COP27 is Over: Draft of Final Decisions to Transfer Resources to Developing Countries

The COP27 meeting concluded on November 18th; I’ve been following its progress. As I described last week, this meeting’s main topic was the difficulty developing countries are having in financing the required mitigation and adaptation to climate change. They have demanded financial help from developed countries and I promised that this week I would address the question of what they propose to do in case the funds are made available to them. Next week, I will focus on the same issue from the perspective of developed countries.

Not surprisingly, given the requirement of a unanimous decision by all participating countries (about 200), there were difficulties concluding the meeting with affirmative decisions. By Sunday morning (NY time), November 20th, the news media reported the progress in the matter:

SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt — Diplomats from nearly 200 countries concluded two weeks of climate talks on Sunday by agreeing to establish a fund that would help poor, vulnerable countries cope with climate disasters made worse by the greenhouse gases from wealthy nations.

The decision on payments for loss and damage caused by global warming represented a breakthrough on one of the most contentious issues at United Nations climate negotiations. For more than three decades, developing nations have pressed rich, industrialized countries to provide compensation for the costs of destructive storms, heat waves and droughts linked to rising temperatures.

But the United States and other wealthy countries had long blocked the idea, for fear that they could face unlimited liability for the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change.

The loss and damage agreement hammered out in this Red Sea resort town makes clear that payments are not to be seen as an admission of liability. The deal calls for a committee with representatives from 24 countries to work over the next year to figure out exactly what form the fund should take, which countries and financial institutions should contribute, and where the money should go. Many of the other details are still to be determined.

While the agreement above obviously didn’t find its way into the final resolution, it was good enough news that I decided to rededicate this blog to the relevant portions that did. I still plan to continue with the promised two blogs about the different perspectives on the role of inequality between developed and developing countries in adapting to and mitigating climate change. I will reexamine the final resolution at the end of this process and will let you know.

Here, I am posting the relevant sections of the preliminary resolution that deal with the transfer of resources between developed and developing countries. These resolutions take time and countless edits; they’re in the process of being updated but for now I’m bolding the sections that still need completion:

{Loss and damage}

  1. Welcomes the Parties’ agreement for the first time to include a sub-agenda item titled “Matters related to funding arrangements responding to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change including a focus on addressing loss and damage” under agenda item titled “matters related to finance” under COP and CMA, as a reflection of the wide global consensus around the grave situation in relation to loss and damage and the need for effective funding arrangements related to responding to loss and damage in particular addressing loss and damage.
  2. Notes with great concern, as documented by the IPCC 6th AR WG II and WG III reports, the growing gravity, scope and frequency of loss and damage in all regions, and that loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change take the form of extreme weather events as well as slow onset events, and result in devastating economic and non-economic losses including through its impact on cultural heritage, human mobility and forced displacement and the lives and livelihoods of local communities, and underlines in this regard that an adequate and effective response to loss and damage is of great importance to the continue credibility and relevance of the UNFCCC process.
  3. Expresses deep concern towards the significant financial costs associated with loss and damage for developing countries, resulting in increasing the burden of indebtedness and impairing the realization of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
  4. Welcomes the Parties’ agreement on all the institutional arrangements of the Santiago Network for averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change to enable its full operationalization, supports its mandated role in catalyzing technical assistance for the implementation of the relevant approaches at 6 the local, national and regional levels in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, and renews their determination to select the host of the Santiago Network Secretariat by 2023 through a selection process which is conducted in an open, transparent, fair and neutral manner in accordance with the process outlined in paragraphs 17-18 of CMA/**** COP/****;
  5. {Placeholder funding arrangement responding to loss and damage}.

{Implementation – Just Transition Pathways}

  1. Emphasizes the urgent need for immediate, deep, rapid and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions by Parties across all sectors, in order to limit global warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels; and highlights the importance of ensuring and enabling just transition for developing countries.
  2. Affirms that sustainable and just solutions to the climate crisis must be founded on meaningful and effective social dialogue and participation of all stakeholders, and notes that the global transition to low emissions provides opportunities and challenges for sustainable economic development and poverty eradication.
  3. Emphasizes that just and equitable transition encompasses pathways which include energy, socio-economic, workforce and other dimensions, all of which must be based on nationally defined development priorities and include social protection dimensions to mitigate potential impacts associated with the transition, and highlights the important role of the instruments and measures related to social solidarity and social protection floors in mitigating the impacts resulting from the applied measures.
  4. Decides to establish a work program on just transition to discuss pathways to deliver on article 2.1 of the Paris Agreement in the context of article 2.2 and requests the Subsidiary Body for Implementation and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice to recommend a draft decision on this matter for consideration and adoption by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement at its fifth session, in a manner that builds on and compliments the relevant work streams under the Convention and the Paris Agreement, including the Mitigation work program.
  5. Decides to convene an annual high-level ministerial round table on just transition, as part of the just transition work program beginning at the fifth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement.

 {Finance}

  1. Reiterates articles 2, 4 and 9 of the Paris Agreement; and highlights that about $4 trillion a year needs to be invested in renewable energy until 2030 – including investments in technology and infrastructure – to allow us to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Furthermore, a global transformation to a low-carbon economy is expected to require investments of at least USD 4-6 trillion a year. Delivering such funding will require a transformation of the financial system and its structures and processes, engaging governments, central banks, commercial banks, institutional investors and other financial actors.
  2. Notes with concern the growing gap between the needs of developing country Parties, in particular due to the increasing impacts of climate change and increased indebtedness, and the support provided and mobilized to complement their efforts to implement their nationally determined contributions, highlighting that current estimates of such needs are in the scale of 5.6 trillion USD up to 2030, while the global annual flows to developing countries.
  3. Expresses grave concern that the goal of developed country Parties to mobilize jointly USD 100 billion per year by 2020 has not yet been met and urges developed country Parties to meet the goal and address the shortfall to $100 billion since 2020.
  4. Emphasizes that accelerated financial support for developing countries from developed countries and other sources is a critical enabler to enhance mitigation action and 7 address inequities in access to finance, including its costs, terms and conditions, and economic vulnerability to climate change for developing countries. Scaled-up public grants for mitigation and adaptation funding for vulnerable regions, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, would be cost-effective and have high social returns in terms of access to basic energy.
  5. Notes that global climate finance flows are small relative to the overall needs of developing countries. Global climate finance in 2019–2020 was estimated to be USD 803 billion. This amount is 31–32 per cent of the annual investment needed for the global temperature rise to follow a well below 2 °C or a 1.5 °C pathway. This level of climate finance is also below what one would expect in the light of the investment opportunities identified and the cost of failure to meet climate stabilization targets.
  6. Notes the important role of technology transfer in enhancing climate action and that capacity gaps and needs still exist in developing countries.
  7. Urges developed country Parties to provide enhanced support, including through financial resources, technology transfer and capacity-building, to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation, in continuation of their existing obligations under the Convention, and encourages other Parties to provide or continue to provide such support voluntarily.
  8. Calls on MDBs and IFIs to align and scale up funding, ensure simplified access, mobilize climate finance from various sources, and encourages the shareholders of MDBs to define a new vision and commensurate operational model, channels and instruments that fit for-purpose to adequately address the global climate emergency; including deploying full suit of instruments from grants to guarantees and non debt instruments, without exacerbating debt burdens, and address the conservative risk appetites and limited scale of capitalization towards increasing their deployment on climate finance three folds up to 2025.
  9. Calls on multilateral development banks to reform their practices and priorities, in order to reduce the cost of borrowing for climate projects in developing countries and to increase their investment into adaptation financing and urges MDBs to align their operations with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and climate change emergency.
  10. Urges the ad hoc work programme on the new collective quantified goal to produce more efficient and operational results by 2023
  11. Calls on multilateral development banks to significantly increase climate ambition using the breadth of their policy and financial instruments for greater results including on private capital mobilization.
  12. Calls on multilateral development banks to ensure higher financial efficiency and maximize use of existing concessional and risk capital vehicles to drive innovation and accelerate impact.

{NCQG}

  1. {Placeholder for relevant outcomes from the ongoing negotiations}

NCQG stands for New Collective Quantified Goal on Climate Finance.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the blog, the agreement was “to establish a fund that would help poor, vulnerable countries cope with climate disasters made worse by the greenhouse gases from wealthy nations.” The major thing that remains open is where to draw the line of who needs to pay vs. who can withdraw from the fund. To put this question differently, how do we establish where middle-income countries fall on the binary? For instance, China is now the largest carbon emitter by far according to country measures but it trails many rich countries in emissions per capita, income per capita, and cumulative emissions. This issue has shadowed climate change agreements since its inception (put “Kyoto Protocol” in the search box for some perspective). Not surprisingly, the present agreement only establishes a committee that will submit a report about implementation to next year’s COP28 meeting, rather than trying to take definitive action now.

I will continue to follow the progress.

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Adaptation and Affordability: Global

Figure 1 – Historic cumulative emissions of countries (size of the circles) as a function of their vulnerabilities to climate change (Source: The New York Times)

It is now the second week of COP27 and the last month of my current semester. I asked my students if they have any idea what COP entails and whether they follow its progress. Of the three climate change-related courses that I teach, I got a positive answer from only one student. Test yourself on the two questions and let me know. Put COP26 in the search box and you will get 13 entries. COP is an abbreviation of Conference of Parties; it’s been held yearly since 1995 and is the preferred global meeting for world leaders to discuss global issues related to climate change. You can follow the COP27 process through the UN link and get the list and locations for all previous (and some future) meetings on the Wikipedia site.

COP27 started on Sunday, November 6th, in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheikh, and is scheduled to conclude this Friday, November 18th. I am writing this blog through the end of the first week of the meeting. As it seems now, COP27’s main topic is developing countries’ ability to find resources to fund both adaptation and mitigation of climate change. To put the issue a bit differently, the conference appears to focus on the role of equity in confronting climate change. I addressed this issue in a previous blog (August 4, 2020), “Inequity: The Intersection of Coronavirus, Poverty & Other Expected Trends,” where I posted a Venn diagram with equity in the center, surrounded by COVID-19, climate change, population, and jobs.

This blog will focus on the global issues of proposed mechanisms for moving resources from developed countries to developing ones. Next week, I will focus on what developing countries are supposed to do with the resources, should such mechanisms prove successful. Obviously, inequity is not only a global issue between rich and poor countries. It is also an issue that rich countries confront internally. Since adaptation to climate change needs to be addressed on local levels, I will try to address it toward the end of November.

The background for the effort to provide resources to developing countries confronting climate change can be seen in the top figure that plots the historic cumulative emissions of countries (size of the circles) as a function of their vulnerability, plotted on the horizontal axis.  If you plot the same data in terms of historic cumulative emissions per person vs. vulnerability, the figure will look quite different. I will return to this issue in future blogs.

A few catch-all terms are often used for the proposed mechanisms of moving resources from rich to poor. One is compensation:

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Nov 6 (Reuters) – Delegates from nearly 200 countries kicked off the U.N. climate summit in Egypt on Sunday with an agreement to discuss compensating poor nations for mounting damage linked to global warming, placing the controversial topic on the agenda for the first time since climate talks began decades ago.

The agreement set a constructive tone for the COP27 summit in the seaside resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, where governments hope to keep alive a goal to avert the worst impacts of planetary warming even as a slew of crises – from a land war in Europe to rampant inflation – distract the international focus.

Such a mechanism is almost identical to reparations. It is based on the premise shown in Figure 1, which puts the rich countries (many of them shown with large circles) on the left side of the diagram. Historically these countries have accumulated their wealth through the use of fossil fuels; as a result, poorer countries are more vulnerable, with very few resources to adapt to the changes. Repayment in this approach is based on blame, although the largest emitter right now is China by a large margin.

An alternative approach, loss and damage, is based on needs:

The 27th annual U.N. climate talks, known as COP27, began yesterday. At the top of the agenda for developing countries is financing for loss and damage: Who will pay for the costs of a warming world?

For them, loss and damage is a matter of justice. They face irreversible destruction and want rich nations — which have emitted half of all heat-trapping gases since 1850 — to compensate them.

Wealthy nations blanch at accepting blame. The U.S. and the E.U. fear that such compensation could become an unlimited liability. Last year, wealthy nations vowed to provide $40 billion per year by 2025 to help poorer countries with adaptation, but a U.N. report estimates that this amount is less than one-fifth of what developing nations need.

In fact, one frequently cited study estimated that developing countries could suffer between $290 billion to $580 billion in annual climate damages by 2030, even after efforts to adapt. Those costs could rise to $1.7 trillion by 2050.

Some of the history of this dispute is summarized in the piece below:

SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt — For 30 years, developing nations have been calling for industrialized countries to provide compensation for the costs of devastating storms and droughts caused by climate change. For just as long, rich nations that have generated the pollution that is dangerously heating the planet have resisted those calls.

At the United Nations climate summit last year, only Scotland, the host country, committed $2.2 million for what’s known as “loss and damage.” But this week, the dam may have begun to break.

On Sunday, negotiators from developing countries succeeded in placing the matter on the formal agenda of this year’s climate summit, known as COP27, or the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties.

“The addition of loss and damage on the agenda is a significant achievement, and one that we have been fighting for many years,” Mia Mottley, the prime minister of Barbados, said on Tuesday. “We have a moral and just cause.”

A third alternative is now in development that more closely follows present practices of the rich world in financing perceived general social needs:

SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt — The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were created 80 years ago to rebuild countries devastated by World War II and to stabilize the global economy. But an expanding group of world leaders now say the two powerful institutions need a 21st century overhaul to handle a new destructive force: global warming.

There is growing momentum behind a set of ideas that would fundamentally overhaul the two powerful financial institutions, which frequently loan or grant money from rich, industrialized nations to developing countries. The proposals are rapidly gaining traction among heads of state, finance ministers and even leaders of the bank and the fund, who are all meeting now at the United Nations climate summit known as COP27.

But as climate change continues to deliver a cascading series of hurricanes, floods, drought and fires, poor nations have found themselves victims of not only extreme weather but of the financial institutions designed for a different age. They are desperate for funds to recover from climate disasters while also starved for money to prepare for the next calamity. They are saddled with debt yet need to invest in a transition away from fossil fuels so they can lower the emissions that are heating the planet and causing so much damage in the first place.

The issue is now starting to expand beyond blame and resources to include health. On top of the lack of financial resources for proper adaptation to climate change-caused destruction or mitigation through changing energy sources, many poor countries are in desperate need of medical help. We know, for instance, that climate change brings a higher vulnerability to medical threats (see the guest blog from August 27, 2019).

Organizations such as Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) are realigning their structures to accommodate these needs:

NEW YORK/GENEVA, NOVEMBER 4, 2022—Teams with the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement see each day that climate change is not a distant threat; it is already dramatically affecting vulnerable people across the globe. In advance of the start of the annual UN COP27 climate conference on Sunday, the organizations call on world leaders to live up to their commitments under the Paris Agreement and Agenda 2030 to help ensure that vulnerable and conflict-affected people are adequately supported to adapt to a changing climate.

“We must collectively find solutions and ensure access to adequate climate finance in challenging environments,” said leaders of the organization in a joint statement today. “Leaving people behind is not an option.”

People who are affected most by the changing climate also often face armed conflict and health emergencies. In fact, of the 25 countries that are most vulnerable to climate change and least ready to adapt, the majority are also experiencing armed conflict. In many of these locations, people lack access to basic health care. People’s lives, health, and livelihoods are threatened when climate shocks occur in countries with limited food, water, and economic resources.

As I mentioned earlier, next week’s blog will investigate how developing countries plan to use newly available resources if some of these wealth transfer mechanisms are approved at COP27.

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Antisemitism and Collegiality

Two days before the Israeli elections (Tuesday, November 1st) and a week before the approaching elections in the US (Today, Tuesday, November 8th), I received an email from a Jewish colleague about an ongoing, anti-Israeli petition that was circulating in the school where both of us teach (City University of New York (CUNY)). The petition PDF that was originally attached to her email was dated 2021. I first thought that this was an old issue, but she corrected me by saying that the petition is ongoing, and names are being added even now. Below is the link and two key paragraphs from the petition:

“We, members of the City University of New York community, stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine resisting the violence and oppression of Israeli settler colonial and apartheid rule. We condemn the brutal bombing of Gaza, one of the world’s most densely populated areas, by Israeli forces. This represents the latest chapter of a nearly-fifteen-year illegal blockade that has transformed the territory into a prison for its two million inhabitants, most of whom descend from refugees expelled and driven from their homes during the Nakba that resulted from the establishment of the settler colonial state of Israel. We condemn the forced removal of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah—part of the broader colonial project of dispossession and expulsion, including unequal residency rights and discriminatory planning policies designed to advance the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem. We oppose the raiding of the al-Aqsa mosque, and the de facto annexation of East Jerusalem, which is illegally occupied territory.

We mourn all loss of life. But we do not subscribe to a “both sides” rhetoric that erases the military, economic, media, and global power that Israel has over Palestine. This narrative ignores and conceals the meaningful differences between Israel—one of the most heavily militarized states in the world that receives $3.8 billion of military aid annually from the U.S.—and a Palestinian population resisting colonial occupation and oppression. We pledge to do all in our power to change the conversation.

My initial reaction was to suggest that my friend should organize a counter petition (that I promised to sign). Her response was that she knows too little about the issues in the petition.

I don’t feel so restrained, and this blog is my response.

I wrote an earlier blog on Antisemitism (February 11, 2020) as a result of a direct challenge through comments during my talk on International Holocaust Day in 2020. I usually confine myself to issues connected directly to climate change, but my Holocaust background, explained in the earlier blog, makes me occasionally refocus.

A few days ago, an Israeli friend emailed me to inform me that in a few months he is coming to the US for a conference, and he would like to meet. We hadn’t seen each other for a few years and started with a short electronic chat about what we are doing. I told him about the petition and about my proposed response. Below, I quote what he had to say:

Antisemitism is not a new phenomenon, but it wears different clothes in each generation. The difference is that 80 years ago, there was almost no way for Jews to respond proactively to these false accusations. Perhaps now the situation is opposite, and we have to be very careful in our reactions in order to convince the majority of the people, who are neutral (and in most cases very pro) that we are not overreacting to these false accusations. Best wishes.

Well, my Israeli friend is a famous scientist, but he is not a politician and is not part of the Israeli government. A bit more qualified Israeli is Yair Lapid: he is now the temporary Prime Minister of Israel and in 2021 he was the Israeli Foreign Minister. When similar issues arose, he expressed his opinion about what Antisemitism entails. On July 14, 2021, he tried to expand the context to extreme hatred:

On July 14th, Yair Lapid spoke at the conference against antisemitism in Jerusalem. The text from his speech was posted on his Facebook page…

“It’s time that we tell the right story about antisemites. It’s time that we tell the world what we face. Antisemites weren’t only in the ghetto in Budapest. The antisemites were the slave traders who threw chained slaves into the ocean. The antisemites were the Hutu tribe members in Rwanda that slaughtered the Tutsis.  The antisemites are those Muslims who have killed more than 20 million fellow Muslims in the past decade. The antisemites are ISIS and Boko Haram. Antisemites are those who beat young LGBT people to death. The antisemites are all those who persecute people not for what they did, but for who they are, for what they were born as.”

The CUNY petition certainly was qualified on these terms because it showed extreme hatred to Israel. Lapid got a lot of negative feedback for his expansion of the concept. The objections basically said that once you expand something too much it loses its meaning. A few days after that speech, on July 26, 2021, Lapid wrote an op-ed in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Below are three short paragraphs from the article:

The first question we must ask ourselves is what antisemitism is. Astonishingly, that question has never had a simple answer. Antisemitism is too ancient and too broad in scope to allow a uniform definition. How exactly would we link the hatred of Jews that led to pogroms in Alexandria in 38 C.E. and the hatred of Jews that led to a demonstration by young supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement on the streets of Madrid?

In the absence of another definition, I accept the slightly cumbersome definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance that antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non- Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

I also support the IHRA’ s explanation that disproportionate attention to Israel or efforts to apply a standard to Israel that is not applied to other countries constitutes antisemitism.

IHRA stands for International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

The petition is not an isolated event.

On June 10, 2021, our faculty union came out with an almost identical anti-Israeli pronouncement in the form of a resolution by the Union Delegate Assembly under the heading of racial justice that resolved that the State of Israel is responsible for the massacre of Palestinians and supported the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) with direct comparison to the South African apartheid policies.

The effective anti-apartheid campaign against South Africa is a popular reference point for anti-Israeli campaigns in reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, there is a big difference between the two situations in terms of directing the anti-apartheid campaign against a minority, undemocratic, government directly responsible for the apartheid policy. I will return later to this issue.

I, and most Jewish faculty members in my school, are members of the union. 50 Jewish faculty members were so upset with the anti-Israeli resolution that they left the union. I was considering doing the same but then decided that I, with my background, might be more effective at trying to moderate the attitude from within. I wanted to internalize the debate and I wrote a counter-piece in the union’s monthly publication The Clarion. However, the piece was not printed; nor did I receive a rejection letter.

There are no words written either in the ongoing petition or in the 2021 union resolution about all the other injustices taking place, as listed in Yair Lapid’s expanded definition of antisemitism (seen above). To his list, I will add the Rohingya in Myanmar, governmental actions against minorities in Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia, Iran, and Turkey (the Kurds), and the Russian slaughter in Ukraine.

According to Lapid, this singling-out is antisemitism (his referral to the IHRA definition). However, we do not need Lapid’s expanded definition of antisemitism to label the ongoing petition as antisemitic. It is sufficient to use the one-sentence definition from the Meriam-Webster dictionary:

 “Hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.”

To make the case, I have two questions for the organizers of the ongoing petition:

  1. Against whom is the petition written?
  2. For whom is the petition intended?

These two questions are closely related. As I mentioned earlier, the petition and the repetitive anti-Israeli campaign, got their inspiration from the global campaign targeted against South Africa’s apartheid policy. In that case, the campaign was targeted at a minority: the South African government. This particular petition, however, cannot be targeted against the Israeli government because over the last four years there were five fully democratic elections in Israel, meaning that the government has changed multiple times during the lifetime of the petition.

Obviously, there is nothing wrong with criticizing Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. Half of Israel agrees with most of the criticism. So, maybe the petition is directed at that part of the Israeli population. The results of the recent election just came in, though, and the other half—the right wing parties who completely disagree—will take power now.

Here are the latest results of Israel’s last election:

Likud – 32

Yesh Atid (Yair Lapid’s party) – 24

Religious Zionism – 14

Arab-dominated parties United Arab List and Hadash-Taal – 5 members each.

Parties that didn’t pass the threshold of parliamentary entry (3.25% of the total vote):

Meretz – a few thousand votes short of the threshold

Balad (the third Arab party) – short by 0.5% of the vote

The Netanyahu right-wing coalition has 64 mandates; the Anti-Netanyahu coalition has 51 members. Overall, 280,000 votes of the anti-Netanyahu coalition ended up wasted for not passing the threshold. There have been 5 elections in 4 years with the most recent one with the widest participation.

The petition would be rightly directed at the leadership of the Religious Zionism party, which consists of Bezalel Smotrich and Kahanist Itamar Ben-Gvir. Their motto is and openly was, that the anti-Palestinian policies were not extreme enough. They are now going to be part of the Israeli government. The other half of Israel is as desperate about the results it as the writers of the petition.

So, for whom the petition is intended? Going through the list of injustices, both Lapid’s list, and my additions, and trying to find CUNY personnel that cares deeply about Israel, provides some explanation. As far as I know, we don’t have many Kurds as students or as faculty. We do, however, have many Muslim students and a few Muslim faculty and we have many Jewish faculty and many—but a declining number—of Jewish students. The global Muslim population is around 1.6 billion and they have many countries under their control. Some of them are on the list of abusers of minority rights; most of them are not.

Israel is the only country in the world with a mostly Jewish government. So, it’s not surprising that many Jewish people feel a special relationship with it (as I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs).

I grew up in Israel and I have dual American-Israeli citizenship, even though I wasn’t born in either of the two countries. The Jewish population of the City of New York is more than a million, about 2.5 times the total population of Tel Aviv. Jews are not currently a recognized minority in the US, so I have no idea how many Jews are working and studying in CUNY. I have some numbers for Brooklyn College, which claims they make up 4,000 or 29% of the school. I cannot vouch for these numbers because, even on a personal level, I have no idea who is a Jew. I know for a fact that the issue of antisemitism constantly occupies CUNY on all levels.

I know well a few of the people that signed the petition. They are my colleagues. They know that I am Jewish. Some of them know that I am a Holocaust survivor and some of them know that I grew up in Israel. I have been working for CUNY for 43 years. At no time have I felt any hatred or discrimination from anybody. I have no idea about the degree of knowledge that anybody signing this petition has about Israel or about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, my analysis leads me to think that the consistent anti-Israeli efforts are targeted at the Jewish population of CUNY. As such, based on the narrowest definition of antisemitism by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, this counts.

Instead of propagating hateful documents among significant sections of the school, it would have been much more productive to call for help for the Palestinians, the Kurds, the Rohingya, the Syrians, the Ethiopians, and every other minority that currently suffers from mistreatment. I will happily sign such a document and try to help in any way I can. I am sure that others will join.

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Human Reactions to the Climate Shift

The last three blogs examined the state of science in assigning attributions for extreme weather events to climate change. We have found that while this science is young when it comes to local events, it’s definite in terms of global impacts. Today’s blog is focused on public, non-scientific responses to the issue—this is a topic that I have covered extensively throughout the more than 10 years that I have been writing this blog. Just paste public attitude to human attribution to climate change into the search box and you will get a handful. A Pew Research survey from 2019 gives some details:

Majorities of Americans say the federal government is doing too little for key aspects of the environment, from protecting water or air quality to reducing the effects of climate change. And most believe the United States should focus on developing alternative sources of energy over expansion of fossil fuel sources, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

A report from last year that focuses on the American public’s positions regarding climate change comes to the same conclusion. The project maps these attitudes across the US, tracing beliefs, risk perceptions, policy opinions, and everyday behaviors.

The US is not the only country to share this attitude; it seems to be the same globally: 75% of people in 19 countries view global climate change as a major threat (though, it’s not clear from the survey if these people also agree about the anthropogenic origin of climate change).

Meanwhile, extreme weather events translate to high costs:

In a new study, Stanford researchers report that intensifying precipitation contributed one-third of the financial costs of flooding in the United States over the past three decades, totaling almost $75 billion of the estimated $199 billion in flood damages from 1988 to 2017.

“The fact that extreme precipitation has been increasing and will likely increase in the future is well known, but what effect that has had on financial damages has been uncertain,” said lead author Frances Davenport, a PhD student in Earth system science at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth). “Our analysis allows us to isolate how much of those changes in precipitation translate to changes in the cost of flooding, both now and in the future.”

oscillations that alter local astronomical tidal cycles and contribute to coastal impacts, will also increase in many regions. Here, we present an analysis of the CMIP5 climate model projections of future sea level to show that there is a tendency for a near-global increase in sea level variability with continued warming that is robust across models, regardless of whether ocean temperature variability increases. Specifically, for an upper-ocean warming by 2 °C, which is likely to be reached by the end of this century, sea level variability increases by 4 to 10% globally on seasonal-to-interannual timescales because of the nonlinear thermal expansion of seawater. As the oceans continue to warm, future ocean temperature oscillations will cause increasingly larger buoyancy-related sea level fluctuations that may alter coastal risks.

Who will pay for those damages? As I mentioned earlier (October 11, 2022), Florida is happy to get as much money as it can from the US federal government. Unfortunately, that is not an option for poor countries that don’t have such resources:

Twenty countries most vulnerable to climate change are considering halting their repayment of $685 billion in collective debt, loans that they say are an “injustice,” Mohamad Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives, said on Friday.

When the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund conclude their annual meetings in Washington on Sunday, Mr. Nasheed said he would tell officials that the nations were weighing whether to stop payments on their debts. The finance ministers are calling instead for a debt-for-nature swap, in which part of a nation’s debt is forgiven and invested in conservation.

“We are living not just on borrowed money but on borrowed time,” said Mr. Nasheed, who brought global attention to his sinking archipelago nation in the Indian Ocean by holding an underwater cabinet meeting in 2009. “We are under threat, and we should collectively find a way out of it.”

This fact sheet provides information on climate change polling in the United States and internationally from Spring 2015 to Spring 2016.

Poorer countries are trying to make the rich countries pay, arguing that rich countries have emitted the majority of the emissions responsible for climate change.

One rational attitude might be to leave the most vulnerable areas and look for safer places to live. In poor countries, this idea has resulted in a major increase in environmental refugees (put “environmental refugees” into the search box and see what you get).

In rich countries, such as the United States, however, the process seems to be going in reverse–in many cases, people are counterintuitively flocking to the most vulnerable places. Most of the fastest-growing states in the United States are in the West and South. In terms of the climate change impacts, the South is known for its floods and the West for its fires and droughts:

Nearly half of the continental United States is gripped by drought, government forecasters said Thursday, and conditions are expected to worsen this winter across much of the Southwest and South.

Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center, a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said a lack of late-summer rain in the Southwest had expanded “extreme and exceptional” dry conditions from West Texas into Colorado and Utah, “with significant drought also prevailing westward through Nevada, Northern California and the Pacific Northwest.”

Much of the Western half of the country is now experiencing drought conditions and parts of the Ohio Valley and the Northeast are as well, Mr. Halpert said during a teleconference announcing NOAA’s weather outlook for this winter.

One big city will serve as an example:

The largest city in Arizona is its capital, Phoenix, which has been the fastest-growing city in the US for the last three years. It’s now (2022) the fifth most populated city in the US (after New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston).

The four figures below show some of the changes in Phoenix over the last 30 years. These include population (Figure 1), climate—seen in terms of temperature (Figure 2) and precipitation (Figure 3), and the price of real estate (Figure 4) compared to New York City and the US average.

Figure 1 – Population increases in Arizona over the last 30 years (Source: City of Phoenix)

Figure 2 –Phoenix’s timeline of increased monthly average temperatures (Source: ABC 15 Arizona)

Figure 3 – Phoenix’s timeline of the decrease in precipitation (ex. January: -0.04” from 1991-2020)

Figure 4 – Case-Shiller home price index comparisons for the US, NYC, and Phoenix (Source: Arizona Real Estate Notebook)

Phoenix housing prices to be growing significantly faster than the national average. From the given data, Phoenix is about to resemble Dubai (See September 10, 2019 blog). The reasons for Arizona’s population growth are complex but proximity to California is playing an important role. Other, big, high-growth, states such as Florida and Texas are also suffering from major climate change impacts. The American public is not suicidal, but it seems to be discounting the problems visible within even a relatively short-term future in favor of present-day conveniences.

Posted in Climate Change, Extreme Weather | 2 Comments

Attributions of Fires and Floods

Table 5.1 of the 2016 National Academy’s Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change (described in my October 11th blog), grades our knowledge of attributions of extreme climate events.

The table summarizes the assessment of the state of event distributions for different event types in terms of three criteria: capabilities of climate models, quality and length of observational records, and understanding of the physical mechanisms that connect the event with climate change.

The capabilities of climate modeling and understanding of the physical mechanisms of wildfires are low; the quality and length of their observational records are medium. Floods don’t show up on the table but events that contribute to them do. These include extreme rainfall, snow and ice melting, and tropical and extratropical storms. Measuring capabilities in these events vary between low and medium, using the same criteria.

Fires and floods attract the most media attention and students that want to practice assigning climate change attributions usually try their hand at these two.

Two paragraphs on fires in the National Academy report summarize some aspects of this assessment:

Although wildfires are not meteorological events, their likelihood and extent can be influenced by climatic factors. Wildfires are often large and rapidly spreading fires affecting forests, shrub areas, and/or grasslands. Wildfires occur in many areas of the world, especially those with extensive forests and grasslands (Romero-Lankao et al., 2014). While most wildfires are started by lightning, a substantial number are started by humans, especially near populated areas. The most common metric of wildfires is the area burned, either by a single wildfire or by all wildfires during a fire season in a particular region.

Climate warming has resulted in longer fire seasons, consistent with the recent observed increase in severe fire years in the western United States and Alaska, as well as Brazil, eastern Africa, and parts of Eurasia (Jolly et al., 2015). What is less clear is how climate warming is driving changes in the atmospheric circulation and its teleconnections, resulting in persistent areas of high pressure that lead to large fire years on regional scales. Similarly, it is unclear how climate warming is regulating the shorter-term weather patterns that control extreme fire periods during which fires expand rapidly. Counterfactual model experiments are needed to address the role of climate warming in severe fire years regionally and in shorter episodes of rapid-fire expansion.

From this, I understand that the emphasis here remains on how wildfires start: whether the fire can be attributed to either humans or lightning. Figure 1, constructed by Visual Capitalist, provides a graphic of data on the starts of extreme fires in the US over the last 20 years:

Figure 1 – Wildfire attributions in the US over the last 20 years, with lightning on the left and humans on the right (Source: Visual Capitalist)

The association between how the fires start and attributions contradicts the argument that I made in last week’s blog that initial conditions and attributions are separate actions.

The capability of modeling wildfires, as a test for attribution, according to the National Academy, was low. However, that National Academy report was published in 2016. Below is a Wikipedia entry, last edited in 2022, on the same topic:

Wildfire modeling attempts to reproduce fire behavior, such as how quickly the fire spreads, in which direction, how much heat it generates. A key input to behavior modeling is the Fuel Model, or type of fuel, through which the fire is burning. Behavior modeling can also include whether the fire transitions from the surface (a “surface fire”) to the tree crowns (a “crown fire”), as well as extreme fire behavior including rapid rates of spread, fire whirls, and tall well-developed convection columns. Fire modeling also attempts to estimate fire effects, such as the ecological and hydrological effects of the fire, fuel consumption, tree mortality, and amount and rate of smoke produced.

Wildland fire behavior is affected by weather, fuel characteristics, and topography.

Weather influences fire through wind and moisture. Wind increases the fire spread in the wind direction, higher temperature makes the fire burn faster, while higher relative humidity, and precipitation (rain or snow) may slow it down or extinguish it altogether. Weather involving fast wind changes can be particularly dangerous, since they can suddenly change the fire direction and behavior. Such weather includes cold frontsfoehn winds, thunderstorm downdraftssea and land breeze, and diurnal slope winds.

Wildfire fuel includes grass, wood, and anything else that can burn. Small dry twigs burn faster while large logs burn slower; dry fuel ignites more easily and burns faster than wet fuel.

It has long been recognized that “fires create their own weather.” That is, the heat and moisture created by the fire feed back into the atmosphere, creating intense winds that drive the fire behavior. The heat produced by the wildfire changes the temperature of the atmosphere and creates strong updrafts, which can change the direction of surface winds. The water vapor released by the fire changes the moisture balance of the atmosphere. The water vapor can be carried away, where the latent heat stored in the vapor is released through condensation.

A schematic representation of the complexity of wildfires and their connections to climate change is shown in Figure 2:

Figure 2 – Infographic of mechanisms of climate change attributions to wildfires (Source: Union of Concerned Scientists)

One of the important aspects of assessment tools for attribution of an extreme event the National Academy report mentions is the length and quality of observations of the event. Again, we turn to Visual Capitalist for a visual representation of the data over the last 30 years, shown here in Figure 3.

Figure 3 – Number and area of wildfires in America over the last 30 years (Source: Visual Capitalist)

A visual increase toward the later years is observed but certainly not of the same magnitude as the observed rise in temperature that I’ve described in previous blogs as resembling a hockey stick.

As I mentioned before, floods are a bit more complex than wildfires, but as we will see below (Table 1), they are also more devastating. There are now strong attempts to model individual floods and their attributions to rising temperatures. For example:

To determine how rising temperatures have altered flood risk, atmospheric scientist Pardeep Pall of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and his colleagues ran thousands of climate simulations. In roughly half of them, they reduced atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide to levels measured in the year 1900, and they adjusted ocean temperatures and the amount of Arctic sea ice—which affects high-latitude weather patterns—accordingly. In the other simulations, they modeled modern conditions. Then they compared the rainfall amounts generated in both types of simulations. Finally, they fed the rainfall values into a model that assesses the potential for flooding.

In 90% of the simulations, results suggested that the flood risk in England and Wales in autumn 2000 was at least 20% higher than it would have been in 1900. In two-thirds of the cases, the flood risk was at least 90% higher—nearly double the risk at the beginning of the 20th century.

Figure 4 shows a map of the global flood risks that the world is facing, with the progressively darker red patches representing higher levels of a population exposed to such events.

Figure 4 – Map of global flood risks (Source: World Bank)

I will end this blog with a compilation Visual Capitalist made of the number of global deaths since 2010 from global natural disasters. Obviously, floods and wildfires are major contributors to these numbers.

Table 1 – Number of deaths from global natural disasters between 2010-2019 (Source: Visual Capitalist)

Extreme weather events are a deadly force. The question we are working on addressing is the extent to which we are making them more frequent or larger through anthropogenic climate change.

Posted in Anthropogenic, Climate Change | 2 Comments

Attribution Vs. Chaos

My previous blog cited a long 2016 report by the National Academy that outlines two classes of mechanisms used for climate events to assess the likelihood of attributions to climate change:

Event attribution approaches can be generally divided into two classes: (1) those that rely on the observational record to determine the change in probability or magnitude of events, and (2) those that use model simulations to compare the manifestation of an event in a world with human-caused climate change to that in a world without. Most studies use both observations and models to some extent—for example, modeling studies will use observations to evaluate whether models reproduce the event of interest and whether the mechanisms involved correspond to observed mechanisms, and observational studies may rely on models for attribution of the observed changes.

Below that paragraph, I showed a table from the same report that illustrated the state of understanding of various extreme consequences of climate change. These were grouped into three relevant categories:

  1. Ability to model the climate event.
  2. Quality and length of observational record of the event
  3. Understanding the mechanisms that lead to the event.

In all three categories, the only events for which the paper claimed to have a high degree of understanding were extremely high and low temperatures. Amid the fires, droughts, extreme storms, etc., the report’s table doesn’t even mention floods as a distinctive category.

Plenty of work remains for us to quantify the understanding of climate change’s impact on these extreme weather phenomena. In future blogs, I will try to describe in more detail some of the difficulties involved in quantifying such attribution.

This blog is focused on two relevant aspects: Attribution to anthropogenic (human-caused) to global extreme climate events and a distinction between chaotic systems, on which physics teaches us that initial conditions for such events cannot be determined, and anthropogenic attributions to such events.

I have repeatedly discussed anthropogenic attributions to global extreme climate events in previous blogs. The two that are most relevant are the following:

“Doomsday: Attributions,” from October 3, 2017, deals with the modeling of human influence on the global temperature from the beginning of the 20th century and the decline of the radioactive isotope carbon-14 in the atmosphere over that time—an indicator that burning fossil fuels is culpable of that change.

“The Little Ice Age,” from April 16, 2019, shows the reconstructed global temperature change from the beginning of the common era to the present day. This reconstruction shows a “hockey stick” shape: behavior with sharp temperature rises from the mid-20th century.

These data are such important evidence that they have convinced more than 90% of the world’s scientists about the post-Industrial Revolution climate change’s major human attribution. They also satisfy the two classes of observation outlined by the National Academy in last week’s blog. Figure 1 is repeated from the October 3, 2017, blog, showing the NASA simulation of the global temperature from the beginning of the 20th century.

Figure 1 – Attribution of global warming – simulation of 20th century global mean temperatures (with and without human influences) compared to observations
(Source: NASA via Wikipedia)

Chaos

The Oxford Language Dictionary defines chaos in the following way:

PHYSICS

  • behavior so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions.
  • the formless matter supposed to have existed before the creation of the universe.

I will focus here on the first definition (I covered the second definition in my July 26, 2022 blog, “Creation”).

When you Google climate change attributions and chaos, you will get many links to climate change deniers who claim that since—per definition—chaotic systems are very sensitive to initial conditions, we cannot attribute the majority of climate change to humans and that climate change cannot be predicted and thus cannot be attributed. Skeptical Science is a famous blog that addresses and rebuts such issues; I have mentioned it several times, including in one of my earliest blogs (July 13, 2013). I am quoting the relevant Skeptical Science post on this issue below.

The argument: Climate is chaotic and cannot be predicted

‘Lorenz (1963), in the landmark paper that founded chaos theory, said that because the climate is a mathematically-chaotic object (a point which the UN’s climate panel admits), accurate long-term prediction of the future evolution of the climate is not possible “by any method”. At present, climate forecasts even as little as six weeks ahead can be diametrically the opposite of what actually occurs, even if the forecasts are limited to a small region of the planet.’ (Christopher Monckton)

Response (with repeating Monckton’s argument):    “One of the defining traits of a chaotic system is ‘sensitive dependence to initial conditions’. This means that even very small changes in the state of the system can quickly and radically change the way that the system develops over time. Edward Lorenz’s landmark 1963 paper demonstrated this behavior in a simulation of fluid turbulence, and ended hopes for long-term weather forecasting.”

However, climate is not weather, and modeling is not forecasting.

Although it is generally not possible to predict a specific future state of a chaotic system (there is no telling what temperature it will be in Oregon on December 21 2012), it is still possible to make statistical claims about the behavior of the system as a whole (it is very likely that Oregon’s December 2012 temperatures will be colder than its July 2012 temperatures). There are chaotic components to the climate system, such as El Nino and fluid turbulence, but they all have much less long-term influence than the greenhouse effect.  It’s a little like an airplane flying through stormy weather: It may be buffeted around from moment to moment, but it can still move from one airport to another.

Nor do climate models generally produce weather forecasts. Models often run a simulation multiple times with different starting conditions, and the ensemble of results are examined for common properties (one example: Easterling & Wehner 2009). This is, incidentally, a technique used by mathematicians to study the Lorenz functions.

The chaotic nature of turbulence is no real obstacle to climate modeling, and it does not negate the existence or attribution of climate change.

Wikipedia’s entry summarizes the essentials of chaos theory:

Chaos theory is an interdisciplinary scientific theory and branch of mathematics focused on underlying patterns and deterministic laws, of dynamical systems, that are highly sensitive to initial conditions, that were once thought to have completely random states of disorder and irregularities.[1] Chaos theory states that within the apparent randomness of chaotic complex systems, there are underlying patterns, interconnection, constant feedback loops, repetition, self-similarityfractals, and self-organization.[2] The butterfly effect, an underlying principle of chaos, describes how a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state (meaning that there is sensitive dependence on initial conditions).[3] A metaphor for this behavior is that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can cause a tornado in Texas.

The simplest way to get a feeling for or understanding of chaos theory is to play with the logistic map:

The logistic map is a polynomial mapping (equivalently, recurrence relation) of degree 2, often cited as an archetypal example of how complex, chaotic behavior can arise from very simple non-linear dynamical equations. The map was popularized in a 1976 paper by the biologist Robert May,[1] in part as a discrete-time demographic model analogous to the logistic equation written down by Pierre François Verhulst.[2] Mathematically, the logistic map is written

where xn is a number between zero and one, that represents the ratio of existing population to the maximum possible population. This nonlinear difference equation is intended to capture two effects:

  • reproduction where the population will increase at a rate proportional to the current population when the population size is small.
  • starvation (density-dependent mortality) where the growth rate will decrease at a rate proportional to the value obtained by taking the theoretical “carrying capacity” of the environment less the current population.

The usual values of interest for the parameter are those in the interval [0, 4], so that xn remains bounded on [0, 1]. The r = 4 case of the logistic map is a nonlinear transformation of both the bit-shift map and the μ = 2 case of the tent map. If r > 4 this leads to negative population sizes. (This problem does not appear in the older Ricker model, which also exhibits chaotic dynamics.) One can also consider values of r in the interval [−2, 0], so that xn remains bounded on [−0.5, 1.5].[3]

By varying the parameter r, the following behavior is observed:

Evolution of different initial conditions as a function of r

  • With r between 0 and 1, the population will eventually die, independent of the initial population.

  • With r between 1 and 2, the population will quickly approach the value r − 1/r, independent of the initial population.

  • With r between 2 and 3, the population will also eventually approach the same value r − 1/r, but first will fluctuate around that value for some time. The rate of convergence is linear, except for r = 3, when it is dramatically slow, less than linear (see Bifurcation memory).

  • With r between 3 and 1 + √6≈ 3.44949 the population will approach permanent oscillations between two values. These two values are dependent on r and given by[3]

  • With r between 3.44949 and 3.54409 (approximately), from almost all initial conditions the population will approach permanent oscillations among four values. The latter number is a root of a 12th degree polynomial (sequence A086181 in the OEIS).

  • With r increasing beyond 3.54409, from almost all initial conditions the population will approach oscillations among 8 values, then 16, 32, etc. The lengths of the parameter intervals that yield oscillations of a given length decrease rapidly; the ratio between the lengths of two successive bifurcation intervals approaches the Feigenbaum constant δ ≈ 4.66920. This behavior is an example of a period-doubling cascade.

  • At r ≈ 3.56995 (sequence A098587 in the OEIS) is the onset of chaos, at the end of the period-doubling cascade. From almost all initial conditions, we no longer see oscillations of finite period. Slight variations in the initial population yield dramatically different results over time, a prime characteristic of chaos.

The result of all of this is shown in Figure 2:

Figure 2 – Logistic map of Equation 1, regarding global population (Source: Hyperchaos)

The easiest way to construct Figure 2 from Equation 1 is to put the values of the three parameters of Equation 1 into Excel and to take about 30 recurring values of x.

Figure 2 starts with a deterministic pattern and continues, independent of the initial conditions until the rate (r in Equation 1 or a in Figure 2) reaches the value of 3. As the value of the rate surpasses 3, it starts to bifurcate—first between two very different values, then between other values—into patterns that look completely random. In practice, this means that major population changes can follow the smallest changes in the initial conditions. If we are in that chaotic regime, we cannot trace our way back to where we started the process.

The organization Project Nile published a great piece about chaos theory.

When we have an extreme weather event such as a fire or flood, we often look for a source that we can blame. This might satisfy our instincts but it will not be useful. On the other hand, if we can compare the statistics in terms of frequency and intensity to a missing driving force (like human action), as we are trying to do with attribution research, we can begin mitigation efforts and work to lessen the rate of such events.

This conclusion agrees with the Skeptical Science conclusion: “attribution is not a determination of initial conditions.”

Posted in Anthropocene, Anthropogenic, Climate Change, Extreme Weather, Sustainability | 2 Comments

Attribution: Noah’s Ark

During the active academic year, my main focus for this blog is to provide help to my students in their research assignments. I try to address the blog’s main focus—global transitions (with an emphasis on climate change)—while also staying relevant to the different courses and and being helpful to the general public. Over the previous few weeks, I’ve focused on students who research “Campus as a Lab” as a learning tool. Today, I am starting to address the needs of more advanced students—specifically, trying to quantify attributions of global transitions to local events with a focus on climate change.

Catastrophic floods are now hitting all over the world (for a comprehensive list from recent months, see Al Jazeera.). The devastating flooding in Pakistan probably attracted the most global attention, but by their nature, floods are local events that attract the most attention from the citizens of the affected country. In the US, most Americans are focusing on hurricane Ian’s impact and the devastating floods it wreaked in Florida. However, given that the US has less than a month before important elections, it’s no surprise that some of the responses to extreme weather are being politicized (“Florida’s GOP Leaders Opposed Climate Aid. Now They’re Depending on It.“)

For over a generation, climate change, with all its aspects, has been a politically divisive issue in the US. I have covered the topic extensively throughout this blog’s more than 10-year run. Democrats have argued that most of the global warming, as measured following the start of the Industrial Revolution, originates from human activities—primarily, the shift to fossil fuels as our main source of energy. Meanwhile, Republicans have largely admitted that the warming is taking place but claimed that there is considerable uncertainty about its causes, concluding that we should not take major steps to change our energy sources until we are more certain of the causation. A significant fraction of people who hold this opinion attribute the warming to “natural” causes and ascribe extreme consequences (e.g. extreme weather) to “biblical” causes. In other words, the phenomena are perpetrated independently of humans and we should just learn to live with them.

Figure 1 – Noah’s Ark (Source: Library of Congress via Rawpixel)

Figure 1 shows the most famous biblical flood and Noah’s individual attempt to adapt by building an ark and inviting pairs of animals to share with him its safety (I mentioned Noah’s Ark before, in a different context– February 4, 2020). The attribution, in this case, is clear: God made the flood as punishment for bad human behavior. The proposed mitigation for human sin is also clear: wipe out all badly-behaving humans but save one well-behaved family with the hope that they will multiply and create an improved human population. What’s less clear is how the animals that were fated to survive were chosen.

Wikipedia provides a short summary of Noah’s ark.

Noah’s Ark (Hebrew: תיבת נח; Biblical Hebrew: Tevat Noaḥ)[Notes 1] is the vessel in the Genesis flood narrative (Genesis chapters 6–9) through which God spares Noah, his family, and examples of all the world’s animals from a world-engulfing flood.[1] The story in Genesis is repeated, with variations, in the Quran, where the Ark appears as Safinat Nūḥ (Arabic: سفينة نوح “Noah’s ship”) and al-fulk (Arabic: الفُلْك).

Searches for Noah’s Ark have been made from at least the time of Eusebius (c. 275–339 CE), and believers in the Ark continue to search for it in modern times, but no confirmable physical proof of the Ark has ever been found.[2] No scientific evidence has been found that Noah’s Ark existed as it is described in the Bible.[3] More significantly, there is also no evidence of a global flood, and most scientists agree that such a ship and natural disaster would both be impossible.[4] Some researchers believe that a real (though localized) flood event in the Middle East could potentially have inspired the oral and later written narratives; a Persian Gulf flood, or a Black Sea Deluge 7,500 years ago has been proposed as such a historical candidate.[5][6]

Wikipedia also features more recent lists of deadly historic floods and fires, many of which are now considered to be largely attributable to climate change.

Wikipedia also provides some help describing event attributions to climate change:

Extreme event attribution, also known as attribution science, is a relatively new field of study in meteorology and climate science that tries to measure how ongoing climate change directly affects recent extreme weather events.[1][2][3][4] Attribution science aims to determine which such recent events can be explained by or linked to a warming atmosphere and are not simply due to natural variations.[5]

Attribution studies generally proceed in four steps: (1) measuring the magnitude and frequency of a given event based on observed data, (2) running computer models to compare with and verify observation data, (3) running the same models on a baseline “Earth” with no climate change, and (4) using statistics to analyze the differences between the second and third steps, thereby measuring the direct effect of climate change on the studied event.[5][6]

Heatwaves are the easiest weather events to attribute.[5]

Zubin Zeng wrote a related article last summer for the news site The Conversation:  “Is climate change to blame for extreme weather events? Attribution science says yes, for some – here’s how it works.” (Retrieved 3 September 2021).

Meanwhile, the National Academy of Science created a lengthy report with a much more comprehensive description (2016). I am including some highlights below:

Definition:

Attribution: The process of evaluating the relative contributions of multiple causal factors to a change or an event with an assignment of statistical confidence (Hegerl et al., 2010).

From the Summary (I added the emphases):

The observed frequency, intensity, and duration of some extreme weather events have been changing as the climate system has warmed. Such changes in extreme weather events also have been simulated in climate models, and some of the reasons for them are well understood. For example, warming is expected to increase the likelihood of extremely hot days and nights (Figure S.1). Warming also is expected to lead to more evaporation that may exacerbate droughts and increased atmospheric moisture that can increase the frequency of heavy rainfall and snowfall events. The extent to which climate change influences an individual weather or climate event is more difficult to determine. It involves consideration of a host of possible natural and anthropogenic factors (e.g., large-scale circulation, internal modes of climate variability, anthropogenic climate change, aerosol effects) that combine to produce the specific conditions of an event. Extreme events are rare, meaning that typically there are only a few examples of past events at any given location.

Event attribution approaches can be generally divided into two classes: (1) those that rely on the observational record to determine the change in probability or magnitude of events, and (2) those that use model simulations to compare the manifestation of an event in a world with human-caused climate change to that in a world without. Most studies use both observations and models to some extent—for example, modeling studies will use observations to evaluate whether models reproduce the event of interest and whether the mechanisms involved correspond to observed mechanisms, and observational studies may rely on models for attribution of the observed changes.

TABLE 5.1 This table… provides an overall assessment of the state of event attribution science for different event types. In each category of extreme event, the committee has provided an estimate of confidence (high, medium, and low) in the capabilities of climate models to simulate an event class, the quality and length of the observational record from a climate perspective, and an understanding of the physical mechanisms that lead to changes in extremes as a result of climate change. The entries in the table are based on the available literature and are the product of committee deliberation and judgment.

Next week’s blog will continue to discuss attributions, looking at specific cases. I will start by discussing the evidence for attributing anthropogenic (human) contributions to the global impact of climate change. I will further explore the methodology proposed by the National Academy, as discussed in this blog.

Posted in Climate Change | 3 Comments

Campus as a Lab Part 5: Learning from Global Efforts

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, NY Governor Kathy Hochul issued Executive Order 22 regarding environmental stewardship; it reflected the thinking that the state government should form an example of such stewardship for the rest of society. The title of this order made this point clear: “Leading By Example: Directing State Agencies to Adopt a Sustainability and Decarbonization Program.”

One of the reasons that I wrote that blog was to respond to an often-asked question that I am working to address in various forms: how to use the various global crises that we are currently facing to enrich the education of our students. This is the central premise of the “Campus as a Lab” concept that I have tried to cover in recent blogs and actively pursue in my own school. However, with our communication abilities, an elected official’s ability to use executive power to provide desired examples for others to follow should not be the only source of inspiration. Today’s blog gives some examples of focus areas of the “College as a Lab” that I mentioned in the last blog; these all relate to the global arena and most change is coming not through top-down commands, but rather via bottom-up movements, by necessity.

diagram of top-down vs. bottom-up movements

Decarbonization through reduction of energy intensity

Over the 10 years that I have been running this blog, I have repeatedly talked about the concept of working toward the decarbonization of the energy supply—primarily through reducing the amount of energy needed to run the same economic activity (see my June 28, 2022 blog, “Fighting Energy Use Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up”). Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, the need to reduce energy intensity as a counterweight to the Russian aggression has become a necessity, independent of the longer-term need for decarbonization. A good example of this comes from Germany, Europe’s largest economy:

AUGSBURG, Germany — Wolfgang Hübschle went into city government expecting a simple life, planning things like traditional festivals replete with lederhosen.

Instead, these days he has the unpopular task of calculating which traffic lights to shut off, how to lower temperatures in offices and swimming pools — and perhaps, if it comes to it, pulling the plug on Bavarians’ beloved but energy-intensive breweries.

Municipal officials like Mr. Hübschle, the economic adviser to the provincial Bavarian city of Augsburg, sit on the front line of a geopolitical struggle with Russia since European Union leaders agreed this week to try to reduce natural gas consumption by 15 percent, fearing that President Vladimir V. Putin could cut exports in retaliation for Europe’s support for Ukraine.

Since energy prices are a global issue, an effort has been made to reduce them by increasing domestic energy supplies to replace that which usually comes from Russia. This has, among other things, forced the US to withdraw historic quantities of oil reserves from its emergency supply. Many of these consequences could be reduced by increasing the efficiency of our energy use:

Even as Oil Prices Ease, U.S. Keeps Tapping Strategic Reserve

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Biden has overseen the largest sale of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve ever, to ease prices at the gasoline pump.

Having released 160 million barrels of crude since March, more than a quarter of the stockpile, the Energy Department has reduced the reserve to its lowest level in four decades. Some oil experts say continuing the withdrawals could test the nation’s energy security.

But even though oil prices have fallen sharply from their peak, the administration is not ready to start refilling the reserve. Instead, rather than ending the releases in October as planned, it has decided to extend them, at a lower rate, for at least another month.

“It’s a risky policy,” said Kevin Book, managing director of ClearView Energy Partners, a consulting firm in Washington. “This policy can only last until the stockpiles are exhausted, and replenishing the stockpiles would take years.”

Reduced use of plastic through encouraging the use of sustainable alternatives

India, the largest developing country, is an excellent example of bottom-up efforts to reduce plastic use:

As India Bans Disposable Plastic, Tamil Nadu Offers Lessons

CHENNAI, India — Amul Vasudevan, a vegetable hawker in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, thought she was going to go out of business.

The state had forbidden retailers to use disposable plastic bags, which were critical for her livelihood because they were so cheap. She could not afford to switch to selling her wares in reusable cloth bags.

Tamil Nadu was not the first state in India to try to curtail plastic pollution, but unlike others it was relentless in enforcing its law. Ms. Vasudevan was fined repeatedly for using throwaway bags.

Now, three years after the ban took effect, Ms. Vasudevan’s use of plastic bags has decreased by more than two-thirds; most of her customers bring cloth bags. Many streets in this state of more than 80 million people are largely free of plastic waste.

Testing sewage for early detection of viral threats:

I am giving two examples of this focus activity, as it relates to the expansion of COVID-19 testing and the detection of other re-emerging pandemics.

  1. Wastewater Disease Tracking: A Photographic Journey From the Sewer to the Lab

The Covid-19 pandemic has turned sewage into gold.

People who are infected with the coronavirus shed the pathogen in their stool. By measuring and sequencing the viral material present in sewage, scientists can determine whether cases are rising in a particular area and which variants are circulating.

People excrete the virus even if they never seek testing or treatment. So wastewater surveillance has become a critical tool for keeping tabs on the virus, especially as Covid-19 testing has increasingly shifted to the home.

The institutions and localities that invested in wastewater surveillance over the last two years are discovering that it can be used to track other health threats, too. The Sewer Coronavirus Alert Network has already begun tracking the monkeypox virus in wastewater. And last week, New York City officials announced that polio had been detected in the city’s sewage.

  1. Governor Hochul Declares Polio State of Emergency for New York

In August, New York City officials said they had identified polio in the city’s wastewater. On Friday, state health officials announced that they had identified polio in 57 samples collected from wastewater in several downstate counties between May and August. The majority of the samples were collected in Rockland County, and 50 of them were genetically linked to the case of the Rockland resident.

Thirteen of the wastewater samples were collected in Orange County, six were collected in Sullivan County and one was collected in Nassau County.

Next week I will shift back to my local environment, as we continue to follow our efforts to implement “Campus as a Lab” at my school.

Posted in Climate Change, Economics, Electricity, Energy, Russia/Ukraine, Sustainability | 1 Comment

Campus as a Lab Part 4: In Defense of Failures; Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

Source: iStock Photo

I know that the title makes for a strange combination! This blog is being posted on the second day of the Jewish New Year. Similar to other New Year postings (see the September 22, 2020 one for Rosh Hashana or the December 31, 2019, posting for the Common Era New Year, that took place days before COVID-19 was escalated from epidemic to global pandemic) I am wishing everybody a better future in the coming year. Why, then, do I combine these wishes with ones for failures and with Campus as a Lab?

Given the current world situation, it is not enough to wish for a better future; to achieve it we have to work hard together. Working hard doesn’t help, though, when we don’t know exactly what to do to confront the threats that surround us—so we have to experiment. University campuses have to lead in the experimentations, with the knowledge that in doing so we will inevitably encounter many failures. As we know from science, those failures are necessary so that we can eventually learn what leads to success.

Last week’s blog started with a figure of the “Magic Triangle” of Curriculum, Research, and Campus Operation (Administration) interacting with the two overlapping spheres of Institutional Sustainability and Living Laboratories. Underneath these spheres, the figure contains suggested specific focus areas such as:

Stormwater projects

Native Landscapes

Energy efficiency

To which I added:

Mandated decarbonization

Mandated decrease in the use of single-use plastics

Testing of sewage for early detection of viral threats

Running schools with decreased enrollments

You may already have thought of more areas to add to this list (feel free to post them in the comments). Clearly, these focus areas include sustainability and well-being, with substantial overlap between them.

All of these areas require the participation of both top-down and bottom-up efforts—in other words: we all need to work together. Whenever I talk or write about how to address this issue in the context of my classroom or the administration’s participation in my school’s activities, I am asked to provide examples. Well, during the last meeting regarding my school’s attempt to address single-use plastic, the CUNY administrator in charge of the process shared how the State of New York has recently begun to address this issue. The governor issued a sustainability and decarbonization executive order on September 20, 2022 that calls on state agencies to lead by example:

WHEREAS, State government can and should continue to lead in environmental stewardship through the use of green procurement and sustainable management practices; and

The order lists 75 affected entities in New York State, including CUNY and SUNY, the two New York public universities. The order is only aimed at state facilities and is meant to serve as an example for others (private sectors, federal facilities within the state, and local facilities).  I am including selected excerpts below but I strongly recommend that you read the full order:

II. Green NY Council

There is hereby established the GreenNY Council (the “Council”). The Council shall be comprised of the Director of the Division of the Budget (“DOB”); the Commissioner of the Office of General Services; the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”); the Commissioner of the Department of Health; the Commissioner of Economic Development; the Commissioner of Transportation; the Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation; the President of the Environmental Facilities Corporation; the President of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (“NYSERDA”); the President of the New York Power Authority (“NYPA”); the President of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York; and the Chief Executive Officer of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

III.  Training, Staff, and Support

  1. Each Affected Entity shall, no later than 30 days from the issuance of this Order, assign an employee to serve as its Sustainability Coordinator. Sustainability Coordinators shall be given management support and provided with the necessary resources to enable the Affected Entity to comply with this Order. Sustainability Coordinators shall serve as the Affected Entity’s liaison to the Council.
    1. Affected Entities are encouraged to create a Sustainability Team in-house to support the work of the Council. This Sustainability Team should be comprised of appropriate staff involved in identifying, approving, and implementing sustainability or energy projects, and environmental justice matters. The Sustainability Team should include an executive sponsor at the Deputy or Associate Commissioner, or Vice President level or equivalent.

IV. Reporting

  1. All Affected Entities shall furnish such information and assistance as the Council determines is reasonably necessary to accomplish its purposes. All Affected Entities shall share data in the most efficient manner identified by the Council for purposes of informing any progress reports, and the Council shall follow applicable NYS Data Governance procedures regarding any interagency data sharing or collection.

V. Exemptions

  1. Exemptions from any of the specific targets, goals, or other requirements under this Order may be granted by the Council co-chairs, provided, however, that any exemptions to Section VII.A of this Order may only be granted by the President of NYSERDA in consultation with the Chief Executive Officer of the New York State Department of Public Service (“DPS”) and Director of Budget.

VI. Buying and Operating Green

  1. The Council shall develop and issue sustainable procurement specifications (procurement specifications) for use by Affected Entities in the procurement of commodities, services, and technology, or where applicable, in the development of new public works solicitations and contracts.
    Any procurement specifications developed, approved, or issued by the Interagency Committee on Sustainability and Green Procurement under Executive Order 4, issued on April 24, 2008, shall carry forward in full effect as if issued by the Council until modified by the Council.

VII.  Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

  1. By 2030 and thereafter, subject to available supply, 100% of the electricity used by Affected Entities for their own operations, except electricity needed to support the generation of electricity by an Affected Entity in accordance with its enabling authority, shall come from energy systems that are eligible under the CES (“Eligible Systems”) as part of an all-of-government approach to meet the goals of the Climate Act in a cost-effective manner.

VIII.  Reducing Waste

  1. The Council shall create a waste diversion plan template that Affected Entities shall use to complete their plans. All Affected Entities shall create a waste diversion plan and file such plan with the Council that outlines how they will meet the following goals:
    1. A decrease in waste disposal of 10 percent every five years from a baseline of Fiscal Year 2018-19, until reaching a goal of 75 percent.
    2. Waste data reported for these goals should be broken out into the following categories: recycled materials; compostable materials and other organics; material sent to landfill (including construction and demolition waste); and special waste (including hazardous waste).

IX. Reducing Use of Toxic Substances.

  1. Affected Entities shall evaluate and incorporate toxics use reduction strategies into their operations, to the extent practicable, to achieve pollution prevention. The Council will, at a minimum, provide agencies with information on healthy buildings, green cleaning and disinfection, integrated pest management and green procurement.

XI. Low Impact Development

  1. Affected Entities shall evaluate, and to the maximum extent practicable, incorporate green infrastructure concepts to reduce all stormwater runoff and improve water quality in new construction or redevelopment projects submitted for permitting by Affected Entities regardless of disturbance threshold. These include activities such as the reconstruction of parking lots and the addition of new landscaping.

XII.  Promoting Biodiversity and Habitat Protection

  1. Affected Entities that have jurisdiction over real property shall, where practicable, seek opportunities to enhance the ecological integrity of their real property to support native biodiversity and the NYS Pollinator Protection Plan, protect threatened and endangered species, and increase climate resilience and natural carbon storage. This includes prioritizing the use of native plants and minimizing the use of non-native plants in landscaping and other planting efforts and other activities that may be identified in the New York Natural Heritage Program conservation guide and its management recommendations regarding listed plants.

XIII.  Disadvantaged Communities

  1. Each Affected Entity shall, to the maximum extent practicable, lower the impact of its operations on Disadvantaged Communities, and shall incorporate lowered environmental impact in these communities into the plans developed by Affected Entities pursuant to this Order.

XIV.  Innovative Solutions

  1. The Council shall continuously evaluate the potential of new technologies in order to assist Affected Entities in continuing to reduce their environmental footprint and increase climate resilience (mitigation and adaptation) of its operations, and wherever feasible, test new technologies and equipment to determine if such technologies or equipment is practicable for adoption in Affected Entity operations.

Cost is a factor in the order, but only as one aspect to be weighed against other considerations.

WHEREAS, it is the State’s policy to promote cost-effective methods to reduce energy and resource consumption, and reduce or eliminate the use of hazardous substances and the generation of hazardous substances, pollution, and waste at the source; and

It is also brought up in the sections VI. Buying and Operating Green, VII. Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and VIII.  Reducing Waste.

Well, this executive order covers most of the focus groups that we need to incorporate in all our institutions, but not all. The next blog will focus on our ability to learn how to connect these disparate elements through learning from global experiences.

Posted in Climate Change | 2 Comments

Campus as a Lab Part 3: Serve Students Through Better Faculty/Administration Integration

Source: Rutgers Living Laboratories

The figure at the top is a repeat from the first blog in this series (July 19th). The first two blogs were posted during the summer when I was working from home and traveling in Europe. I am writing this blog at the beginning of the fall semester, and have started to work on implementing the mission the figure illustrates in my own school.

I am focused on three aspects of this attempt: The relationship between faculty, administrators, and students as determined through the governance of the institution, incorporating the concept into my teaching, and integrating the concept of “Living Laboratories” into the mandated sustainability efforts of the school. I’m repeating the figure above based on the premise that all the campus and university personnel that are needed to improve the governance of the school are very busy, and this blog is probably the only document that I have any right to hope that they will read.

As to the examples shown in the figure, I would add the following categories below the overlapping circles of Institutional Sustainability and Living Laboratories: mandated decarbonization, mandated decrease in the use of single-use plastics, and testing of sewage for early detection of viral threats. I would also incorporate efficiently running schools with decreased enrollments—a problem that threatens us all given the declining global population. All these threats (and the ones that I don’t know to include) are components of the correlations between Institutional Sustainability and Living Laboratories shown in the figure.

I teach at the City University of New York (CUNY):

The City University of New York (abbr. CUNY; /ˈkjuːni/, KYOO-nee) is the public university system of New York City. It is the largest urban university system in the United States, comprising 25 campuses: eleven senior colleges, seven community colleges, six professional institutions ,one undergraduate honors college and a University Center headed by the Chancellor. While its constituent colleges date back as far as 1847, CUNY was established in 1961. The university enrolls more than 275,000 students.

The university has one of the most diverse student bodies in the United States, with students hailing from around the world, but mostly from New York City. The black, white and Hispanic undergraduate populations each comprise more than a quarter of the student body, and Asian undergraduates make up 18 percent. Fifty-eight percent are female, and 28 percent are 25 or older.[59] In the 2017–2018 award year, 144,380 CUNY students received the Federal Pell Grant.[60]

CUNY employs 6,700 full-time faculty members and over 10,000 adjunct faculty members.

By necessity, the governance of the university is complicated; it involves not only the overall institution but also the governance of all the individual colleges. All report to the Chancellor, who in turn reports to the Board of Directors. The university’s mandate is anchored in the New York State Educational Law 125, Section 6201.

I teach at Brooklyn College, one of the senior colleges. Within that, I teach at the Honor College, Macaulay, and occasionally in the Graduate Center. I am directly involved in my college’s attempts to reduce its carbon footprint and in the university’s efforts to reduce its single-use plastic. Over the last three years, the focus of my Macaulay class has been to follow our school’s attempts to reduce its carbon footprint. Last year, we focused on the lessons that the COVID-19-triggered shifts to online learning can provide about how to minimize energy use under normal, in-person, conditions. The August 2nd “Campus as a Lab” blog (the second in the series) shows the details and one of the final products that emerged. That work also shows the benefits of a closer relationship of cooperation with the administration, in addition to highlighting some of the difficulties that the complexity of the university structure imposes on meaningful on-campus changes.

The most direct mechanism to minimize carbon emissions would be to change the energy sources that power the campuses. However, the consortia structure of the university means that the University Center purchases the energy and then distributes it to the campuses (granted, if a campus is using less energy than estimated, it is compensated for the saved energy). In addition, the buildings of a campus belong to CUNY, not to the campuses or colleges. So, a campus is not free, on its own to install photovoltaic panels or wind turbines to replace some of its energy sources. Only CUNY can do that. What the individual campuses can do is educate their own students to minimize wasted energy and receive the benefits of their actions. This concept can be generalized for most of the other transitions that campuses are now going through. Almost every one of them has both a top-down and a bottom-up component for implementation.

Incorporating the decarbonization efforts into my course curriculum was a straightforward exercise. It was implemented in a course that was generally labeled as “Science-Forward,” meaning that instructors have the freedom to teach almost anything as long as they incorporate certain essential elements. Almost all of the students came in with a solid background in high school science. My course has always focused on climate change, so it was not difficult to add the research component that relates to the transitions taking place on campus. This year’s experiment is exploring the incorporation of college transition into other disciplines.

The methodology I use in teaching the class is based on Team-Based Learning (TBL): the class is divided into groups that work together. Half of the semester is dedicated to the background, while the other half is spent on research projects. We end with posters that summarize the work done—like the one shown in the August 2nd blog.

The groups are divided into four of the five schools that make up the college’s departmental structure. These schools include Business (4 departments), Education (4), Science (9), and Social Sciences (8 interdisciplinary programs and 12 departments). The students’ research job is not to change any of the offered courses or to add new courses but to identify candidate courses in which aspects of the transitions already in effect in the college could help in the teaching. Once they find the target courses, they approach the relevant teaching faculty and discuss how to implement the changes, including the specific materials (I focus on energy use in my course). Only then can they approach the administration to help faculty in the next steps toward implementation.

Cooperation of students in different disciplines on similar aspects in college changes will encourage interdisciplinary work. This should also result in more cluster hiring, as I mentioned in the July 19th blog.

This is all new but not unique to me or to the institution. I gave some background and activities taking place at other institutions in the first two blogs in this series. The activities that I outline here aim to achieve two complementary objectives: improve the students’ education through the incorporation of practical experiences (hopefully helping them succeed in similar transitions after graduation) and at the same time help prepare the college to lead in the long-term changing realities of the physical environment that engulfs us all.

In most cases, such activities involve budgetary and personnel tensions between present and future needs. Every step taken to improve prospects in the future must consider the price against present needs. We must experiment to achieve the right balance and consider cost-effectiveness in any pilot that we are undertaking. However, the need for such balance is not restricted to academic institutions; it also applies to society at large. That said, society is supporting academic institutions to be the leaders in these existential changes.

Posted in Climate Change | 4 Comments