Category Archives: Climate adaptation
Earlier this year I had an assignment investigating the links between climate change and weather. In the course of the reporting I talked to a Yale pollster who says last year’s extraordinary weather — dry and drought-like or rainy and flooded in most places — has done more to convince people that the climate is indeed changing than any number of increasingly urgent reports like this one from the OECD.
For the story, I spoke with climate scientists too, and learned about efforts to better pinpoint when rising global temperatures play a role in a particular extreme of weather. It’s a still evolving area of science. Controversy rages. Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, has perhaps most riled his colleagues — not to mention climate change contrarians and non-believers — by suggesting that today global warming should be considered a factor in all weather. Not all climate scientists agree — one even called it a “crap idea” in a major UK newspaper! But Trenberth hasn’t backed off. He elaborates on the idea in a new article due out this spring.
You can read all about this (and much more!) in my just published cover story in E Magazine. There’s also a sidebar on the impact to harvests and water supplies if the world remains on its current trajectory toward 10+ degrees Fahrenheit of warming.
If you still have time, check out my piece on Italy’s growing woes with the “ecomafia.”
In this year’s Solar Decathlon wrapped up earlier this month with 19 homes – more than half of which cost less than $300,000 to build. Affordability was one of the 10 categories on which the homes are judged this year in the biannual competition pitting universities from around the United States and a few foreign countries. The new cost/affordability bar, which replaced the lighting contest, inspired the student designers to drive down the cost considerably. According to the event’s sponsor, U.S. Department of Energy, this year’s houses were about 33 percent cheaper this year than those that competed two years ago. “Solar for less” was just one of the industry trends reflected in this year’s entries.
Read my story in Architecture Week.
I encountered this lovely butterfly on my front walkway Saturday morning, nearly crushing the disabled creature underfoot. It didn’t fly away and apparently couldn’t though there seemed nothing wrong with it. Perhaps it was just tuckered out from migrating south for the winter. At any event, I moved it over to the grass, where it could rest up for the next leg of its journey and wished it bon voyage. I hope it’s flown on by now.
The next day, the Washington Post had a front page story on the plight of this little beauty’s cousin, the monarch butterfly. Like so many other species, monarch butterflies are seeing their lives made more difficult by a slew of changes along their millennia-old migratory path – everything from the pesticide-laced fields of factory farms to climate change. The Post story examined how Texas’s long drought and forest fires are making for an even more treacherous journey than usual for the butterflies headed thousands of miles from as far away as Canada to overwintering grounds in Mexico.
Not very comforting: The story of the Japanese company capitalizing on Japan’s earthquake/tsunami tragedy has been all over the news. Tanaka sure looks cute emerging from his yellow tennisball-like pod.Look how he has left his shoes outside! But I wonder if that would be considered “best practice” in a true natural disaster?