The Need for Social Sciences in Climate Policy

by Becky Strong

In 2015, David G. Victor, a professor of international relations at the University of California, San Diego wrote about the importance of looking into the social sciences when seeking to implement policies about climate change. Victor believes that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has become irrelevant to climate policy due to its focus on only the most well-known facts about climate change and avoidance of controversy.
He believes that in order to find insights that truly matter regarding climate change, one must look beyond the natural sciences. Continue reading

Adapting to Climate Change Through Migration

by Becky Strong

In 2006, Robert McLeman and Barry Smit from the Department of Geography at the University of Guelph wrote an article investigating migration as a possible adaptation to climate change, presenting conceptual models, and discussing the migration patterns of people from Eastern Oklahoma in the 1930s. Citing sociology, geography, and other social science sources. They examined theories of human migration behavior and analyzed concepts such as vulnerability, risk exposure, and adaptive capacity all theories developed within the climate change research community. While there is notable historical evidence linking human migration and climate change, it is not considered an automatic response and is influenced by many different factors. This notion can be traced back to Hippocrates and Aristotle who believed that humans determined the habitability of an area based on the characteristics of the natural environment and that they were shaped by these characteristics. Continue reading

Improving Food Yield in Africa

by Tyler Dean

According to an article in Appropriate Technology in 2014, climate change is predicted to increase the number of malnourished people in Sub-Saharan Africa by nearly forty percent by 2050, from the current 22 million, to 355 million. In East and Central Africa, suitable areas for growing beans could decline up to eighty percent, while areas suitable for growing bananas could decline twenty-five percent. In aggregate, climate change will severely lower crop yields by adversely affecting the length of the growing season and rainfall. It is crucial for African farmers to switch to “climate- smart agriculture”(CSA). CSA will increase resilience by allowing farmers to adapt to climate change and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The government has implemented monitored subsidy programs, consultants and aggregators in order to improve production and instill confidence in Africa’s farmers. Continue reading

Using Cloud Computing to Monitor Climate Change

by Tyler Dean

The department of Biomedical Engineering at the Adhiyamaan College of Engineering has proposed a system that provides monitoring benefits to a large number of users by deploying a collection of observed data over a long period of time. The system uses a combination of advanced technologies to collect comprehensible environmental data that can be accessed from any location online. The system requires sensors for air pollution, temperature and humidity of a selected place. The data acquisition system acquires the data of temperature, humidity, pollution of air including Illumination, dust, carbon dioxide, ultraviolet, wind direction, wind speed, air pressure and the altitude from remote sensing areas .The system can be used for intrusion detection, used to remotely monitor the conditions of a place, to determine the habitat of a place and to field conditions to specify which cultivation is suitable for a region. Continue reading

Climate Change and Its Effect on Human Health.

by Tyler Dean

Anththropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are leading to climate changes in temperature, precipitation, humidity and/or wind patterns(Natural clmate forcing also contribute to this). Climate changes yeild environmental effects that cause adaptation and health effects. The environtmental effects include: change in frequency, severity and geography of extreme weather events, ecosystem changes on land and sea that effect numerous species, rises in sea level that cause storm surges and salination of costal land and freshwater, and environmental degradation on land, costal ecosystems and fisheries. The health effects include: thermal stress that causes deaths, illness and injury from floods, storms, cyclones and bush fires (thermal stresses also effect food yields), microbial proliferation that leads to food poisoning and unsafe drinking water, increase in vector-pathogen-
host relations and in infectious disease geography/seasonality, impaired crops, livestock and fisheries yield that leads to impaired nutrition, health, survival and loss of livelihood that leads to poverty and adverse health such as mental health, infectious diseases, malnutrition and other physical risks. The easiest to define climate-health relationships are related to heat waves. The harder to define climate-health relationships are from “changes in regional food yields, disruption of fisheries, loss of livelihoods, and population displacement (because of sea-level rise, water shortages, etc).” The results from this research on climate change and its effect on future human health represent an imperative contribution to international and national policy debates. 

McMichael, AJ & Woodruff, RE Climate Change and Human Health: Present and Future Risks Lancet 367.68079-3 (2006): 859-69.

Meshing Opposing Methods of Climate Change Measurement

by Tyler Dean

Camille Parmesan and Gary Yohe describe the reasoning and results of the IPCC’s method of measuring the fingerprint of climate change. Their goal was to “improve communication, provide common ground for discussion, and give a comprehensive summary of the evidence.” The IPCC’s method mitigates the result abnormality from the opposing methods and views of biologists and economists by implementing both of their techniques into IPCC’s. The need for the IPCC’s approach comes from both of the existing results being beneficial, but flawed to the point that citizens, readers and policy makers must remain dubious of the results. Economists focus on direct evidence, in the moment and apply time discounting in order to account for their lack of quality control. From this, they conclude that climate change is only important if it is responsible for the current biotic changes; which leads economists to the conclusion that climate change’s fingerprint is weak. Continue reading

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