Tag Archives: Adaptation

Relaunch of Adaptiveness and Innovation Blog

Yes, we are relaunching! For a couple of months in 2009, the Stockholm Resilience Centre hosted a small conference blog for the Amsterdam 2009 Conference on Earth System Governance. We posted a number of phone and Skype-interviews with prominent scholars in the field of earth system science and governance, with the ambition to explore the role of governance, institutions, networks and organizations in building adaptive capacity, and supporting innovation in an era of global environmental change.

After a quite successful experimental phase, we now move into the relaunch phase. That means: more blogposts, more authors, and (hopefully) a larger audience. The writing team now consists of an interesting mix of scientists ranging from resilience science, development studies, and network theory, to transition and innovation research. See the blog here, and meet the new team here.

This short animated interview with myself, pretty much summarizes what we intend to do with this digital platform. Enjoy!

Postdoctoral research opportunity in Climate Change Adaptation

Postdoctoral research opportunity in Climate Change Adaptation

Complex challenges for resilience under climatic uncertainties

The successful applicant will be part of an interdisciplinary team of researchers focused on integrating debates on climate change impacts, vulnerability, resilience, and ethics.

The overall goal of this position is to assist in research on social-ecological dynamics and thresholds that are likely to determine successful adaptation, livelihood transformations, and environmentally-induced migration in the developing world (particularly Africa), as well as creative climate learning and communication tools. The applicant is expected to contribute to university-wide discussions regarding potential interdisciplinary educational programs on climate change, including international research and training partnerships and service learning/study abroad programs. The applicant is also expected to take a leadership role in preparation of manuscripts for publication and contribute to the organization of climate-related events. Penn State has extensive opportunities for collaboration across the natural and social sciences.

The successful applicant must have a mix of expertise in climate science, development, and resilience thinking. Moreover, the applicant must be able to work in an interdisciplinary collaborative setting, have experience working in a different cultural environment, have excellent communication and writing skills, and demonstrate evidence of ability to publish in scientific journals.

The position is for one year with possibility for renewal for a second year. The salary and benefits package are competitive.

Applicants should submit (electronically) a cover letter; curriculum vitae; a one or two page statement of experience as it relates to the stated position goals; a maximum of three sample reprints/preprints (electronic versions); and names, addresses, fax numbers and e-mail addresses of three references to: Dr. Petra Tschakert, petra@psu.edu or via post to: Dr. Petra Tschakert, Department of Geography, 315 Walker Building, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802.

Complete Applications must be received by October 10, 2009 to ensure consideration. Applications, however, will be accepted until the position is filled. For further information please contact Dr. Petra Tschakert; phone 814 863-9399). Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity and the diversity of its work force. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.

Notes on desiging social-ecological systems

Pruned on the rehabilitation of degraded landscapes presents Pedreres de s’Hostal:

Pedreres de s’Hostal is a disused stone quarry on the island of Minorca, Spain. In 1994, the quarry saw its last stonecutters, and since then, the non-profit organization Líthica has been hard at work transforming this industrial landscape into a post-industrial heritage park.

Conservation Magazine’s Journal Watch reports on a recent paper Willis, S.G. et al. 2009. Assisted colonization in a changing climate: a test-study using two U.K. butterflies. Conservation Letters DOI:  10.1111/j.1755-263X.2008.00043.x, which describes a successful assisted colonization:

Based on climate models and a survey of suitable habitats, scientists introduced 500 to 600 individuals of two butterfly species to new sites in England, miles away from what were, in 1999 and 2000, the northern limits of their natural ranges. After monitoring for six years, they found that both introduced populations grew and expanded their turf from the point of release, similarly to newly colonized natural areas.

The butterflies’ success outside of their usual limits suggests that their naturally shifting distributions had been lagging behind the pace of climate warming, the researchers conclude. The results also bode well for the careful use of this sometimes controversial technique for other species threatened by climate change. After all, wildlife can only run so fast and for those species moving up mountains to escape the heat, there’s only so far they can go.

MacArthur Foundation granting $2 million to help ecosystems and human communities adapt to the effects of climate change. On Gristmill:

the IUCN and the World Wildlife Fund — will use it to establish a new Ecosystems and Livelihoods Adaptation Network. Details on the network are still being hashed out, but it’s intended to be a resource for promoting best practices to conservation groups, governments, and others. It will aid projects such as creating protected corridors to help mountain-dwelling animals migrate to higher elevations and restoring natural barriers on coastlines, such as mangrove forests.

On Gristmill, futurist Jamais Cascio posts his recent reflections on geo-engineering in response to the detailed comparison between different geoengineering strategies a writes Geoengineering is risky but likely inevitable, so we better start thinking it through:

If we start to see faster-than-expected increases in temperature, deadly heat waves and storms, crop failures and drought, the pressure to do something will be enormous. Desperation is a powerful driver. Desperation plus a (relatively) low-cost response, coupled with quick (if not necessarily dependable) benefits, can become an unstoppable force.

If we don’t want to see geoengineering deployed, we have to get our carbon emissions down as rapidly and as widely as possible. If we don’t — if our best efforts aren’t enough against decades of carbon growth and temperature inertia — we will see efforts to do something, anything, to avoid global catastrophe.

On Worldchanging Alex Steffen argues that Geoengineering Megaprojects are Bad Planetary Management:

Many of us oppose geoengineering megaprojects, not because we are afraid of science or technology (indeed, most bright green environmentalists believe you can’t win this fight without much more science and technology), but because these kinds of megaprojects are bad planetary management.

It’s bad planetary management to take big chances with a high probability of “epic fail” outcomes (like emptying the sea of life through ocean acidification). It’s bad planetary management to build large, singular and brittle projects when small, multiple and resilient answers exist and will suffice if employed. It’s bad planetary management to assume that this time — unlike essentially every other large-scale intervention in natural systems in recorded history — we’ll get it right and pull it off without unintended consequences.

Jamais and Alex debate their points a bit in the WorldChanging comments.

The sustainability of improving living standards

Australian economist John Quiggin writes on The sustainability of improving living standards in a world of climate change. He discusses responses to the Stern Review on the economics of climate change. In particular, its conclusion that stabilizing at the atmosphere at 500 ppm CO2 equivalent in 2050 would result have same size economy as would otherwise have been reached in 2048.

Stern’s optimistic view that CO2 emissions could be greatly reduced without a corresponding reduction in living standards is rejected by critics beginning from two diametrically opposed positions. Although deeply hostile to each other, the two groups find some surprising common ground.

The first group are ‘Deep Green’ pessimists who see the end of consumer capitalism as both inevitable and desirable. At least since the reports of the Club of Rome in the 1970s, members of this group have argued that continued economic growth is inherently unsustainable. …

The mirror image of Deep Green pessimism is that of the ‘Dark Brown’ pessimists who say that we should do nothing to stabilise the climate because to do so will wreck our standards of living. Dark Brown commentators from thinktanks like the Competitive Enterprise Institute warn of ruinous economic consequences even from modest first steps such as the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. …

Both groups engage in a fair bit of wishful thinking about their position, the Greens arguing that we’ll all be happier in the long run and the Browns claiming that the environmental problems will solve themselves if we ignore them. But these opposing claims are secondary to the shared presumption that economic growth depends on increasing exploitation of the natural environment and, in particular, on the burning of fossil fuels.

Underlying both Deep Green and Dark Brown positions is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of economic progress and of economic activity in a modern society. The concept of economic growth is so firmly embedded in our thinking that we forget it is just a metaphor. The idea of growth implies physical expansion, and any process of physical expansion has limits. …

The public-good nature of information explains how economic progress can continue without additional resources. Most obviously, improvements in information technology allow more and faster communication which in turn allows for yet more technological improvements. There is no apparent indication of diminishing marginal returns in this field; if anything the opposite. …

Despite the claims of Dark Browns and Deep Greens, we can, if we choose, have both a stable climate and steadily improving standards of living throughout the world. But the fact that we can achieve these things does not mean we will. At this stage, failure seems all too possible, as does a half-hearted response that will imply the need for much more costly action in the future.

While I am relatively optimistic about the ability of human society to successfully adapt and mitigate climate change I am worried that:

  1. Economic growth is not being decoupled from its use of global ecosystems, and
  2. Estimates of the costs of climate change fails to consider that we are substantially reducing the ability of the biosphere to adapt to climate change, which will have unknown but likely substantial negative impacts on human wellbeing.