Preparing to Continue “Living on Earth” in the Climate of the Future

by Ritu Jain on April 21, 2014

Adjusting to change can be stressful and adjusting to significant broad threats can be destabilizing to society. Physical and social disruptions from a changing climate come in many forms.  Some are severe and obvious like sea level rise and flooding, which are the focus of many adaptation studies and planning guidance. However, destabilizing climate effects may also emerge in areas we haven’t even thought of yet and may be unprepared to address adequately — at least when they initially appear.


Earth – a system of systems:  The system of intertwined physical, ecological, and social systems, which make up “living on Earth” reveal themselves in often unsuspected ways.  For example, a warming southwest United States and other locations means more frequent and intense wildfires.  Soot transported from the fires (and other sources) can blacken glaciers, which melt faster and accelerate additional warming and lead to more wildfires. Understanding, projecting and providing guidance for planning for social adjustments is a prime concern of scientists and decision makers in the United States and across the globe. The adjustments are necessary but society is continually adjusting and the good news is that there are pathways forward to continuing “living on Earth”.   

What the experts are saying about adaptation in the united States: In the first week of May,  the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) plans to release the report of the third U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA).  The NCA is a climate status report authorized every four years under the Global Change Research Act of 1990. It is based on the best available science and written by hundreds of scientists and experts from academia; government; the private; and non-profit sectors.

The USGCRP released the draft report for public comment nearly a year ago. The Security and Sustainability forum hosted a series last year on the draft NCA findings.  For free access to those recordings join SSF for free at .  The recordings are posted under the Archive tab on the website.

In partnership with Second Nature, the National Council on Science and the Environment, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and Adaptation International,  SSF is reconvening the leaders of the assessment to discuss new insights and implications from the final report.

Registration is open for the  NCA webinar:

The National Climate Assessment Recommendations and Implications
May 9, 2014
11:30 to 1:00 PM EST

The panel includes

  • Kathy Jacobs: Director, Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions, University of Arizona. Formerly, Director of the National Climate Assessment, and Assistant Director for Climate Assessments and Adaptation, White House Office of Science & Technology Policy.
  • Emily Cloyd. Public Participation and Engagement Coordinator for the National Climate Assessment, USGCRP.
  • Jim Buizer: Director, Climate Adaptation and International Development, Institute of the Environment; Professor, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona. Member, Executive Committee, National Climate Assessment Development Advisory Committee
  • Anne Waple. Director of Resilience Initiatives at Second Nature, Inc.  Formerly, Program Specialist for the Global Change Information System, USGCRP

The panel will discuss the findings and their implications and take questions from the audience.

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