The Collaborative Institute

Building Connections

January 31, 2012
by The Collaborative Institute for Oceans, Climate and Security (CIOCS)
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Texas Drought the Product of Climate Change?

Is the 2011 Texas drought the product of climate change? NASA’s James Hansen and his colleagues say it is. Most scientists choose not to link specific weather events to climate change trends, but they’ve gathered data they say shows that the 2011 heat wave that hit both Texas and Oklahoma was “a consequence of global warming because their likelihood was negligible prior to the recent rapid global warming.” Using over 50 years’ worth of temperature data, the group feels they can definitively argue that the heat wave in Texas and Oklahoma wouldn’t have occurred without global warming.

Even if you’re not ready to argue that this particular incident is a direct result of climate change, it is easy to see the enormous ramifications of the heat wave for Texas and how these effects will be felt outside the Lone Star State. Certain areas are now trucking in water as their wells run dry and as they make major decisions regarding future water use, equipment, and needs. Andrew Freedman discusses how rice production may face unprecedented restrictions, cuts and even shutdowns with the current water shortage. And it’s not just rice that’s feeling the squeeze:

“The 2011-12 drought ranks as the state’s most intense one-year drought since records began in 1895. The drought has had major impacts on agriculture in the Lone Star State, particularly for cattle ranchers, causing at least $5.2 billion in agricultural losses during 2011. This includes $1.8 billion in cotton losses, $750 million in lost hay production, and $243 million in wheat losses.” Continue Reading →

June 30, 2011
by The Collaborative Institute for Oceans, Climate and Security (CIOCS)
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Food Security and Climate Change

At CIOCS we are working to make connections between climate change, human security and the world’s oceans. Recently, there’s been plenty of news about our warming planet and the impact this has on food security, which relates directly to human security. As Justin Gillis shows in this NY Times article from early June, consumption of basic food items is increasing while production is stagnant or even decreasing. This difference leads to higher food prices, which has a direct impact on social conditions and can lead to volatile situations, as seen in recent years. As Gillis articulates, science has helped show that climate change is helping to destabilize the food system. As climate changes, so do weather patterns. Changing “norms” mean that agriculture has to adapt, while extreme weather and natural disasters disrupt production altogether. All of these changes have put an increased strain on water supplies and on the farmers themselves. The article demonstrates how agricultural production has changed in past decades, often in response to changing technology and demands. As agricultural demands and climate change, people worldwide may experience more unstable social conditions, such as poverty, food or water shortages, or even violence.

Thomas Friedman’s recent Op-Ed piece helps put this increased strain in another light. He breaks down a recent book by Paul Gilding, a veteran Australian environmentalist-entrepreneur, called The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World. Gilding’s work shows that currently humans are using about 1.5 earths at the current global growth rates. However, we only have one planet. Essentially, we’re working at 150% of our sustainable capacity. Gilding helps show how changes are connected:

“If you cut down more trees than you grow, you run out of trees,” writes Gilding. “If you put additional nitrogen into a water system, you change the type and quantity of life that water can support. If you thicken the Earth’s CO2 blanket, the Earth gets warmer. If you do all these and many more things at once, you change the way the whole system of planet Earth behaves, with social, economic, and life support impacts. This is not speculation; this is high school science.”

In a follow-up article, Gillis poses the question, based on all the information given in the first article: “What do we need to do?” He provides a run-down of ongoing research and projects that are helping to determine answers to that very question. Specifically, he mentions the Beddington Report which examines the need for increased intensive agricultural, but with respect to economically and environmentally sustainable practices. Science and agriculture are working to determine how things are changing and what can be done to adapt or possibly turn things around.

As all of these articles demonstrate, the changing climate has a direct impact on human life and security, by impacting food supplies and the ability to sustain life through agriculture. Just as importantly, these changes impact oceans on earth, as well. 53% of the United States population lives in coastal areas, and many of those residents depend directly on the oceans for their livelihood and personal consumption. Even those who do not live near the coast depend on the oceans for food and other needs. The effects of climate change on weather patterns, the oceans, and, subsequently, human life can be seen in recent events. These events have many lessons to offer regarding preparation and adaptation for human and food security.

October 6, 2010
by The Collaborative Institute for Oceans, Climate and Security (CIOCS)
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EPA Accepting Applications for Sustainability Competition

Check out this note from the EPA on their "P3 Program."

We are announcing a unique grant opportunity for college and university faculty and students – EPA’s P3 – People, Prosperity and the Planet – Program. Through this hands-on design competition, student teams and their faculty advisors receive $15,000 grants to design scientific, technical, and policy solutions to sustainability challenges around the world. Projects can address a challenge in one or more of these areas: water, energy, agriculture, built environment, or materials & chemicals.

Teams use the $15,000 grants to design and develop their projects in the 2011/2012 school year. Then in the spring of 2012, all teams will come to Washington, DC, to compete for EPA’s P3 Award at the 8th Annual National Sustainable Design Expo. The students’ projects will be evaluated by a panel of experts convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. EPA will use these recommendations to choose the P3 Award winners who may receive an additional grant up to $90,000 to further develop their designs, implement them in the field, and take them to the marketplace.


Apply Today!
Deadline: December 22, 2010


Visit the
EPA Website for more information and to see what past P3 teams have accomplished and for the official request for applications.

Join the EPA to build a sustainable future!

 


 

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