Posts Tagged ‘Climate change’


Friday, December 30th, 2011

On TED, Pavan Sukhdev – who lead the TEEB initiative – explains why we need to “value nature” in order to manage it sustainably.

He ends his talk on the suggestion to focus efforts on “green” and “blue” carbon as part of climate change mitigation. Green and blue carbon is the carbon stored in terrestrial and marine ecosystems respectively.

Pavan Sukhdev tells us that he strongly supports the REDD+ mechanisms, whereby emitting countries fund projects in forested countries that avoid deforestation and/or forest degradation. There is a lot of potential there for synergies between carbon sequestration goals and the continued provision of other ecosystem services (and biodiversity).

Concerning blue carbon, it is interesting to note how he explains that we, collectively, have made the ethical choice to lose coral reefs through unmitigated climate change. It was probably an implicit choice, but it is quite revealing that Pavan Sukhdev and TEEB recognize that there are critical thresholds of biodiversity and ecosystem service loss. Those thresholds can be ecological (to avoid extinction or complete loss) or social but they certainly define the boundaries of our future life support system. Good debates to be had there…

I’ll never use anything but New Mexico piñon in my candy!

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

David D. Breshears, Laura López-Hoffman and Lisa J. Graumlich published an interesting paper in the journal AMBIO on adaptation to sudden ecosystem crashes that strongly affect the delivery of ecosystem services.

They argue that climate change might lead to increasingly frequent events of sudden, large and patchy ecosystem crashes were ecosystems undergo important changes in their structure and functioning. Because the particular timing, location and intensity of ecosystem crashes are generally unpredictable, and that ecosystems can rarely be made resistant to crashes (by definition), stakeholders will have to adapt to the consequences of ecosystem crashe if, when and where they occur.

The authors explore how a recent drought-induced tree die-off of piñon – juniper woodlands across the SW United States has altered the capacity of these woodlands to support human well-being. They relate scientific studies of drought impacts on the ecology of these woodlands and accounts in the media of how stakeholders are being impacted and are responding to these impacts.

The authors suggest that increasing stakeholder resilience to sudden losses of ecosystem services varies according to how strictly the particular ecosystem services are tied to particular location. They introduce the concept of “portability” to describe the degree to which an ecosystem service is tied to a particular location.

It is crucial to understand how dependency on certain types of ecosystem services may shape stakeholder flexibility in choice of location and in turn their adaptive capacity

As an example, piñon nuts are a portable service (with some limits) while the view from someone’s home is not – but this also depends on how flexible people are in terms of home location. Ecosystem service portability must be analyzed in conjunction with stakeholder or beneficiary’s mobility: i.e. how location-flexible rather than location-centric they are.

A famed Albuquerque candy makers says ‘‘I’ll never use anything but New Mexico piñon in my candy. I won’t go to the Chinese pine nut or the Nevada pine nut because it isn’t right. That would be like selling Native American jewelry that was made in Hong Kong”

The paper introduces two concepts – ecosystem service portability and stakeholder flexibility – that are interesting to consider in analyses of vulnerability to climate change in general, and of adaptation options to specific changes in ecosystem properties in particular. Stakeholder flexibility must of course be investigated in conjunction with ecosystem service substitutability: can a cactus replace your beloved piñon in your backyard?

What about glacial melt in the Andes?

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Following the debate on the IPCC’s mistake on the future of Himalayan glaciers, and their statement (see previous post), the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) has asked its scientists to offer their perspective on glacial melt in the Andes. The report is available here (pdf).

In summary, most glaciers are shrinking and although some may survive and others disappear (particularly in tropical and subtropical regions) the key message is that people who depend on rivers fed by glaciers and snow must already learn to adapt to changes in seasonal water flows.

Global Procrastination

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

A recent dust storm in the city of Sydney provides armageddon-like images of nature's wrath (AAP: Tracey Nearmy, found on ABC News)

A new label was suggested for global warming and associated global change in a comment by Bubbles on the New Scientist magazine’s blog: Global Procrastination…

Sounds good. Of course, other commentators suggested alternative labels such as “Global Scaremongering”.