Thursday, June 09, 2011

Making Connections

We know the human brain isn't great at conceptualizing time.  Events can simultaneously "feel like yesterday" and "like a lifetime ago."  With our busy day-to-day extreme events can fade from memory altogether - headline news, millions of people's lives forever changed.  This video helps remind us of what we've seen in the past few years -- the expected impacts of greenhouse gas emissions from years ago, decades ago, accumulating and now resulting in more frequent and extreme record-breaking weather events.

As a result of our inaction and lack of global leadership to reduce emissions over the past 20 years, more and more people in the scientific and sustainability communities are increasing their attention on adaptation - that is, recognizing that we've locked in significant impacts, how can we change our systems - agricultural, transportation, cities, energy - to handle the unpredictable impacts of climate disruption in the least painful way possible?

ICLEI's had an adaptation program since '06 and hosts an annual Resilient Cities event. Clean Air - Cool Planet's "Climate Preparedness" program also aims to help communities survive for more climate impacts.  The National Academies of Science has more resources and reports on adaptation.  The federal government recognizing the threat to Americans this poses, and requested an interagency report last year.     The threat climate disruption poses to the global economy and rich and poor people alike is clear to the Economist.  Business managers are increasingly being called on to evaluate how climate impacts will impact their business.  On Monday Fast Company ran a story titled "The 'New Normal' Weather."

That last piece is authored by Curt Stager, whose president at Paul Smith's College, John Mills, is serving on the Higher Education Climate Adaptation Committee - a group we've convened through the ACUPCC, made up of college and university presidents, scientists, and other experts to evaluate how our institutions of higher learning should be preparing society to be more resilient in an unstable future - through their education, research, operations, and community engagement.  (Stager's also got a new book out - Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth - which I'm about to dive into.)

With dangerous heat advisories in effect in NYC and the tristate area, in early June, it's not hard to keep the need to adapt this front-of-mind.  In fact, if you're paying attention, it's impossible not to.

Stay going.

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