of adaptation is unlikely to keep pace with development resulting in growing vulnerability.

The punchline: "Climate change could increase the number of properties in England with a significant chance of flooding2 from rivers or the sea: from 330,000 now to between 630,000 and 1.2 million by the 2080s, according to the climate change scenarios used in the CCRA. The annual expected costs of flooding could increase from £1 billion now to between £1.8 billion and £5.6 billion (present day prices) over the same time period. These estimates assume no further action to prepare, no population growth and no change in the property stock."

The report also takes a look at water scarcity, finding traditional demand management measures such as reduced household consumption and addressing leakage will not be able to offset the projected supply deficit for 2050.

Climate Change in Tennessee

Interested in a discussion of climate change in the state of Tennessee? Well, yesterday I joined a panel for WUOT's 'Dialogue' in which we spent an hour discussing the science, economics, and communication challenges of climate change in the Volunteer State.

Dialogue: Climate Change in Tennessee

In Tennessee, it can be hard to relate to stories about climate change. After all, there are no glaciers to recede, no polar caps to melt, and no coastlines threatened by rising sea levels. So what are the signs of climate change in the Volunteer State? Three panelists join WUOT's Brandon Hollingsworth for an examination of climate research in Tennessee, and the possible effects of climate shifts on the state's ecology, economy and people.

Joining us from the studios of NPR member station WVPE in Elkhart, Indiana, is Virginia Dale. She's a climate researcher with Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Ben Preston is the Deputy Director of the Climate Change Science Institute at ORNL. Scott Holladay is a fellow in energy and environmental policy at the Howard H. Baker Center in Knoxville.

Podcast here

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rio+20 in Summary

The general consensus on Rio+20 appears to be it was much ado about nothing. The outcome document largely reaffirms commitments to the actions which were agree back in 1992, with little evidence of any significant new commitments to sustainable or the international policy infrastructure for achieving sustainability. Specific references to climate adaptation occur in three locations in the outcome document, which largely repeat the findings of the IPCC's SREX report and emphasize the urgency of climate adaptation and the need for widespread cooperation:
  • 188. We stress the importance of stronger interlinkages among disaster risk reduction, recovery and long-term development planning, and call for more coordinated and comprehensive strategies that integrate disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation considerations into public and private investment,decision-making and the planning of humanitarian and development actions, in order to reduce risk, increase resilience and provide a smoother transition between relief, recovery and development. In this regard, we recognize the need to integrate  gender perspective into the design and implementation of all phases of disaster risk management.
  • 190. We reaffirm that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time,and we express profound alarm that emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise globally. We are deeply concerned that all countries, particularly developing countries, are vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, and are already experiencing increased impacts, including persistent drought and extreme weather events, sea-level rise, coastal erosion and ocean acidification, further threatening food security and efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development. In this regard we emphasize that adaptation to climate change represents an immediate and urgent global priority.
  • 191. We underscore that the global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, with a view to accelerating the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions. We recall that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change provides that parties should protect the climate system for the benefit of present and future generations of humankind on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. We note with grave concern the significant gap between the aggregate effect of mitigation pledges by parties in terms of global annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 and aggregate emission pathways consistent with having a likely chance of holding the increase in global average temperature below 2° C, or 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels. We recognize the importance of mobilizing funding from a variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including innovative sources of finance, to support nationally appropriate mitigation actions, adaptation measures, technology development and transfer and capacity-building in developing countries. In this regard, we welcome the launching of the Green Climate Fund and call for its prompt operationalization so as to have an early and adequate replenishment process.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dealing with Loss and Damage

The Department for International Development (DFID) and European Commission sponsored production of a briefing paper prepared by ActionAid, CARE, Germanwatch, and WWF on the concepts of loss and damage as focal points for future climate change negotiations. The premise of the brief is that regardless of mitigation and adaptation efforts, irreversible losses are likely to arise, particularly in least developed nations. Hence, international negations should include measures for compensating those that experience loss and damage from climate change. However, given the international community seems to face enough challenges with advancing adaptation and mitigation efforts, expecting that same community to simultaneously look beyond risk management at the management of losses would seem to be wishful thinking.

The State of The World's Refugees 2006

The latest edition of the State of the World's Refugees has been released by the UN and summarizes global dynamics from 2000 to 2006. The report implicates climate change as one of many factors contributing to the global burden of refugees - a questionable assertion, but one that is likely popular in some circles. However, in framing the challenges that lie ahead, the report focuses on eight factors:

  • First, states must be persuaded to reconsider their restrictive asylum policies.
  • Second, it must be ensured that the core principles of international refugee law, particularly that of non-refoulement, are not eroded.
  • Third, the security of refugees, particularly women and children, and humanitarian workers, must be enhanced.
  • Fourth, problems relating to protracted situations and the ‘warehousing’ of refugees must be resolved.
  • Fifth, host states must be prevented from undermining the principle of voluntary repatriation in the absence of responsibility-sharing by the international community.
  • Sixth, the problem of smuggling and trafficking of asylum seekers must be addressed.
  • Seventh, the root causes of refugee flows must be given more attention than they receive at present.
  • Eighth, UNHCR must respond to numerous supervisory, accountability and partnership challenges, besides clearly defining its role vis-à-vis internally displaced people.

The Weather Outside is Frightful

A study recently published in Nature Climate Change provides the first large-scale assessment of the potential impacts of climate change on the security of the energy supply. The dependence of thermoelectric power generation on the availability and temperature of cooling water represents a potential source of vulnerability for electricity generators. Model results suggest a decline in average generation on the order of 5 to 20% by mid-century.

North Carolina State Legislature Attempts 'Jedi Mind Trick'

As reported recently in Scientific American, North Carolina has discovered the solution to the challenges of climate change for the state's coastline. To investigate the risks of sea-level rise, the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission sponsored a study of sea-level rise and the state's vulnerability. That study recommended a sea-level rise benchmark of 1 meter by 2100 be used for coastal planning. The state legislature, however, took exception with that recommendation, and decided that legislators, not scientists, are the best judges of future sea-level rise (picture Obi-Wan waving his hand and saying "this not the sea-level rise estimate you seek"). Hence, they developed legislation that would effectively limit consideration for sea-level rise in planning policy to rates that have been observed historically (roughly 12 inches over a century). So while the proposed legislation is clearly designed to keep the economic wheels on the Carolina coast turning, one wonders how and when such short-sighted decision-making will come back to bite the state.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change

The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change's final report Achieving Food Security in the Face of Changing Climate outlines policy responses to the global challenge of feeding a world confronted by climate change, population growth, poverty, food price spikes and degraded ecosystems. The Commission and it's report are now setting the international agenda for achieving food security from local to global scales. The seven high-level recommendations from the Commission's report include the following:

1. Integrate food security and sustainable agriculture into global and national policies

2. Significantly raise the level of global investment in sustainable agriculture and food systems in the next decade

3. Sustainably intensify agricultural production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other negative environmental impacts of agriculture

4. Target populations and sectors that are most vulnerable to climate change and food insecurity

5. Reshape food access and consumption patterns to ensure basic nutritional needs are met and to foster healthy and sustainable eating habits worldwide

6. Reduce loss and waste in food systems, particularly from infrastructure, farming practices, processing, distribution and household habits

7. Create comprehensive, shared, integrated information systems that encompass human and ecological dimensions

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Vulnerability Assessment & Social Learning

A new paper published in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change by Yuen et al. (with me being one of the et al.), explores the utility of vulnerability assessment for stimulating social learning on climate change, its consequences, and potential adaptation responses. The abstract below provides the summary, but overall, the study suggests that a priori assumptions about the utility of technical assessments with respect to decision support may erroneous. Rather, the true utility, though ofter overlooked, lies in the role such assessments play in stimulating deliberation and acting as boundary objects for shared learning regarding climate change.

Yuen, E.J., Stone Jovicich, S., Preston, B.L. (2012) Climate change vulnerability assessments as catalysts for social learning: four case studies in south-eastern Australia. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, DOI 10.1007/s11027-012-9376-4.


Technical assessments of vulnerability and/or risk are increasingly being undertaken to assess the impacts of climate change. Underlying this is the belief that they will bring clarity to questions regarding the scale of institutional investments required, plausible adaptation policies and measures, and the timing of their implementation. Despite the perceived importance of technical assessments in 'evidence-based' decision environments, assessments cannot be undertaken independent of values and politics, nor are they capable of eliminating the uncertainty that clouds decision-making on climate adaptation As such, assessments can trigger as many questions as they answer, leaving practitioners and stakeholders to question their value. This paper explores the value of vulnerability/risk assessments in climate change adaptation planning processes as a catalyst for learning in four case studies in Southeastern Australia. Data were collected using qualitative interviews with stakeholders involved in the assessments and analysed using a social learning framework. This analysis revealed that detailed and tangible strategies or actions often do not emerge directly from technical assessments. However, it also revealed that the assessments became important platforms for social learning. In providing these platforms, assessments present opportunities to question initial assumptions, explore multiple framings of an issue, generatenew information, and galvanise support for collective actions. This study highlights the need for more explicit recognition and understanding of the important role social learning plays in climate change vulnerability assessments and adaptation planning more broadly.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Victory or Defeat?

Today's newspaper headlines from around Australia are reporting the pending demise of ~300 workers within the federal Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE), which represents approximately 30% of the department's workforce. The cuts are part of a broader contraction of the civil service intended to squeeze a surplus out of next year's federal budget. While the cuts appear to largely target DCCEE's energy and safety programs divisions, the lean budget will likely have implications for investments in adaptation as well. For example, the contract for the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (which is funded through DCCEE) is due to expire in 2013, and from what I'm hearing, no one expects that contract to be renewed. Direct spending by DCCEE on adaptation programs is also expected to decline.

As Dorothea Mackeller wrote, Australia is the land "of droughts and flooding rains." This seems to apply to the nation's science policy as well. Since 2005, Australia has invested heavily in adaptation research and practice, with other nations (particularly the United States) looking on hoping to learn from the Land Down Under. Now that flood looks poised to turn to drought. Is Australia's leadership position on this issue fading, or has the awareness and capacity of the nations' organizations been sufficiently developed such that they're now capable of helping themselves?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

European Climate Adaptation Platform

The European Union has launched its web-based CLIMATE-ADAPT tool to support adaptation planning at EU, national, regional and local levels. The tool provides access to information on the following:

  • Expected climate change in Europe

  • The vulnerability of regions, countries and sectors now and in the future

  • Information on national, regional and transnational adaptation activities and strategies

  • Case studies of adaptation and potential future adaptation options

  • Online tools that support adaptation planning

  • Adaptation-related research projects, guideline documents, reports information sources, links, news & events.


The final full version of the IPCC's Special Report on Extremes (known more formally as Special Report: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation) was released last week. The IPCC's special reports never seen to get as much attention as the assessment reports, despite the fact that SREX (with the exception of mitigation issues) encompasses much of what is of interest to policy-makers: climate extremes, vulnerability, adaptation, risk management, and the various associated uncertainties. Furthermore, SREX integrates material on climate science, impacts, and adaptation (i.e., Working Groups I and II) and thus reflects a level of collaboration between these communities that often fails to occur during the more traditional (and now seemingly entrenched) structure for the assessment reports. The neglect of mitigation in the SREX is therefore a missed opportunity, as I'm sure there's a policy-maker or two out there who would be interested to know, say, what's the effect of different mitigation futures on the future frequency and intensity of extreme events and the subsequent implications for adaptation demand. In any case, with the AR5 rolling out over the next couple of years (2013-2014), there's plenty more to come.

*SREX Summary for Policymakers [here]
*SREX Full report [here]

Evidence for Adaptation Among UK Companies

A new report from the UK's Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) commissioned by the Department for Environment,Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) takes a look at the preparedness of UK businesses with respect to climate change. to assist in gathering evidence of the resilience of UK businesses in response to climate change. The CDP used data submitted by members of the FTSE 100 (89 companies in total) in response to the Investor CDP 2011 information request and CDP Water Disclosure 2011 information request to gather insights into business attitudes and action on adaptation. Although the assessment identified a high degree of diversity among different businesses with respect to consideration for climate change risks and opportunities, overall, less than half of responding FTSE 100 companies were found to be incorporating climate adaptation into their business strategies. In addition, engagement with policy-makers on adaptation is quite limited compared to the more robust public/private collaboration associated with UK climate mitigation policy.

Australian Limits to Adaptation

Australia's National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility recently completed work on a series of projects exploring limits to adaptation for Australian ecosystems and communities. The projects explore multiple types of limits: biophysical, economic, and technological. The projects also explore the normative nature of adaptation limits, which are often context dependent. Links to specific projects are provided below:

Do Alligators Represent Transformational Change?

John Nielsen-Gammon's blog has an interesting post on funding recently provided to the State of Michigan by the U.S. federal government to pilot new industries, including alligator farming (as reported by Eric Sharp of the Detroit Free Press). Not known for their love of cold winters, the warming climate has apparently made alligator farming viable, particularly if the animals have been bred to manage Michigan's relatively cold winters. Regardless of the links to climate change, I found the article's comments on the potential risks to humans of introducing alligators to be the most amusing aspect of the story:

"We figure in the first 10 years we might see gators eat 15 people, no more
than 50 tops. But we kill nearly that many on snowmobiles every year, and once
Michiganders become accustomed to look for those little bumps sticking up that
are the gator's eyes and nose, it should drop back down to about the same rate
as in Florida."
Despite the body count, this could be a foreshadowing of things to come, as climate-sensitive industries jostle for climate-friendly geographies. For a more academic discussion on this topic, see the recent paper by Park et al. (2012).

Planet under Pressure

Last week I attended the 2012 Planet Under Pressure Conference, which convened under the theme “New Knowledge Towards Solutions.” The conference issued the "State of the Planet Declaration," which includes statements of support from the Planet Under Pressure Board of Patrons, the UN Secretary-General, and the youth movement. The conference largely appeared to provide the leadership of the sustainability research community an opportunity to demonstrate the relevance of science and research for meeting the challenges of sustainability in advance of the Rio +20 conference. However, the disconnect between the apparent state of emergency in which the planet finds itself and the support for actions to put the planet on a sustainable path appears quite profound. Meanwhile, given the conference declaration's support for "fundamental reorientation and restructuring of national and international institutions", "recognition of non-monetary values", and, basically, more research, it doesn't appear that practical progress toward sustainability is likely to be forthcoming any time soon.

ADB on Climate Change and Migration

The Asia Development Bank (ADB) has released a report, titled "Addressing Climate Change and Migration in Asia and the Pacific," which underscores that climate change will increase the frequency of extreme weather events, making more areas inhospitable to human habitation and secure livelihoods. The report presents the potential impacts of climate change on migration in Asia and the Pacific. It notes that, while most migration will continue to take place within countries, greater cross-border movement is also foreseen, stressing the need for greater international cooperation on migration matters. It highlights that migration from the Pacific islands to Australia and New Zealand has been a repeated pattern in recent decades.

The report also identifies existing international agreements, guidelines, principles, and dialogue forums that can be more effectively used to improve migration management, and recommends greater investments in urban infrastructure and basic services to accommodate the anticipated increase in migrant flows to the region’s megacities. It also identifies a need to protect migrant rights and provide migrants with equitable access to education, health, water and sanitation, citing the importance of strengthening the resilience of climate-threatened communities. Action areas include improving disaster risk management systems and creating livelihood opportunities.

World Water Development Report

The fourth edition of the World Water Development Report (WWDR4), ‘Managing Water under Uncertainty and Risk’ was recently launched at the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille by Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General, and Michel Jarraud, UN-Water Chair. The WWDR4 is a comprehensive review of the world's freshwater resources and seeks to demonstrate, among other messages, that water underpins all aspects of development, and that a coordinated approach to managing and allocating water is critical. The Report underlines that in order to meet multiple goals water needs to be an intrinsic element in decision-making across the whole development spectrum.

Climate Impacts in Latin America and the Caribbean

The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has published a report that examines current and future trends in climate variability and their likely impacts on the region's extensive coastline. The report provides an atlas of the current physical conditions and changes detected in key coastal variables in 44,851 miles of LAC coastline, such as average sea level, surface temperature of the sea, salinity, swells, astronomical tides, air temperature anomalies, wind changes and hurricanes. The report further looks at how these variables might be affected by 2040, 2050 and 2070.
The report is the first in a series of four, which are planned to be released in 2012 as part of an ECLAC project on climate change and LAC coastal regions financed by the Government of Spain. The second will look in greater detail at the vulnerability and exposure to climate change of LAC coasts, the third will detail probable climate change impacts, and the fourth will evaluate the climate change risks faced by LAC coasts. ECLAC also plans to release support documents on the theories and methodology used to project climate change impacts on LAC's coastal regions and analyze their risks.

WMO Weather and Climate Information System

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has launched a new international information system to improve climate and weather-related data exchange. The new WMO Information System (WIS) aims to facilitate access and use of meteorological observations. The system builds on the WMO's existing World Weather Watch, which has been operational for the past 40 years. The new system, which will seek to take advantage of recent advances in communications technologies, is expected to reduce the costs of information exchange for national meteorological and hydrological services.

Environmental Social Science Posts: University of East Anglia, UK

The School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia is inviting applications for a number of exciting new posts. These include a Readership in Climate Change (covering inter alia policy, regulation, governance, adaptation and behaviour change) and a Lectureship on the interactions between Science and Policy. The former is linked to the internationally renowned Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, which is headquartered at the School of Environmental Sciences.Informal enquiries should be directed to Professor Andrew Jordan: <> The latter is linked to the Science, Society and Sustainability (3S) group. Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Jason Chilvers: <> For further details about all the posts, please go to: <> The deadline for applications to all posts is 4 May 2012.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Asia/Pacific Network Climate Report

Recently, the Asia/Pacific Network (APN) published a Climate Synthesis Report, which is a synthesis of 56-related projects funded by the APN since 1999. The report indicates that,

"while there is much activity at the global level, there is a great need to intensify investigative research of climate change and climate variability and trends at the regional level, as these are still poorly understood. Consistent socio-economic data collection is needed, as is the need for an interdisciplinary approach to solving complex climate change problems. The increasing frequency and severity of floods, droughts and extreme temperatures requires the use of appropriate indices to improve monitoring and prediction of extreme events."

The report can be found on the APN Website at

U.S. AID's Climate Change and Development Strategy

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) recently released a new 5-year Climate Change and Development Strategy:

"USAID is considering both how our activities affect greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts that a changing climate is already having (and will continue to have) on our globe. The strategy prioritizes development planning and programming for sustainable economic growth that is not only resilient to climate change but also reduces contributions to greenhouse gas emissions."

In Search of Good Practices for Urban Adaptation

ESCAP, UN-HABITAT and the Rockefeller Foundation are seeking assistance in documenting good practices on urban climate change adaptation & resilience as part of an effort to prepare a 'Quick Guide' on climate change adaptation and resilience in urban poor communities in Asia and the Pacific.

If you know of a practice that has already been documented extensively, e.g. for an award, for advocacy or training – online or in print, kindly send the a) name and location of the good practice; b) link to and/ or the document itself describing the good practice; and c) contact details of a focal point able to provide further information to by latest Mon, 27 Feb 2012.

Meanwhile, in recognition that many good practices have yet to be recorded, the partners also seek to commission the documentation of several good practices between February and May 2012. Local documenters of selected good practices will be remunerated for their contribution and work closely with ESCAP in a reiterative documentation process, as part of which ESCAP also plans to visit some of the practices. If you or your organization is interested in documenting a good practice between February and May 2012 that you have extensive knowledge of, that is at an advanced implementation stage and that has not been documented in detail before, then kindly send below completed Summary Questionnaire to: by latest Mon, 27 Feb 2012. The partners will short-list good practices to be documented from all completed expressions of interest that we receive and contact focal points of the selected practices.

Climate Variability and Change in the Himalayas

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has published a new study that investigates the effects of climate and socioeconomic change on the livelihoods of mountain people in the Hindu-Kush Himalayan (HKH) region, causes of vulnerability, and the ways people cope with and adapt to change, with the overall aim of contributing to enhancing the resilience of vulnerable mountain communities. ICIMOD conducted a community-based vulnerability and adaptive capacity assessment in four areas: Uttarakhand in northwestern India; Nepal, Eastern Bhutan, and North East India, to identify peoples perceptions of climate variability and change; to identify underlying causes of vulnerability of mountain communities; to assess existing coping and adaptation mechanisms and their sustainability in view of predicted future climate change; and to formulate recommendations on how to improve individual and collective assets. The findings demonstrate that climate and socioeconomic change are already affecting the livelihoods of mountain communities, and that the communities have developed a repertoire of response strategies to these changes.

The report can be downloaded at

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy

The National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy has been released for public review and comment. The strategy, which largely targets federal, state, and tribal natural resource managers and elected officials, contains a synthesis of the current state-of-knowledge regarding potential climate and non-climatic impacts to U.S. natural resources and ecosystems. This is followed by the identification of a range of strategic priorities for adaptation and actions to be pursued under each, and its gives proper lip-service to the importance of inter-agency coordination. Nevertheless, as we've seen many times before, it's rather clear that the policy framework for the design and implementation of such actions (i.e., the hard part) has yet to be developed. For example, as the strategy itself states,

"[The plan] is not a detailed operational plan, nor does it prescribe specific actions to be taken by specific agencies or organizations, or specific management actions for individual species. In addition, the development of strategies and actions for this document was not constrained by assumptions of current or future available resources."

So beyond it's general educational value to stakeholders, of what utility is strategy that doesn't provide details on implementation, actor responsibilities, or evaluation of the costs and benefits of different actions? At some point one hopes that such adaptation strategies will give way to more robust planning, decision, and investment frameworks to ensure the work that clearly needs to get done to facilitate the adaptation of natural ecosystems and resources actually gets done.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Recent Titles from ELDIS

How important is information to disaster response? "This paper highlights recent advances in the use of climate information to improve livelihoods and save lives. By analysing experiences like that of the Red Cross in West Africa, it takes stock of the needs and capabilities of the humanitarian community and assesses the types of climate-related information products that may help inform disaster risk reduction and development decision-making processes."

How can disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation be integrated?
"This paper reviews the extent of convergence between disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) at a number of scales. It also examines what is at stake if the two agendas do not converge. The authors present updated evidence of where DRR and CCA are already converging and evaluate obstacles to further convergence."

Measuring the levels of urban climate disaster resilience: Climate Disaster Resilience Index
"Coastal urban cities in Asia are experiencing ever-increasing vulnerability due to climate change impacts and fast-growing urban development. This study measures the existing level of climate disaster resilience of the targeted areas using a Climate Disaster Resilience Index (CDRI) which is based on natural, physical, social, economic and institutional dimensions. Higher values of resilience are equivalent to higher preparedness to cope with climate and disasters and inversely."

Monday, January 16, 2012


ICARUS (Initiative on Climate Adaptation Research and Understanding through the Social Sciences) has issued a call for papers for the third ICARUS meeting to be held at Columbia University from Thursday May 17 through Sunday May 20, 2012. ICARUS-III follows on the ICARUS-I and II meetings organized at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment. The theme of the ICARUS-III meeting is “Scales, Frameworks and Metrics.”

More information available here:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

PROVIA Seeks Conference Host

With planning for ‘Adaptation Futures’ the 2nd International Conference on Climate
already well underway, PROVIA (Programme of Research on Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation) is already seeking volunteers to host the 3rd conference in 2014. Any takers?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Leaks on the IPCC Ship

Rumour has it that the IPCC continues to suffer from mysterious happenings out in cyberspace. An attempt has been made to post various "zero order draft (ZOD)" chapters from WGI and WGII of the Fifth Assessment Report to a website (go track it down yourself, I refuse to do anything more to facilitate this cheekiness by providing a link). Although as I write, those chapters no longer appear to be accessible.

As the ZODs tend to be very rough first cracks at chapter content (pre-formal peer review), they likely reveal little regarding what will eventually emerge from the IPCC process, although the very fact that they are so unpolished could be a bit embarrassing in itself. The IPCC is no stranger to politics and criticism, yet the magnifying glass under which the IPCC now finds itself has many authors thinking defensively. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is open to interpretation. No doubt, there will be many more attempts to access and dissiminate drafts in the months ahead.

Adaptation Positions at the University of Leeds

New positions are currently being advertised at the University of Leeds for adaptation researchers. Dr. Suraje Dessai is leading a recruitment effort to attract two Research Fellows and a Lecturer. Recruitment is closing soon.

More information can be found here:

Director, Climate Adaptation Policy

The Nature Conservancy has an opening for the position of Director, Climate Adaptation Policy (You've got until midnight to apply. . . ).

The Director of Climate Adaptation Policy will lead and manage policy activities as part of an integrated effort to further the climate adaptation agenda of the Conservancy. The Director of Climate Adaptation Policy provides direction to other government relations staff and also directly interacts with U.S. Federal agencies, Cabinet departments and White House offices; Congressional staff; and State, Tribal and local governments. In addition, the position will oversee Conservancy policy efforts in international fora such as negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, with international donor institutions, and in key countries identified in the Conservancy’s key country strategy (Brazil, Indonesia, China and Mexico). The position will be based within the Conservancy’s U.S. Government Relations Department, reporting to the Director, U.S. Government Relations, with a dotted line to the Climate Adaptation Strategy Leader and will work in close coordination with other external affairs staff and with the Conservancy’s Climate Adaptation Team as part of an organization-wide climate adaptation strategy. The Director of Climate Adaptation Policy may be required to register as a lobbyist under relevant provisions of U.S. law.

To Apply:
Go to click on “How to Apply: and then on “View Positions”, and search for Position # 39593, Director, Climate Adaptation Policy. Applicants must complete the on-line application, submit a resume and cover letter as one document, and provide salary requirements. Applications accepted through midnight, January 13, 2012.

Book: Local Climate Action Planning

Angela Osborn of Island Press sent me some details regarding a new book:

As more communities begin addressing the need to reduce energy consumption, a new set of tools will be required to inform that process.Local Climate Action Planning is the first book designed to help planners, municipal staff and officials, citizens and others working at local levels to develop Climate Action Plans. A CAP clearly outlines a community’s plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, lowering energy consumption, and in the process creating a more livable, sustainable community. With examples drawn from actual plans, Local Climate Action Planning guides preparers of CAPs through the entire plan development process, identifying the key considerations and choices that must be made in order to assure that a plan is both workable and effective. This practical guide synthesizes the many disparate materials currently available on creating CAPs into one readable work. In addition, the authors present CAP case studies: communities that have created innovative plans and are in the process of implementing them, each uniquely demonstrating how CAPs can be suited to meet the needs of all types of localities.

The authors are climate action plan veterans, having worked on over three dozen CAPs and gas emission inventories. They also deliver a strong academic perspective, with experience researching and publishing on the state of climate action planning practice nationwide.

For more information, please visit You may also view the book online: please visit to request access.

Did I Miss Anything?

I was browsing through email sent to the Adaptation Online email address last night (something I hadn't done in quite some time), which led to the following realizations:

  1. Posts have been infrequent in recent months, and by that I mean nonexistent.

  2. People noticed the infrequency of posts - evidenced by emails with subject lines that read "Are you still there?"

  3. A lot has transpired in the adaptation arena over the past half year
I won't make excuses, because I'm sure you don't care about how much time very small children can soak up (particularly those of the newborn variety); or the difficulties of balancing research, IPCC commitments, US National Assessment commitments, and the travel associated with each; or the pressures of attempting to find moderately interesting things to say about adaptation on a regular basis.

Suffice to say, I'm hoping to resume more frequent posts, as it's become clear that the less I blog about adaptation, the less aware I am of what's going on with adaptation. I won't attempt to catch-up on six months or so of happenings. However, I will try and cover some of the emails I did receive, with apologies if my response or post comes far too late to be of any use to you.