Tag Archives: transition planning

A transition plan already exists for coping with climate change but it uses different jargon

This post is a follow up to this post: [http://transcendingsquare.com/2016/05/20/climate-change-is-real-exxon-knew-all-along/]

The 2015 agreement for a global response to climate change was drafted in Paris last year with a group representing 197 countries. As of May 21, 2016, seventeen of the nations represented in 2015 have ratified the agreement.

The plan doesn’t use the word transition or the word plan but the words it uses suggests transition planning is a goal. Mitigation is the word used to represent work designed to directly cope with environmental destruction or changes resulting from climate change such as flooding caused by melting glaciers or by sea level rise or by increased hurricane activity. Adaptation is the word used to represent work designed to cope with the changing climate such as developing more heat tolerant crops. And resilience is the word used to describe how capable a community might be when facing a severe weather event. Financing insurance coverage to help offset costs of weather related damage is a suggestion for improving a community’s resilience.

Jargon and insurance coverage can only help to a certain extent, eventually someone has to get out in the field and shovel sand into sandbags for flood barriers or shovel debris out of the glacial lake drainage channel. And eventually a community’s insurance company (or insuring nation) needs to say sorry we will only provide flood insurance for this community is you are insuring a houseboat or cyclone resistant raft. Break-walls are helpful for protecting a community from occasional wave damage in turbulent weather but if the turbulent weather is occurring every year and the high tide is flooding roads then mitigation, adaptation and resilience might all have to move inland/upland a little farther.

I wrote about cherries in a recent post primarily because that is a crop and topic that is not naturally resilient and for the industry to survive it will need to adapt to the climate changes that are happening rather than just mitigate storm damage. Trees can be pruned after a bad storm to reduce losses but if all the season’s buds are frozen after an early thaw followed by a freezing weather event then there is no crop and only crop insurance left (if financially resilient). Eventually the bank or farmer has to to get fed up with the annual risk and plant new crops that are less risky.  I also wrote about cherries because they are a crop that is important within my region and one that I’ve experience with planting transitionally – in a region on the edge of the zones typically used for the crop.

Being willing to experiment and having some experience with farms and orchards played a role in my life many years ago when I first relocated to an area far in the north of the U.S.. Lack of sunshine and summertime were significant changes for me. And I spent a fair amount of time studying greenhouse designs when I first moved but I never had the budget to do more than make cold frame shelters for planting earlier in the spring. However I also looked into types of fruits and berries that might grow well in the climate, and planted a few different varieties. Semi-hardy cherry trees have continued to do well in my yard, while a semi-hardy dwarf peach and nectarine tree did well for a few years and then were frozen one harsh spring.

Climate change has been happening and people’s lives and careers are being permanently affected. The words we use to cope with change are important and talking about making changes is important but actually making changes is also important. Not ratifying the agreement that was reached by 197 nations will only continue to reduce the time we have to plan ahead and make resilient and adaptive changes instead of waiting for devastation to occur and performing mitigation after the fact.

So is it sad to think about the local Cherry Capital having to become the local peach or nectarine capital instead? Yes, it is kind of sad, but it seems more sad to think about having no cherries at all, so planting cherry trees farther north seems prudent whether it is called a mitigation strategy or an adaptive one. It does seem like it would be more resilient to have cherry orchards in a larger number of growing areas so that a severe weather event in one area might not affect the orchards in a slightly different area.

Any way you look at it, having cherry trees in the backyard is nicer than having a glacial lake or 50’C/122’F weather. We as a species need to recognize that our planet is our permanent home and unless we take better care of it, the planet will not be able to continue supporting us in the style to which some of us have become accustomed. Many parts of the world still don’t have electricity or running water for showers or drinking. Insurance policies can’t guarantee that electricity and running water will always be available just because it has been available in the past — not if the region becomes significantly different whether from storm damage or sea level rise or increased average daily temperatures, an insurance company can’t insure against permanent changes.

A community in Sweden is planning ahead where change due to human activity has become a significant risk. The whole town is moving citizens to a new location 3.2 kilometers farther down the road. The town is built over an iron mine which has excavated so much area from the ground under the town that the buildings and infrastructure are sinking. Starting over in a new location before a calamity occurs makes more sense than having to try to retrieve property from a building that has become located at the bottom of a sinkhole. [http://www.sciencealert.com/sweden-is-relocating-an-entire-city-to-stop-it-sinking-into-the-ground]

Moving while moving trucks are still useful is an adaptive change, moving once your property is in the bottom of a sinkhole would be mitigation after a calamity. Resilience might be shown during adaptation or mitigation but more lives and property might be saved if changes occur as adaptation rather than waiting until mitigation is necessary. Moving from a floodplain before a severe flood would be adaptation, building a house on stilts or a cyclone tolerant raft would be adaptive. Buying flood insurance might be financially resilient for the first few floods but eventually an insurance company or nation that tries to insure against flooding in a floodplain would have to realize that that is a loser’s bet and insurance is a game for gamblers rather than for long-term planners.

I’m not suggesting that I’m an expert in planning mitigation efforts or cherry plantations just that I’m a human who cares about the long term health of the planet. Quibbling about who is at fault is important for helping to identify activities that are adding to the problem and that need to be stopped or modified to be less destructive. Quibbling about blame may be a strategy to try to avoid accepting responsibility for cost of mitigation repairs or adaptive changes but eventually change happens whether it is insured against or not.

/Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and  the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Climate change is real, Exxon knew all along, now it’s time to plan and do, not just talk

Climate change has already been happening. It is past time to stop arguing about whether human activity is a cause and to start transitioning to life on a different planet. We may be uncomfortable talking about it if we feel others aren’t interested or because we don’t know much about it. [ http://michiganradio.org/post/what-keeps-people-talking-about-climate-change#stream/0 ] And we might not know much about it because we have been given misleading information about it. Some in the fossil fuel industry including Exxon has known about climate change as early as 1981 but funded disinformation research and media stories that suggested the problem wasn’t occurring or wasn’t due to human activity. [ http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/08/exxon-climate-change-1981-climate-denier-funding ][http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/04/06/3766659/fact-97-percent-climate-scientists-climate-change/]

There’s no time like the present, though, to start talking about it. Many people are going to be affected but in different ways around the planet.

Some areas that are already hot may become too hot for humans to live and work safely during more days of the year. The elderly and people with health problems or those working outside might be most at risk. Northern Africa and the Middle East may have greater than average increases in temperature compared to other areas around the world. Syria suffered a severe drought in 2011 which led to food shortages and may have been part of the cause of civil unrest in the nation that has led to ongoing fighting in the nation. [http://www.collective-evolution.com/2016/05/18/middle-east-and-north-africa-will-become-uninhabitable-due-to-climate-change/]

Increased health risks and crop and infrastructure damage can also result from more severe dust storms in dry climates. Areas in China have been experiencing loss of fertile land to desertification and an increase in dust storms that wind spreads to affect other areas in Asia as well. The dust can carry airborne disease risks. Erosion control grasses are being planted in some areas with desertification and duststorms.   [http://www.businessinsider.com/china-is-turning-into-a-desert-and-its-causing-problems-across-asia-2016-5]

Building more underground living spaces might help provide a cooler environment naturally and protection from a duststorm. Caves are always around 55’F after a certain depth – fact checker needs to look that up.

Flooding from melting glacier water is a risk in mountainous regions in several regions of the world. The type of flooding is called a glacial lake outburst flood (glof).  The water from the glacier melting collects in lakes at the top of mountain ridges. If too much water collects then surrounding rock and earth can break apart and the lake floods the valley below. is a risk at Thorthormi Glacial Lake in Bhutan. Work to prevent flooding has already been successful over several years of hand labor. The mountain top is too inaccessible to helicopters and unstable for large equipment. Shovels and shoulders are used to move boulders of rock or ice to make channels for the lake waters to drain through. It seems feasible that hydropower equipment could be set up downstream, further down the mountain from the hand digging crew. [http://www.worldpolicy.org/journal/summer2013/torrent-consequences ] [ http://climateriskmanagement.org/project-countries.php]

Annual crops that don’t tolerate changes in heat or rainwater can be replaced the next season with types of plants that are more likely to tolerate the more extreme weather conditions. Global warming is a less accurate term than climate change because wet areas are likely to bet wetter, with more extreme storms and flood risks, and dry areas are likely to get hotter and dryer with more risk of drought. Sensitive perennial crops like fruit trees can be affected by earlier thaws followed by refreezing temperatures. The trees blossom early and then the refreeze prevents the fruit from developing. Cherry crops have already been adversely affected by this problem. Climate change and cherries: It’s the pits, (Fe. 2, 2016) https://citizensclimatelobby.org/climate-change-and-cherries-its-the-pits/

Transition planning would suggest that it might be sensible to start planting some more heat tolerant types of fruit trees in the areas that are currently focused on cherry trees and to start some cherry orchards in more northern areas. As the planet warms the types of crops and animals that were once well suited to a region may no longer be able to survive there in a warmer or wetter or dryer climate. Animals might be able to migrate to new areas but fruit trees have to be planted.

Hotter summer temperatures also shorten the growing season for many crops. Soybeans and peanuts are more heat tolerant than corn. Sheep and goats are more heat tolerant and can survive on more sparse forage than cattle. People are moving into urban areas as their coastal or cropland becomes less hospitable but urban areas tend to have even hotter temperatures than rural areas and work may not be available. Staying put and trying to adapt to the changed climate by planting different crops or type of foraging animal might be safer and healthier than trying to migrate to a crowded city. [http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/climatechange/publication/turn-down-the-heat]

Disappearing coasts and bleached coral reefs are not the only issues to be considered. [http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/04/26/3769440/great-barrier-reef-bleaching/ ]  Fish and aquatic mammals are already having mysterious mass deaths in many areas. Increased temperatures combined with increasing acidity, lower oxygen levels and changes in salinity may all be factors — in addition to oil spills and other pollutants. Lack of fishing would further impact food supply shortages due to smaller crop yields. Planning ahead now could include more focus on soy and peanuts and other legume crops that are protein rich and heat tolerant.

The oceans act somewhat like kidneys for the planet by detoxifying the excess carbon dioxide absorbed from the atmosphere and like the lungs as part of the oxygen/carbon dioxide cycle. Carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere and oxygen is produced within the ocean largely by microbes but also algae and seaweeds. Over half of our atmosphere’s oxygen is produced by ocean plankton and other ocean microbes. That’s just a rough analogy to suggest how important a change in ocean acidity could be to the planet. It’s not just fish on our dinner plate at stake (pun not intended) or the oysters and clams on the half shell but it is also the air we breath our oxygen at stake.

This is a topic that is already impacting lives lets start planning and transitioning to the changing world using sustainable low energy cost methods. Investing in people power and working on strategies for the long term. Rafts built into designs where there’s now beachfront living would be a water-world style transition. Building things starts with ideas and eventually to blueprints and shovels.

The carbon dioxide build up will last for centuries, and increase as we keep adding more to the air. The oceans absorption of carbon dioxide reduces the level in the atmosphere and buffers changes in the global temperature but at the cost of increased  ocean acidity in addition to increased ocean temperature.

The following  is a short article but gets to the point with the title:  “We could be seeing the worst case scenario for climate change now.” [http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericmack/2016/05/18/we-could-be-living-through-the-worst-case-scenario-right-now/]

We are already near a 1.5’C average temperature increase. Coral reef bleaching is happening regularly. The glacier and ice sheet melting has been more rapid than anticipated.

Let’s start doing and planning ahead rather than talk about whether climate change exists. What caused it is still an important discussion and topic for ongoing research and data collection by teams around the world because we also need to stop adding to the problem. A 4’C increase by 2100 is predicted to have worse impact than the goal of keeping warming to 2’C but 4’C would be the estimated outcome if we continue at our current rate of carbon dioxide production.

/Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and  the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./