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Climate change poses seemingly insurmountable obstacles for the human species, not to mention all other species on the planet. It is not the only environmental pressure that humans are putting on planet Earth, but seems to be intricately tied to all others including the shrinking availability of natural resources necessary for survival.

Whatever you may think of TED, these talks help define the climate conundrum people are in at the moment and speak about ways of cultivating resilience by preparing for environmental change, such as extreme weather events.

The speakers talk about climate change in terms of ecological systems as well as personal impacts to homes and livelihoods. Relating the big picture of ongoing environmental disasters like climate change to the small, individual lives of communities seems one of the best ways to communicate its impacts and to encourage people to ready themselves for when they occur.

10th March 2014, 13:00 to 14:00, Seminar Room 010, Dept of Geography, Professor Alberto Montanari, University of Bologna, Italy


The damages and fatalities caused by floods are dramatically increasing in many countries of the world, including in Europe and developing regions. Scientists have long investigated the possible reasons for the raising severity of floods, in order to devise efficient strategies for mitigating the above damages. There is a general consensus that is widely amplified by media, that climate change is the most important triggering factor of the increased flood hazard and vulnerability. This seminar will give an overview of recent research on this subject and will provide a forward-looking perspective on the impact of floods on human activity. Read the rest of this entry »

resilienceA new policy and practice note that disseminates findings from the BIOPICCC project was published by the Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) research partnership and is now available online.

The brief authored by Executive Director of IHRR Professor Sarah Curtis, Dr Jonathan Wistow and Dr Val Dimitri, ‘Ensuring resilience in care for older people’, provides guidance for care services for older people to ensure the resilience of their infrastructures and systems to withstand future impacts of climate change. Read the rest of this entry »

20th January 2014, 13:00 to 14:00, CLC 203, Calman Learning Centre, Professor David Held, Director, Institute of Global Policy, Durham University


Growing interdependence requires greater global cooperation, but across a range of issues multilateral policy making seems to have stalled. I argue that this growing gap between the need for global governance and the ability of intergovernmental institutions to provide it must be understood as a general and conjunctural state of the multilateral order, which I term ‘gridlock’. The causes of gridlock are diverse – rising multipolarity, institutional inertia, harder problems, increased complexity – but can be found across a range of global issue areas. Importantly, these drivers are, in part, products of previous, successful cooperation over the postwar period, and can therefore be understood as ‘second-order’ cooperation problems. I argue that a process of self-reinforcing interdependence has altered the nature of global politics over the past decades, and has therefore in part undermined the ability of multilateral institutions to sustain the very interdependence they have helped to create. The seminar will discuss this argument in the context of global environmental cooperation and the limits of its achievements. Read the rest of this entry »


For those of you who may not have come across the latest Tipping Points Annual Report yet, it provides the latest updates from the project. Tipping Points is now entering its fourth year of interdisciplinary research in climate change, the global financial crisis, mathematical tipping points and the tipping point metaphor itself.

Since the project started in summer 2010 it has questioned the fundamental understanding of tipping points in nature and society and has thus far produced a large body of work, with more publications to be uploaded to its website in the near future. This report includes field updates from paleoclimate research in the Arctic, historical bank failures in Britain, health tipping points and the agency of language.

Tipping Points Annual Report 2012-13


Percentage increase in the number of heat wave events per year between baseline (1961-1990) and 2030s.  (Data derived from the UKCP09 Weather Generator
(Version 2) under the medium Co2 emissions scenario). BIOPICCC

This summer has in some cases tested the limits of the UK’s ability to endure extreme weather in the form of heat waves.  This will also likely also be a pressing issue for the short and long-term future.  A recent study published in Environment Research Letters predicts that unusually, extreme hot weather events experienced throughout the world will increase in extent and frequency.  WMO (World Meteorological Organisation) have reported on the rise in extreme weather and global temperature and have made similar predictions.  According to the research, five percent of the land area of Earth has experienced heat extremes far beyond the norm for summer.  Researchers note in the study that while certain areas of the world have received the most press coverage of heat wave events, the strongest increase in heat extremes is in the tropics when compared with historic variability.  The Mediterranean has also had a strong increase in climate extremes recently. Read the rest of this entry »

BSF purple Newcastle aw

IHRR’s Tipping Points project will be at the 2013 British Science Festival in Newcastle with the event Tipping Points in Nature and Society on Wednesday, 11 September.  You can now book this event on the British Science Festival’s website.  We have put together a fascinating group of presentations for the festival and plan to have some exciting discussions about critical thresholds that affect nature and society.  How does a bank network collapse?  How can we better understand present and future climate change?  How do terms like ‘tipping point’ spread? Do they have meaning or are they simply meaningless buzz words?  These plus a series of other related questions will be explored at Tipping Points in Nature and Society.


Critical Transitions in Climate

What can studying the climate of the distant past tell us about our present climate? Rapid changes in climate have occurred in the past, long before direct measurements were made, but are these ‘tipping points’ in the climate system? Does irreversible change happen? Climate scientists Professor Antony Long, Dr Eleanor Maddison and Dr Sarah Woodroffe will help shed some light on the mystery of abrupt environmental change by introducing how studying past climate change can help us understand what changes may be in store for our planet in the future. Read the rest of this entry »

surface temp

Global temperature rising. World Meteorological Organization

From 2001-10 there have been unprecedented extremes in global climate with more national temperature records broken than in any previous decade, according to a recent report from the World Meteorological Organization. For many this may not seem like news, it has been known for some time that the planet’s climate(s) has been changing radically for some years. Even people in their everyday lives are able to perceive with some accuracy changes in climate. What the report highlights is that these extremes have worsened in recent years, especially in regards to their impacts on human life and economy.  During 2001-10 more than 370,000 people died as a result of extreme weather and climate conditions. This includes heat waves, floods, cold snaps, drought and storms.

Is every extreme weather event due to a changing climate? This is something that requires further research because of the complexities involved. What researchers can say is that it’s more likely for extreme weather events such as heat waves to occur more frequently because of climate change, and with increased intensity. This makes planning challenging, nevertheless it needs to happen. People can learn from extreme weather events that have taken place around the world in order to plan for the present and future. Climate adaptation, while less attractive in some cases to mitigation and more recently geoengineering techniques, has a major role to play in mitigating the impacts of extreme weather events. Read the rest of this entry »


IHRR is pleased to announce that the Tipping Points project will be participating in the British Science Festival in September with the following Main Programme event:

Tipping Points in Nature and Society

Date/Time: 11 September, Wednesday 12.30-14.00
Location: Fine Art Lecture Theatre, Fine Art Building, Newcastle University

How does sudden radical change occur? Join researchers on their quest to explore the world’s ‘tipping points’.

Critical transitions or ‘tipping points’ influence science, society and the planet, from climate change to financial crises. This event presents tipping points studied in nature and society by researchers from multiple disciplines.

To book this event visit and scroll down to ‘Tipping Points in Nature and Society’.

Researchers will also be participating in the Young People’s Programme part of the festival with an activity on how information spreads through social networks. Check it out on page 10 of the young people’s festival guide.

This two-day workshop at Durham University 18-19 June 2013 is organised by the Cost Action IS1101 Climate Change and Migration project led by Dr Andrew Baldwin.  The workshop will feature the following seminars and features Key Note presentations from David Theo Goldberg and Uma Kothari:

Keynote Address

David Theo Goldberg (University of California, Irvine)

Parting Waters: Seas of Movement

Uma Kothari (University of Manchester)
Colonial Representations and Island Imaginaries: Racialised Narratives of Climate Change and Migration

Biopolitical Perspectives

Julian Reid (University of Lapland)
The Biopolitics of Climate-Induced Migration

Arun Saldanha (Lancaster University)
Climate Change as Biopolitical Assemblage: How Global Capitalism Produces Racial Difference

Arne Harms (FU Berlin)
Shipwrecked Islands and Spectators: Thinking through Climate Change with Blumenberg Read the rest of this entry »

Hazard Risk Resilience Magazine Issue 2 Out Now!

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