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29 Apr 15

Ingeniophobia: Fact or Fear?

The Mavens received an unsolicited email yesterday from a journal interested in promoting “apprehension” of civil engineering, asking us to consider submitting manuscripts. We suspect that the authors of said email were thinking of “apprehension” meaning “increased understanding” rather than “fear,” but it got us wondering. We know some folks who fear (“loathe” might be a better term) engineered approaches to life.

21 Feb 14

Would you like some pizza with that adaptation?

Dear Mavens,

I’m writing to you about fracking. Before you say, “hey, this isn’t an adaptation issue,” hear me out. My county is home to a natural gas boom reliant on hydraulic fracturing. I’m a little concerned about this for obvious reasons (explosions, earthquakes, pollution, unpleasant) but I’m also worried because it seems like a threat to our ability to maintain a clean water supply not just now but in the future as well. As climate change progresses and we get more droughts, we’ll want to use what water we have for drinking, bathing, and growing food and livestock, not for squeezing every last vestige of gas out of the ground! We’ll also want to know that the water we DO have is safe, which is obviously difficult when companies are polluting your groundwater with chemicals they don’t have to tell you about. And your book, Climate Savvy, made mention of chemicals potentially becoming even more toxic as things heat up! While I’m not sure arguments about climate vulnerability will sway anyone who’s pro-fracking, I’d like your help thinking them through. Any leads?

Worried now and later

27 Jan 14

Daze of Wetland Worries

Dear Mavens,

I was just hired to identify and design wetland restoration projects in the Midwest, and a smart-ass friend of mine said “Hey, don’t forget to include climate change!” and forwarded me that haiku summary of the latest IPCC report. So I looked at them.

There’s lots about rising seas and glaciers melting, which don’t really apply in my area. Then there’s lots of stuff about warming, CO2, how it’ll go on for centuries, and how models are improving. Great, but I don’t know what to do with that. Wet will get wetter and dry drier—does that mean my wetland areas will be getting wetter? Will that make them a lake? I considered reading the more technical “Summary for Policy Makers,” but am I likely to get anything more relevant than what’s in the haikus? If not, where can I go to get the information I need to include climate change in my restoration work? And what does it mean to “include climate change” in my restoration work anyway?

As you may have guessed, I don’t have the time to do lots of reading and digging around, don’t have the budget to attend all kinds of meetings and conferences, and have to get a first round of proposed restoration projects to my boss for approval within the year.

Dazed and Confused


19 Dec 13

City Slicker with Rural Roots

Dear Mavens,

This being the holiday season, I’ve been thinking about family. Although I’m now an over-educated city-dweller, I grew up in a small farming community in the Midwest. Life is so hard for so many of the folks I grew up with, and climate change is making everything even worse. I want to suggest they start some community adaptation planning to make their livelihoods a bit less marginal, but I’m worried they’d just give me that “you’ve been in the big city too long” look and ignore me. Don’t know if you heard that “This American Life” episode where they talked with the Colorado State Climatologist, but it reminded me a lot of where I’m from. What can I do?

19 Jun 13

Adaptation Double Header!

In honor of baseball season the Mavens are offering two questions for the price of one!

Dear Mavens,

I am a coral reef manager in South Florida. I want to integrate climate change into my work but am having some trouble finding the information I need. I realize that there are data and tools out there for me to use but none of them seem to make sense for the questions I need help with. I’ll admit I have not looked very deeply but before I spend a year going through it all I was hoping you could point me in the right direction.




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