26 Nov 12

Who Doesn’t Love Some Q&A?

Greetings Fearless Readers!

One of the Mavens had the honor of moderating a happening panel discussion the other day following a webinar on adaptation. Due to time constraints, we didn’t get to all of the great questions typed in by participants, so we thought we’d answer a few of them here. Think of this as a sampler plate of still delicious Thanksgiving leftovers. Enjoy!

24 Oct 12

Where do the adaptation hipsters hang out?

Dear Mavens,

I’m all for this virtual world of ours, and I love that I can go to CAKE to find all kinds of cool adaptation examples and enthusiasts. I love that there are a growing number of on-line communities of practice related to adaptation, and some emerging on-line collaboration spaces like the Adaptation Collaboratory.

The thing is, despite all of this virtual interaction, I still feel lonely. I would LOVE to get together with lots of creative, energized people from a diversity of backgrounds to just, you know, hang around and develop brilliant adaptation ideas, share our collective wisdom, and develop BAFFs (Best Adaptation Friends Forever). There have been a couple of really interesting-sounding adaptation meetings over the past few years (Adaptation 2011, National Climate Adaptation Summit 2010), but they were invite-only. It would be great to have similar meetings that are open to newbies like me, still has all those brilliant experienced adaptationists, and invites a slew of humble municipal planners and managers of all stripes.

Do you know of any such opportunities? I’m ready to make the move from being a virtual adaptation onlooker to real-world adaptation practitioner.

Lonely in “Laramie”

Dear Lonely,

You’re in luck! At this very moment, people are coming together to plan EXACTLY the kind of event you’re looking for. It’s the first National Adaptation Forum (NAF): Action today for a better tomorrow. The goals of NAF are to:

25 Jun 12

Is reality-based thinking holding us back?

Dear Adaptation Mavens,

I know that you two like to think outside the box, so I’d like to get your thoughts on the recent trend to regulate against including climate change or its effects in planning efforts. Seems like this idea is really gaining ground and I want to know if you think it will work. I’m really sick and tired of all the doom and gloom.


Looking out for simple escape routes

Dear Lo(f)ser,

The Mavens like innovative thinking and we often encourage people to not just think outside the box but to realize that there is no box.[i] However we often also like people to develop solutions that are not reality-independent—that is we like people to create solutions that may actually work. The key is recognizing when you’re unnecessarily boxing yourself in vs. when you’re ignoring a fundamental physical reality. For example, you might think “I can’t possibly do any climate change work in my community because so many people rely on coal mining for employment.” That is an unnecessary box, and there are several examples of organizations or communities that “should” be hostile to climate change tackling the issue in real and productive ways[ii]. On the other hand, saying we don’t have to adapt to sea level rise because we don’t know whether the rate of sea level rise is going to increase or not is just trying to wish away a physical reality of our world.

29 May 12

When Does a Bloom Not Smell Sweet

Dear Mavens,

I live on the beautiful shores of Lake Erie. We’ve long ago cleaned up problems like the burning Cuyahoga River, and we’re learning how to live with challenges like invasive zebra mussels, but now climate change is contributing to the return of a problem we thought we’d gotten under control—algal blooms. I worry what this will mean for our community. Any thoughts?


Worried on the Water (a.k.a. Tom Fuhrman)

Dear WoW,

Although photosynthesis fuels much of life on Earth, harmful algal blooms are a troubling event when they become primary production gone bad. The mavens have spent quite a bit of time in places like the Gulf Coast and Puget Sound where algal blooms have meant not only diminished water quality and beach closures, but bad air quality, inability by native peoples to engage in culturally important activities, and economic losses due to closed shellfish harvest too.

24 Apr 12

How Can a Policy Be Vulnerable???

Dear Adaptation Mavens,

I’m a little confused. I read Scanning the Conservation Horizon, which said that possible vulnerability assessment targets include ecosystems, species, and habitats. Then I went to a vulnerability assessment training, and one of the instructors made some comment about doing a vulnerability assesessment on management measures or even laws and policies. I could see how you could do a vulnerability assessment on non-biological targets like infrastructure that have a real, physical presence, but how the heck do you apply concepts like exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity to a management measure or a law?

Conceptually Challenged Assessor

27 Mar 12

Everything's Coming Up Roses

Dear Adaptation Mavens,

I've recently begun working in the Adirondacks on a project focused on climate change adaptation, aquatic connectivity, and transportation infrastructure. I'd love to connect with others in North America who are working on the implementation side of adaptation. Do you know of useful listservs, fora, meetings, etc.? 


Jessica Levine

(CAKE member and Single Adaptationist In Search of Like-minded Experts)


When we created the Adaptation Mavens column we dreamed that someday someone would ask us for dating advice and I think this is as close as we’re likely to get. So thank you!

27 Feb 12

Knowing and Not Knowing

Dear Adaptation Mavens,

Here’s a topic I’m surprised hasn’t gotten more attention in your column: uncertainty. It seems to me to be the number one bugaboo for getting action on climate change, and it’s what lets so many conservatives live in denial about the importance of this issue. It’s what makes climate change so much different than all the other environmental problems we face, and quite frankly it IS hard to know what to do given that we don’t know how much climate change will happen and what it will do. So how can we move beyond climate uncertainty paralysis and actually start adapting our work to climate change?

Certainly Uncertain