Brief comments on coping with the impacts of a changing climate … as if the future matters Michael (Mickey) Glantz CCB, University of Colorado, BoulderAsia Pacific Graduates Youth Forum on Green Economy 25-29 September 2012, Kathmandu, Nepal SEN ICIMOD CCB APN
UNEP’s Mission 1972• “to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.”
Shouldn’t there be a Hindsight component to a Foresight Panel? The Question: Does environmental history have a future? The Answer: Yes, if we want to know how we got to this point in time and to seek better informed guidance in the face of an uncertain future. No, if you think that history has no chance of repeating itself.
Climate and InequityThere are also inequities with regard to animals and other living things
The Challenge: Reaching Every Element of Civil Society
Linking or Sinking link scientific concerns about the future with local societal concerns todayCommunicating with civil societyabout the importance of awarenessof climate change and itsforeseeable impacts is a centralfactor in making climate changescience research findings sciencethat is usable by society, eg, usablescience
We need Social inventions Ideas and concepts that change human behavior.
Social Invention Exampleshttp://clairewaghorn.wordpress.com/ The Blue Marble Global Change Spaceship Earth The Space Age Social e-networks
Foreseeability: use it as a qualitative version of probability• "FORESEEABLE RISK, i.e., risks whose consequences a person of ordinary prudence would reasonably expect might occur…• In tort law… a partys actions may be deemed negligent only where the injurious consequences of those actions were foreseeable."• For example, "established by proof that the actor or person of reasonable intelligence and prudence, should reasonably have anticipated danger to others created by his or her negligent act.“ Focus on AOCs• "Foreseeability encompasses not only that which Not on Hotspots! the defendant foresaw, but that which the defendant ought to have foreseen."(Gifis, 1991)
Decisionmaking under foreseeability: to run or not to run a stop sign?
Make explicit what you mean by adaptation • UNFCCC: adaptation refers to climate change related impacts – FCCC definition: "adaptation" refers only to new actions in response to climate changes that are attributed to greenhouse gas emissions. • IPCC: adaptation refers to any changes
Need for a better Understanding of the influences of Seasonality global warming & “acclimatizing” seasons as we’ve come to expect them Like ecosystems, human activities are also influenced by the natural flow of the seasons. More so by humans, because they have expectations about that flow that really determine their responses, good or bad, to that natural flow.
Some living things can’t adapt: who is responsible to care for them?
Adaptation to variability, change, extremes:no recommendations without statements about ramifications if recommendations are not followedRecommendations are just suggestions.To increase the chance they will be implemented, it is necessary to identify the potential consequences of not acting on them.
We must identify & prepare to mitigatethe downstream impacts of an adaptation • Adaptation is an on-going process, not just a one-time event. • Each adaptive strategy or tactic will generate its own set of impacts. • Societies must identify second- and third-order impacts of adaptation (downstream impacts).
Pay attention to Rates of changeRates of change areas important as thechange itselfThe future is arriving …earlier than expected!The rates are mostlikely to capturepolitical attention thanis the magnitude ofchange.
2020 is the new 2050!Rates of change can be as important as the magnitude of change Arctic sea ice extent in 2007 was at a level not expected to occur till 2020; 13 years earlier!
Focus on Creeping environmental change X Focus on creeping changes and rates of change instead of searching for a “dread factor” to spark policy changes.
• The Millennium Assessment calls for ecosystems goods and services for environmental well being. • This suggests that ecosystems have little value if not of use to society. • It should be reversed: Human goods & services for ecosystems well being. • Societies need Ecosystems more than they need societies.Human good & services for environmental well being, and NOT the other way around !
Adapting to meet economic wants but not needs: (decision making, as if the future of others did not matter) Demise of the Aral Sea, Central Asia (1960-present)
Make explicit what you mean by Resilience: 3 variations on a theme• Ability … to withstand the consequences. • Power to recovery original shape & size.• Capacity to adapt without harm.
We may not agree on what resilience is, But we can see what it isn’t !Dynamitefishingin thePhilippines
Resilient Adaptation as a “social invention”• Flexible, shifting interventions• Plasticity• Requires innovation• Requires improvisation• It attempts to “glimpse” the future• It brings stability while coping with changes in resilience
Planetary geo-engineering:While there are many Plan, Bs there is no Planet B
Ignorance vs. “Ignore-ance” what you don’t know (or ignore) can still hurt you• Ignorance is not knowing something.• “Ignore-ance” is knowing something and not caring about it Which one is this?
• Ignore-ance: paying attention only to pieces of information that support one’s views, wishes or policies , e.g., “selective inattention
There is a need for early warnings about … early warning systems
Expect climate and other surprises: some surprises are expectable (eg, foreseeable)• A key element of “surprise” is the “unexpected”.• However, not all ‘surprises’ are ‘unexpected’. • I was “semi-surprised”, “almost surprised,” “hardly surprised,” “a little surprised,” “sort of surprised,” “somewhat surprised” There are “foreseeable surprises” Hurricane Katrina 2005, USA
2011: Earthquake, Tsunami, Nuclear meltdown, nuclear fallout: impact of GHG emissionsThis was a complexhumanitarian crisis:A Quadruple Whammy Any one of these events would be a disaster in its own right but the combination was truly unexpectable, even outside the range of a conceivable scenario
Societies are constantly changing:Climate is not the only thing changing Shanghai Harbor 1988 2004
Identify Lessons about environmental “Lessons learned about lessons learned” • After each disaster lessons are identified and reported. • Similar disasters also end up with many of the earlier identified lessons being re- stated. • Lessons identified are not lessons learned. • The phrase lessons learned is part of the problem because people think someone is applying the lessons but in reality no one has the responsibility to do so.
Planet Earth is now Global Warming’s “Ground zero” no place to hide (b) In industrial and agrarian societies (a) On all continents (c) Where humans and ecosystems meet Especially inSeems governments vulnerable ecosystemsare choosing option (a)
Identify the Bright sides of climateGovernments must focus onthe bright side of climate notjust on its adversities (darkside). Focus on enhancingclimate-related benefits •Better seasonal forecasts •Better use of indigenous local science and coping •Better food storage facilities •Reintroducing the “lost crops”
My view about these climate-related ideas1. Climate-proofing --- misleading2. Food security --- misnomer3. Ground zero --- misfocused4. Deniers --- misapplied5. Extremes --- misdirected6. The verb “is” --- misused7. Ecosystems goods & services --- misconception8. Drivers (of change) --- misdirecting9. Mitigation (of greenhouse gas emissions) --- misarticulated10. Adaptation (to climate change) --- misunderstood11. Geo-engineering --- misadventure12. Purposely changing the atmosphere’s thermostat --- misguided
Why question these climate-related concepts 1. Climate-proofing --- misleading; can’t be totally immune from climate 2. Food security --- misnomer; it’s really a food-insecure world 3. Ground zero --- misfocused; every place sees itself as ground zero 4. Deniers --- misapplied; most skeptics are not deniers 5. Extremes --- misdirected; this overlooks high impact, non-extremes 6. The verb “is” --- misused; can be used to generate ambiguity 7. Ecosystems goods & services --- misconception; ecosystems need protection 8. Drivers (of change) --- misdirected; underlying causes are as important as proximate causes or catalysts 9. Mitigation (of greenhouse gas emissions) --- misarticulated; public defines it as softening not as reducing CO2 emissions 10. Adaptation (to climate change) --- misunderstood; too many definitions 11. Geo-engineering --- misadventure; an attempt to by pass the problem and avoid taking responsibility 12. Purposely changing the atmosphere’s thermostat --- misguided; cannot choose a CO2 level to return to in order to pick the climate you want