The Sunday Storm

Welcome to our new feature – The Sunday Storm, (which may also become Tuesday Two, or Friday Four, depending on whatever alliteration feels right), where we sum up and throw some half-baked opinions out at the climate world, and have some fun in the process.

1) It’s all kicking off this week as negotiators meet in Bonn to discuss the next big climate agreement. In what might be regarded as the most important (and perhaps one of the most dysfunctional) conversations in history, everything is leading up to what we hope will be a historic deal to be signed in Paris next year. The next week is one of a series of meetings aimed at getting down a draft good enough that by Paris 2015, it will be a matter of hammering out the details, everyone will sign up and the entire world will begin a confident and rapid transition to a low-carbon economy, sending money in vast amounts to the developing world to develop climate resilience, and putting aside a healthy pot for emergencies caused by climate change influenced natural disasters.

Sounds good doesn’t it? It’s got a real uniting for good against a global threat, brotherhood of man, putting our differences aside, let climate change take us to a new level of human understanding vibe to it, no? Like Independence Day, or Mars Attacks. Even Vivienne Westwood cut off her hair to support the cause. So that’s… nice.

ImageBut let’s face it. No one thinks that’s really going to happen. Not quickly, anyway. As it has over the course of the last few years, country self interest will (probably) reign supreme, and the only real driver of positive movement is the begrudging acceptance that the climate is really a big deal, and that something really does have to be done about it. This week the hot topic is an emissions deal that will compel countries to begin cutting their emissions. There will be adaptation stuff, but this blog being an adaptation blog, you’ll have to settle for reading this for more info.

2)  Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UNFCCC, has been writing and speaking to anyone who will listen in the build up to these talks, saying that the floods in Somerset had a “silver lining” in that climate change has been raised to the highest political level, which really upset the Daily Mail in the UK, and particularly conservative MP Ian Liddell-Grainger, who, in what we can only assume was a rage so blind he hasn’t heard the Defense Secretary, Lord Stern, the Adaptation Group of the UK Climate Change Committee, the farmers in his constituency and the scientific consensus and the sweeping tide of unavoidable history, said, “Apart from anything else, what she says is absolute rubbish. There is no evidence this is anything to do with climate change.”

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She also said that it was amoral for anyone to take a politically partisan approach to climate change, because of its impact on climate change. Political conflict being a running theme of this blog, Adapted Planet wholeheartedly disagrees. Climate change as a scientific fact might be (mostly) indisputable (the debate about man-made / not man-made is really boring, and as it happens, with respect to adaptation, pointless), but climate adaptation is decidedly partisan. Adaptation programs that affect peoples lives are, by that fact alone, subject to dissent, opinions, vested interests and power-struggles. These issues should not be branded as amoral, but embraced as necessary, and ultimately, proper engagement will bring better results. 

Action on climate change is NOT a technical exercise in planning and administration. It requires engagement, open debate and empowering discourse.

3) While we’re on the topic of stuff Christiana Figueres said this week, she also said we need to cut down on “weirdo words” (like say, carbon sequestration, or “low-carbon resilient development”) in climate change. Climate change as an industry definitely has a communication problem. There are so many , funding units, boards, meetings, working groups and scientific terms that even the most proficient bureaucrat is at risk of being reduced to a quivering mess of acronyms and abbreviations. All of this, says Figueres, undermines action on climate change.

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She’s right, but for the wrong reasons. It undermines climate change because if you can’t engage with the debate, then you don’t have a say. Weirdo Words and jargon are anti-democratic. The problem – climate change is complex, and requires nuanced understanding, for which you need, well, a bit of weirdo wordplay. (More on this coming in a post soon).

And finally…

4) An ancient virus has been resurrected in the cold of Siberia having been thawed out by a changing climate … which is, ahem …”chilling” news (sorry). The sci-fi geek in all of us should be afraid that this is a plausible beginning to the Zombie Apocalypse, (virus mutates, scientist turns up in Siberian town and collapses, Russian troops secretly travelling to the Ukraine become infected, virus spreads etc etc,). So you can add that to the list of climate risks, obviously, 

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Follow @adaptedplanet and watch this space for the outcomes and implications for adaptation from this weeks talks, and other adaptation based curiosities.

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