22 Feb 11

We're not lawyers, but we've seen them on TV

Dear Adaptation Mavens,

Sea-level rise in Florida and associated impacts are being documented today, we will soon have to acknowledge that Florida is drowning in a slow-motion disaster. In the meantime, Florida communities are taking serious steps towards Post-Disaster Planning (i.e. what to do about waterfront property when the next hurricane blows it away). Can the right to rebuild be taken away from coastal property owners? Do municipalities have to rebuild infrastructure to service those properties? These property rights questions are common to sea-level rise retreat strategies and post-hurricane response.

Please send ice cream before the waters rise.


Habeas Corpus


Dear Legal Eagle,

First, the Mavens want to make it perfectly clear that we are not lawyers, have never attended law school and don’t even know many lawyers, so we are not going to give legal advice. However, as former academics we are always happy to share what we know (and even what we don’t know) and proffer a random opinion.

24 Jan 11

A species vacuum?

Dear Adaptation Mavens,

I’ve been reading up on climate change and what effects it may have, and there’s something that’s got me a little puzzled. Lots of stories talk about how species are shifting towards the poles or higher up on mountains—does this mean that eventually there will be hardly any species left near the equator? And how the heck can plants shift their range at all since they can’t really move?

Confused About Range Shifts


15 Dec 10

An Adaptation Carol: A Climate Change Ghost Story

With apologies to Charles Dickens

Chapter 1: Stationarity’s ghost

Stationarity[1] was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of its burial was signed by the world’s climatologists, the United Nations, the leaders of most countries, and the general public who cared to look around.

22 Nov 10

Want fiscal responsibility? Adapt now!

Dear Adaptation Mavens,

I don’t mean to gloat, but I’m just thrilled with the recent election results in the United States and rejection of climate change legislation in Canada. At last we’re going to get some fiscal responsibility back into our lives, along with a much-needed dose or reality. No more of these climate change zombies screaming that “the sky is falling” and claiming that we have to spend heaps of money to prepare for something that isn’t even real. The liberal elite may have been willing to shell out billions of dollars for climate adaptation, but the conservatives know a load of bunk when they see it. Why are the two of you still writing this silly column when it’s clear that the liberal agenda is failing?

Having A Heck of A Holiday

26 Sep 10

The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf of Sea Level Rise

Dear Adaptation Mavens,

We have an office betting pool and are wagering on the best way to deal with sea level rise. Should we build sea walls or just move out of the way? There’s a lot riding on the right answer. We agreed that it would take decades of waiting to see the right answer for ourselves, so have agreed in the meantime to have you settle the debate.

Awaiting your reply,

Getting Anxious, Maybe Becoming a Little Eager for Reassurance


We’re not sure if we can settle your bet—the “right” answer to a question like this is dependent on your local situation--but we can tell you what people, organizations, and governments are doing and how they’ve decided what’s right for them.

Start by thinking about planning for sea level rise in terms of the fairy tale about the three little pigs….only different.

24 Aug 10

Building a house without a plan

Dear Adaptation Mavens,

I’ve finally convinced my boss that climate change is real and that we need to act now to reduce our vulnerability to climate change. But I can’t believe it—before actually DOING something, he wants to spend valuable time and money on a vulnerability assessment. Don’t we already know enough to act?

Distressed in the Dakotas

Dear DiD,

14 Jul 10

We Adapt, Therefore We Are

Dear Adaptation Mavens,

I’m pretty sure I believe climate change is happening and that I should be doing something about it. I manage a boreal forest reserve and things sure seem different. But then I read the polls that say that some people aren’t sure it’s real and maybe it’s all the talk of dishonest scientists. Am I a dupe to believe its real? Should I actually do anything or wait to see how it pans out?


Idle Hands

15 Mar 10

Adaptation: Now more than ever

Ah, Copenhagen. We pinned our hopes and dreams on that Scandinavian city, and our hearts have been broken. They were not broken by the Danes mind you, but by all the people of the world who could not come to an agreement and save their own ship. Fingers crossed for better luck at the next meeting in Cancun later this year.

In the meantime we should not sit on our collective hands and wait. Rather we should take up the cause as a personal (or organizational, or national) matter and change our own actions to match our now committed climate changed reality.