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 15, 2011
by The Collaborative Institute for Oceans, Climate and Security (CIOCS)
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Joint Ocean Commission Initiative Leadership Council Releases New Report

The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative Leadership Council has released a new report that calls upon leaders to support implementation of the National Ocean Policy. America’s Ocean Future: Ensuring Healthy Oceans to Support a Vibrant Economy identifies four fundamental components that will ensure effective implementation:

  • Coordination of federal agency policies and activities with state, regional, tribal and local entities for collaborative reform and efficient decision-making in a transparent manner
  • Increased availability and improved collection of high-quality science and information to local, state, regional, and national entities for informed decision-making
  • Implementation of policies that allow for “protection and enhancement of sustainable economic benefits from ocean, coastal, and Great Lake resources”
  • Investment in implementing the National Ocean Policy and strategies to ensure consistent funding for “ocean and coastal science, management, and restoration, including development of a dedicated ocean investment fund”

The report offers recommendations based upon these four overarching components, which will allow the Joint Initiative to complete an assessment in the future on implementation and efficacy of the policies, investment and information made available as a result. The Joint Initiative recognizes the economic austerity the United States is currently experiencing, but acknowledges the long-term economic benefits of increased investment and acting now to implement the National Ocean Policy. Investing in education, research and policy implementation now will result in better economic circumstances and quality of life later. The report calls for a collaborative effort at all levels of government to “ensure the health of the critical ocean resources on which so many Americans depend for their livelihoods and quality of life.”

To view the Join Ocean Commission Report, visit their website at www.jointoceancommission.org.

March 4, 2011
by The Collaborative Institute for Oceans, Climate and Security (CIOCS)
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Playing Games with Climate Change

The online game, Global Warning, was recently launched in January 2011 by the National Security Journalism Initiative. It presents a fun and interesting way to learn about the human security implications of climate change, and the difficult decisions that policy makers face– and it is hard!

Players are challenged to test their knowledge in four regions of the world that are vulnerable to climate change. The player will be asked some questions that lead to a scenario where they’ll consider the various factors that would help determine the outcome of a climate emergency. Players can find out if their decision-making considerations match those of a diplomat, an aid worker, a scientist or an economist.We like it for several other reasons as well:

It is a Student-lead Initiative:
It was initiated by a Medill School of Journalism graduate student team that began publishing its findings on the national security implications of climate change online, using text, videos and interactive stories to “tell the story.” In a three-month investigation, a team of Northwestern University student reporters has found that the nation’s security establishment is not adequately prepared for many of the environmental changes that are coming faster than predicted and that threaten to reshape demands made on the military and intelligence community. This is despite the fact that the Defense Department has called climate change a potential “accelerant of instability.” (Press Release, Meddill National Security Zone)

It is Useful and Relevant:
Some within the U.S. government are bracing for climate change as one of the next major threats to national security. Is the U.S. ready for the coming risks? That is the question 10 reporters examined for this project.

Give your decision-making abilities a spin and let us know what you think of this entertaining and informative online tool!

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