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The UK’s chief government scientist Sir John Beddington announced that world leaders need to urgently tackle climate change, especially because of increasing trends towards more extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and storms over the next 25 years. The more extreme and erratic forms of weather that the UK has experienced in recent years may become more common due to a changing climate.
Prof Sarah Curtis who is the Executive Director of the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience was interviewed by both television and radio media recently about what can be expected for the future. Prof Curtis mentioned the importance of planning with local authorities and national planning being taken by government to adapt to a changing climate, and that focused preparation and planning are needed to cope with variable climate and extreme weather events. Read more
While climate takes place over much longer periods of time than weather people can still perceive it with some level of accuracy. A range of recent studies have shown that climate knowledge can spread through communities within a number of different settings. Indigenous communities for example, many of whom live most of their lives outdoors, likely experience changes in climate much differently from people who spend most of their time indoors within more controlled settings (see Making indigenous voices on climate change heard).
The context of climate change is important for communicating its impacts on the planet and society. If climate change science can’t relate to people’s everyday lives it makes it seem less important, even though we may have only a small glimpse of what climate change actually means for the planet as a whole and the flora and fauna that inhabit it.
In many cases people’s ideas about climate change may come primarily from the mass media, but to see this problem of climate communication as the responsibility of the media alone seems rather unrealistic. The fact remains that most media organisations have their own values embedded within their respective institutions and they normally succumb to market demands, rather than social or cultural values that are much wider ranging and long-term including those of science. Reportage of climate change is often influenced by political orientation especially for publications that give ‘climate scepticism’ equal footing with scientific consensus on climate change. Read more
Desertification is not only a problem for the countries that experience it, but for the entire planet. In this talk given by Allan Savory on TED, he explains how managing grasslands ‘holistically’ can reduce desertification, namely ‘by keeping cattle more densely packed on small plots of land and moving them frequently‘. This keeps herds from overgrazing and fertilises the land at the same time, restoring its nutrients. And if you can prevent grasslands from turning into desert they can remove carbon dioxide from the air, helping to mitigate carbon emissions that cause climate change. Simple, yet effective and cattle grazing, often viewed as ecologically destructive, becomes an environmental solution, not a problem. It also seems a great way to assist pastoralist communities in Africa.
An interesting infographic from LearnStuff.com for provoking discussion about climate change and could be used as an educational tool for younger audiences. I think it’s also important to keep in mind that further research, discussion and debate on the degree of environmental change that human-induced climate change plays a role in is imperative to adaptation efforts. How people experience climate change firsthand is an area of research that will likely play a greater role in both climate change mitigation and adaptation throughout the world.