and the use of Social inventions

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WMO: Coping with a changing climate
and the use of Social inventions

March 25, 2011

Geneva, Switzerland



Michael H. Glantz

Consortium for Capacity Building (CCB)

University of Colorado, Boulder




First thoughts




DRAFT as of February 8, 2011




Supported by the Rockefeller Foundation



and


A Clinton Global Initiative Commitment 2008

Planet Earth is now Global Warming’s “Ground zero”

no place to hide

Seems governments
are choosing option (a)

(a)

(b)


(c)




In industrial and
agrarian societies




On all continents




Where humans and
ecosystems meet




Especially in
vulnerable ecosystems

There are also inequities with regard to animals and other living things


We must account for climate
-
related EQUITY

“All roads lead to Rome”

“Render unto Caesar …”


Often, damages to life and property
that occur during extreme events
are blamed on Nature.


However, it is often not the case.


A portion of those damages can be
placed on human activities that put
societies in harm’s way, and …


We must sort out the proper
causes for the various damages, so
that appropriate responses can be
made to address those true causal
factors.

The Challenge:

Reaching Every Element of Civil Society

Linking or Sinking

link scientific concerns about the future with local societal concerns today


Communicating with civil society

about the importance of awareness
of climate change and it foreseeable
impacts is a central factor in making
climate change science research
findings science that is usable by
society, eg, usable science

Social inventions


Ideas and concepts that
change human behavior.

What is a Social Invention?



A social invention is a new [concept], law,
organization or procedure that changes the
ways in which people relate to themselves
or to each other, either individually or
collectively.



Examples: Resilient adaptation, low
-
carbon society,
green Revolution, circle of poison, pathological
bureaucracy, virtual water, ecosystem goods and
services, tipping points, nature’s bank, blue carbon
sinks, clean coal, dead zones, CEPs, ripple effect,
climate refugees, win
-
win, zero sum game, drought
follows the plow, forecasting by analogy, green
economy, ignore
-
ance, satisfice,

Social Invention Examples

Global Change

The Blue Marble

The Space Age

Social e
-
networks

http://clairewaghorn.wordpress.com/

Spaceship Earth

Foreseeability


"FORESEEABLE RISK, i.e., risks whose consequences
a person of ordinary prudence would reasonably
expect might occur…



In tort law… a party's 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.“



"Foreseeability encompasses not only that which
the defendant foresaw, but that which the
defendant ought to have foreseen."


(Gifis, 1991)

Focus on AOCs

Not on Hotspots!

HOTSPOTS Pyramid

Decisionmaking under foreseeability

To run or not to run a stop sign? That is the question.

Forecasting by analogy

climate
-
related impacts



This method compares
events that have had a similar
effect in the recent past to the
likely impact of future events
associated with climate
change, assuming that lessons
can be learned from such past
experience and then applied
to future situations.



These compared situations
can generally share several
important characteristics
such as time scale, severity,
reversibility, impacted sector,
or aggravating factors, and
point out how well actual
adaptation response worked
or did not work.

Definitions of adaptation



UNFCCC: adaptation refers
to climate change related
impacts



UNFCCC 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


Seasonality

global warming & “acclimatizing” seasons: Seasons aren’t what they used to be!


(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.

Adaptation

{
no recommendations without SWOC ramifications
}


Recommendations 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 consider


“mitigating the impacts of 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).

Some living things can’t adapt

Rates of change are as important as the change itself

The future is arriving …

earlier than expected!

2020 is the new 2050

Creeping environmental change

{Everything we touch}

Focus on creeping changes and rates
of change instead of searching for a
“dread factor” to spark policy
changes.

X

Rates of change can be as important as the magnitude of change

Ecosystems good & services …











for human well being



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.


Social Dimension of Climate Change versus
Climate Dimension of Social Change:

what’s driving what?

Do you get the same answer?



A popular phrase is “the
social dimension of climate
change.”



Yet, society is also
changing and many aspects
of its changes affect the
global climate.



As a result, I believe we
should use the phrase “the
climate dimension of social
change.”

Definitions of 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 do know what it isn’t !

Dynamite

fishing

in the

Philippines

Defining resilient adaptation


A process that is a flexible,
incremental approach to
adjusting to and coping with
the foreseeable adverse (or
beneficial impacts) of an
uncertain changing climate.





………………


Identify indicators to evaluate
a societal adaptation act or
process if it meets explicit
criteria that shows that the act
is resilient.



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

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?

wake up cat video

Early warnings about …

early warning systems

Shanghai Harbor

2004

1988

Climate is not the only thing that is changing

Storms in Space

no place on the planet to hide

Late Warning Systems are as important as
early warning systems

Escaping forest fire, Russia.

Facebook video

Improvization

Situational responses to a quick onset environmental change



Yangtze River Floods, 1999: Is this societal resilience?

This is improvization.

Lessons learned about lessons learned …
about the disasters


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.

Isn’t Hindsight an aspect of Foresight?

The Question:

Does climate 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 and changing
climate future.

Climate
-
related ideas …

that demand better understanding



1.
Climate
-
proofing

2.
Food security

3.
Ground zero

4.
Deniers

5.
Extremes

6.
The verb “to be”

7.
Ecosystems goods & services

8.
Drivers (of change)

9.
Mitigation (of greenhouse gas emissions)

10.
Adaptation (to climate change)

11.
Geo
-
engineering

12.
Purposely changing the atmosphere’s thermostat

My view

on Climate
-
related ideas …


that demand better understanding



1.
Climate
-
proofing
---

misleading

2.
Food security
---

misnomer

3.
Ground zero
---

misfocused

4.
Deniers
---

misapplied

5.
Extremes
---

misdirected

6.
The verb “is”
---

misused

7.
Ecosystems goods & services
---

misconception

8.
Drivers (of change)
---

misdirecting

9.
Mitigation (of greenhouse gas emissions)
---

misarticulated

10.
Adaptation (to climate change)
---

misunderstood

11.
Geo
-
engineering
---

misadventure

12.
Purposely changing the atmosphere’s thermostat
---

misguided

Many Plan B’
s

but there is no Planet B !!