Overcoming The North-South Divide in Climate Change Research and Policy

by Claudia Chandra

Nature Climate Change published a research paper in January 2017 by Malgorzata Blicharska and her associates from countries including Brazil, Kenya, Sweden, South Africa and India. The paper discusses the global North-South divide in climate change research, policy and practice, which originates from the Southern countries’ smaller capacity to undertake research. Countries are categorized into either “Northern” (members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development such as Europe, North America, East Asia and Australasia) or “Southern” (lower income economies such as Asia, Latin America and Africa.) The report highlights how the disparities that exist between Northern and Southern countries, in terms of science and knowledge, will become a greater hindrance to the development and practice of effective climate change reduction actions and policies. The researchers explore the extent of this particular North-South divide, study the underlying issues associated with it, and examine the potential consequences for climate change policy development and implementation. Continue reading

Relationships Among Gender, Science, and Glaciers

by Becky Strong

In 2016, Mark Carey, M. Jackson, Alessandro Antonello, and Jaclyn Rushing from the University of Oregon wrote an article discussing the relationships among gender, science, and glaciers, a topic which they believe is understudied. Glaciers play a major role in climate change, and the authors believe that their common representations have removed their social and cultural context, leaving them to be portrayed as nothing more than “simplified climate change yardsticks and thermometers” (Carey et al. 2016). Continue reading

The Effects of Climate Change on California Tourism

by Owen Dubeck

The chapter “Tourism and Recreation,” from Climate Change in California, explains the economic impact climate change will have on California tourism. The $96 Billion industry is divided into three parts, beaches, winter recreation, and outdoor recreation. While all three sectors will see economic losses from climate change, the article also discusses the less talked-about advantages. With rapidly melting glaciers causing rising sea levels, California’s coastlines are susceptible to the largest economic consequences. Scientists predict that rising water levels will reduce beach widths in Southern California by 62 feet. Smaller beaches mean lower attendance, which will hurt local economies. Temporary efforts to cover up the consequences of climate change include moving in more sand via dump trucks. Rising sea levels will cause Huntington Beach to invest $16 million in beach nourishment. However, this sea level rise would not affect Laguna Beach adversely. Instead, they would actually save money. Continue reading

Why Environmental Science Needs the Humanities

by Emily Segal

In the past, those working to combat environmental problems were generally thought of as natural scientists utilizing technology, economics, and policy to come up with solutions for reducing and preventing climate change. The truth is that humanist thinkers were an integral part of the first phase of the environmental revolution. They were early journalists, philosophers and historians writing and thinking about the environment and its relation to human beings. It seems that over time, these humanities scholars were pushed aside and took a back seat to natural scientists and economists who were at the front of the environmentalist movement. Continue reading

Two new books from CloudRipper Press

Front Cover 6x9 border EI2015              Front Cover CC&TH

by Emil Morhardt

CloudRipperPress.com announces its second and third books published in 2015.

Energy Innovations 2015

Because it seems likely that there is money to be made by reducing fossil fuel use, and energy use in general, there is currently an intense amount of entrepreneurial activity surrounding all aspects of our energy supply and usage. This book is an attempt to make some sense of the overwhelming amount of information about this activity streaming down the web (and in the scientific and engineering journals). It is a result of three months in early 2015 of combing through entrepreneurial websites, news items in the press, and a variety of other sources (all well documented in the book) to see what new and exciting developments are occurring in energy.

The result is a fascinating look at the types of changes in our energy mix in the near future through over 250 vignettes of innovative energy projects, many in their earliest stages, organized by type of energy activity being considered. Sections of the book include energy efficiency, energy storage, improving the grid, novel energy applications, photovoltaics, solar thermal, hydro/tidal/wave energy, wind, geothermal, nuclear, vehicles, biofuels and synfuels, hydrogen, hydraulic fracturing, carbon sequestration, energy governance, and energy finance and economics. $19.95 at Amazon.com

Climate Change & The Humanities

In 2011 Mike Hulme published an opinion piece, Meet the Humanities, in Nature Climate Change, one of the premier scientific journals dealing with climate change. He asserted that “Although climate is inarguably changing society, social practices are also impacting on the climate. Nature and culture are deeply entangled, and researchers must examine how each is shaping the other. But they are largely failing to do so” (Hulme 2011)*. This was likely the first time that many climate scientists had thought much about the humanities as relevant to what they were studying.

This book sets out to rectify that, documenting what a broad selection of academics, journalists, artists, and others working in the humanities and social sciences have been writing about climate change recently. It consists of over 200 summaries of such works and provides a good introduction to the range of thinking about climate change addressed by non-scientists, and a good entry point to a growing literature. $19.95 at Amazon.com

*Hulme, M., 2011. Meet the humanities. Nature Climate Change 1, 177-179.

Climate Change Meets The Humanities

by Emil Morhardt

In 2011, Mike Hulme (pictured above), then Professor of Climate Change at the University of East Anglia, and a keen student of the relations between society and climate change, wrote a short commentary in the scientific journal, Nature, pointing out to his scientific audience that there was a rich ongoing technical literature about non-scientific aspects of climate change about which they might not have been aware. He cited example papers from anthropology, communications studies, ethics, historical geography, history of science, literary criticism, museum studies, philosophy, psychology, religious studies, social sciences, and sociology. He pointed out that a recent study by the Swedish researches Andreas Bjurström and Merritt Polk, which I’ll address in my next post, showed that the technical literature cited in the IPCC Third Assessment report was heavily dominated by papers from the natural sciences, while social science content was mostly economics, and humanities comment was hardly visible; as Hulme put it, the IPCC view was “…dominated by positivist disciplines at the expense of interpretive ones.” That last phrase got my attention—I had no idea what it meant, evidently a lack of sufficient training in the humanities. Hulme wrote that story-telling and art are important to the overall enterprise of increasing human understanding of climate change—not just fact-finding which occupies the bulk of scientific activities, and not just to translate the scientific results into something more accessible, but as forms of primary information in their own rights. But these are way outside the comfort zone of most scientists, who think of them as rather separate kinds of activities, and certainly unlikely to be contributing to a scientific understanding of the problem. Continue reading