Identifying Suitable Trees For Urban Heat Management In Face Of Global Warming

by Deniz Korman

Global ambient temperatures keep rising year by year, and urban areas specifically experience higher temperatures compared to rural areas due to lower vegetation coverage and increased emissions. An effective strategy to counteract this problem is to expand green spaces and improve urban forestry. However, it is important to ensure that the greenery that we integrate into our cities can withstand changing climate conditions as ambient temperatures keep increasing at a rate faster than ever. Lanza and Stone (2016) focus on how global warming has affected the climate conditions around 20 highly populated metropolitan areas in USA, and the impact that this has had on present tree species. Continue reading

The Impact of Climate Change on Aedes aegypti Behavior in Latin America and the Caribbean

by Shannon O’Neill

Climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has impacted precipitation and temperatures, which have been associated with increases in seasonal outbreaks of dengue fever. However, such correlations are often speculative due to the complexity of interactions involved in vector-borne diseases. Researchers Chadee and Martinez (2015) focused on the adaptive behaviors of the Aedes aegypti mosquito in efforts to fill some of the research gaps typically associated with the research of these diseases. This mosquito is a successful vector for various vector-borne diseases, including dengue fever, Zika virus, and chikungunya, and has shown adaptive behaviors. This research will provide the information to create better vector control strategies that can be applied in order to limit climate change impacts on the resurgence of these diseases. Continue reading

Climate Change Threatens the Javanese Way of Life

 

by Blaine Williams

In the face of climate change and rising sea levels, atolls––rings of islands formed by coral reefs––are some of the most vulnerable human-inhabited regions. In the atoll of Ontong Java, the world’s largest atoll, climate change has begun to affect the quality of life for the locals, and will create more hardship in the years to come. The highest point of the Ontong Java atoll is 10 feet above sea level, and with sea levels rising at a rate of a few millimeters a year, the islands are losing more and more land to the ocean. Faced with issues such as irregular weather patterns and imminent land loss, a key struggle for the inhabitants of Ontong Java is adapting to these changes and attempting to take them in stride. Continue reading

Are Major U.S. Cities Doomed by Rising Sea Levels?

by Pushan Hinduja

As climate change becomes more and more of a threat, people around the world worry about the fate of US coastal cities that might one day be entirely submerged. Matthew E. Kahn, a visiting professor of economics and spatial science at the University of Southern California argues that these cities shouldn’t worry, as they will adapt and rise above the effects of climate change. Khan begins by citing a Rolling Stone article published in 2013 that predicted Miami, “the nation’s urban fantasy land” turning into an “American Atlantis.” Interestingly enough, this threat is not unique to Miami: the majority of Americans live within 50 miles of an ocean, whether that be in New York, Seattle, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, among many more. An economist by training, Khan argues that based on his understanding of how people invest their money during times of crisis and uncertainty, US coastal cities will successfully adapt to climate change and thus be “just fine.”

To be more specific, coastal city residents and firms are currently all aware that the dangers of rising sea levels are imminent. As a result, there is a huge market incentive for adaptation and the development of innovative solutions to these problems. Additionally, thanks to the “invisible hand,” homeowners will feel the pressure to take self-interest and protect their properties as best as they can to try to maintain value. Khan compares this to the increase in research in the pharmaceutical industry when there is expected demand for a certain drug.

In terms of actual adaptation to the rising sea levels, cities around the US will employ a variety of different tactics, ranging from the upgrading of existing structures to construction of new climate change-resilient structures using modular materials. Khan argues that the rising demand for these new developments will recruit young and new talent into the field, which will lower overhead costs for adaptation, ultimately making the whole system even more sustainable. Another key component of adaptation to climate change is the ability to move to “higher ground.” Khan argues that loss of land due to rising sea levels will not reduce the population in an urban area, because of the ability to retreat and develop on lower risk high ground.

Coastal cities as America’s economic hubs won’t be affected either, as the “physical place” is not what defines an economic hub; instead it is the human capital that clusters in any specific location that makes that place an economic hub. Thus rising sea levels may cause the economic hubs to change locations, perhaps only slightly, but will not negatively harm the U.S. economy.

Ultimately, Khan argues that although rising sea levels due to climate change will play an important role in defining coastal cities in the future, it will not render them underwater wastelands. In fact, US coastal cities will undergo a renaissance of “market-driven adaptation” that will cause both the economy and the population that currently resides in these ‘high threat’ areas to thrive.

Kahn, Matthew E., 2016. Rising Sea Levels Won’t Doom U.S. Coastal Cities. Harvard Business Review.

https://hbr.org/2016/01/rising-sea-levels-wont-doom-u-s-coastal-cities

 

Social norms and preferences towards climate change policies: A meta-analysis

by Sam Peterson

While climate change consensus has been growing in the last two decades, response to the alarming effects of it has not kept pace. There are various explanations for this societal inertia, including misinformation, lack of trust in government, and knowledge gaps (Norgaard 2009). Alló et. al. (2014) examined, by way of meta-analysis, preferences regarding climate change action based on factors incorporating social norms and temporal restrictions in different countries. The study assessed data from completed analyses regarding climate change action preferences and measured several dependent variables, including whether the study proposed mitigation or adaptation strategies, households’ willingness to pay (WTP), and forms of monetary support proposed by the included studies. Alló concludes that mitigation actions are preferred over adaptation actions, countries with long-term outlooks have higher WTP, and preferable policies encourage the prevention of disasters, like heat waves, as opposed to creation of and investment in greener technologies. Continue reading

The Psychology Behind Climate-Related Inaction

by Emily Segal

Though many people agree that climate change is a pressing issue in today’s world, very few of those people actually change their behavior to remedy this. In some cases there are structural factors limiting their ability to make decisions that would reduce their ecological footprint. For example, people on a low-income budget might not have the extra money to install solar panels. However, for those who are not restricted by structural factors, adaptation to a more sustainable lifestyle is not currently accepted on the scale it must be if those same people are serious about reducing climate change. Psychologist Robert Gifford suggests that there are three main reasons behind this inaction. Ignorance first will hinder people from altering their behavior because they are not aware of the problem at all. Secondly, once one becomes aware of the problem, various psychological processes may prohibit action. Lastly, after some action is taken, the person may think their action establishes they have done their part to reduce climate change when in reality they have not done enough, or they have done something that is counterproductive. To better understand this disconnect between awareness and lack of action, Gifford further divided the three main reasons behind inaction into seven psychological barriers preventing people from doing what they should in order to truly reduce climate change. Continue reading

Nigerian Yam Farmers Adaptation to Climate Change

by Alex Nuffer

Many farmers in the Ekiti State of Nigeria rely on the production of yams for their livelihood and food security. With the increasing rate of extreme weather events, such as flooding and drought, the productivity of the yams are unstable, which leads to crop failure. The yam farmers’ adaptation to climate change is essential in order to maintain their own and Ekiti’s well being. Strategies have been formulated to cope with changing climatic conditions, but are inhibited by lack of wealth, technology, education, infrastructure, resource availability, and sound management practices. There needs to be an effort on the national scale to make the farmers’ adaptation to climate change a top priority. Oluwasusi (2013) investigated the Ekiti State yam farmers’ ability to adapt to variations in the climate by assessing the socio-economic characteristics of the farmers, farmers’ constraints, farmers’ strategies to adaption, and the yam yield in the years 2008–2010. Continue reading