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CGA Forum 2015 Climate Change Workgroup

2015 CGA Group Photo cropped

This year’s Common Ground Alliance (CGA) Forum was held on July 15 in Long Lake.  Most of the day was devoted to workgroup activity around 9 topics, one of which was the region’s response to climate change, which we led.  Fourteen people participated in our workgroup and we had very productive and creative discussions.  The summary report on our discussions is available here.

Of particular note was the “fantasy stretch goal” that we were challenged to come up with by the Forum organizers.  Our group put forth the idea that we should set ourselves the goal of doing better than net zero with respect to emissions.  We should have net negative emissions.  This would come about by the combination of dramatically reducing our emissions, in line with what everyone should be doing to combat climate change, and strengthening the health and carbon storage capabilities of our forests and soils through the latest forest management and agricultural practices.  That’s a strategy that we can sign up for!

Report Available on Second Adirondack Regional Responses to Climate Change

On June 15 & 16 we held the second scenario development workshop in our new series on how the region responds to the threat of disruptive climate change.  The full report on the workshop is now available. A diverse and engaged group of 29 people came together for the workshop and really advanced our thinking on these issues.  We encourage you to read the report.  We will continue the discussion at the CGA Forum on July 15 in Long Lake.  Please join our workgroup at the Forum.  The details on how to register are in the previous post.

Registration for the 2015 CGA Forum is Open

The 2015 Common Ground Alliance Forum details and registration information have been released.  It will be at the same Long Lake location as usual on July 15.

Click here to go to the registration and information page.

Jim and I will be there to lead the working group considering how the ADK region might think about responding to climate change.  We have held 2 full two day workshops on the topic – one at Paul Smiths College during a snowstorm last December, another just this week, June 15 and 16 in Chestertown.  Also we held the prototype of a 3-4 hour version of this with a sustainability class at Paul Smiths in May, just before finals, on  Sunday, and 50+ students came.  We also worked in the Southwest this past winter, with the Dept of Interior Climate Science Center in Tuscon and learned a lot about how the west is handling the impacts of climate change on large scale conservation landscapes.  So we will have a lot of information to offer for consideration by people who come to our working group.

Hope to see you on July 15.  There are a number of other work group too, don’t read this and think the Forum is only about climate change.  Click on the link above and find out about the whole agenda.

 

Next Workshop on Adirondack Responses to Climate Change

We are accepting registrations for the next two-day workshop on Adirondack Regional Responses to Climate Change to be held on June 15 and 16 at the Chestertown Town Hall.  This workshop requires pre-registration.  It offers the opportunity dig deeply into the issues that climate change presents for our region and the possible responses we might make.  The report on the previous workshop can be found in an earlier blog post.  If you are interested please email jim12942@gmail.com.

Workshop at The Wild Center May 16 on Welcoming LGBT Visitors

The Adirondack Diversity Advisory Council (ADAC) is holding a training workshop at the Wild Center on Saturday May 16 from 9:30am to 1:30pm.  The workshop is designed to hep participants provide a more welcoming environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who want to live in or visit the Adirondack Park.  The workshop will be led by well known author and educator Brian McNaught.  This is part of a growing effort to raise awareness of diversity issues in the Park and to take steps to be more welcoming to a broader set of visitors and new residents.

Dave and I know Brian personally and can say that he is really good. You may think that you are fine with gays, etc., but are you really aware of the issues that transgender people face?  There is a lot for us all to learn.  We will be there and hope to see you there.

CGA Annual Forum Survey Available to Take

The annual CGA Forum will be in Long Lake on Wednesday July 15, 2015.

As they did last year, the CGA Core Team has prepared an online survey of potential work group topics for this year’s Forum.  Please take the survey as part of designing this year’s forum.

The survey asks you to identify the issues you want to work on in small groups at the Forum.  We need you to pick some from a long list of ideas.  Please complete the survey by April 1st even if you can’t attend the Forum.

Click here to take the survey.

Summary of Results of First Adirondack Regional Responses to Climate Change Workshop

On December 11 and 12, 2014 a diverse set of 32 scientists, policy makers, government officials, non-profit leaders and concerned citizens mapped out different ways in which our region might respond to the threat of disruptive climate change. As we did for the ADK Futures project, we are using a scenario planning approach in which we consider multiple plausible outcomes for 25 years from now and map out pathways to get to them using events that could happen between now and the outcome horizon.  The full documentation of the workshop is available.  Here we present a summary of results.  Future posts will explore some of the issues raised.

The issues and options with regard to climate change are notoriously complex and because what we do will be affected by what happens elsewhere, we can’t just consider scenarios at the regional level.  Therefore, we set the context for our regional thinking with two sets of global scenarios.  First, we presented 5 scenarios for how the global climate system might evolve over the next 25 years.  These global climate scenarios are labeled:

  • C1: Gradual Change
  • C2: Faster Change
  • C3: Pause Ends
  • C4: Non-Linear
  • C5: Unpredictable

After some discussion, we asked the participants to rank order these climate scenarios from most probable over the next 25 years to least probable.  Here are the results:

global climate ranking table result

The result is pretty clear:  the most difficult to deal with climate possibilities (C4 Non-Linear and C5 Unpredictable) are the most likely (tied for first) and the most benign ones are the least likely.  Get ready for more bad weather.

Next, we presented 5 scenarios for the human race might respond to the threat of climate change at the global level.  Climate change is a problem whose worst consequences can only be prevented by global action.  These global response scenarios are labeled:

  • G1: Governments in Gear
  • G2: Bottom Up Progress
  • G3: Private Sector Leads
  • G4: The Oblique Path to Progress
  • G5: Panic!

Again, after some discussion, we asked the participants to rank order these climate scenarios from most probable over the next 25 years to least probable.  Here are the results:

global response ranking table result

This result puts most faith in the private sector(G3) and bottom up efforts (G2) and has the lowest expectations of success for top-down, national government-led efforts (G1).  This is realistic but it isn’t clear that we can avert damaging climate change without G1 and a truly global solution.

With this as context, the workshop focused on 6 scenarios about how the Adirondack Region responds over the next 25 years. These regional responses are labeled:

  • A: Minimize Our Carbon Footprint
  • B: Prepare for the Worst
  • C: Hyper-Green Human Refuge
  • D: Climate Change Laboratory
  • E: Don’t Panic
  • F: Reaching a Regional Tipping Point

After almost a full day of analysis and then a spirited half-day of plenary debate, we asked the participants to rank order these six regional response scenarios on desirability and attainability, just as we did with the Adirondack Futures endstates in 2011 and 2012.  Here are the results:

regional after ranking result

Unlike in the Adirondack Futures result (which we said at the time was highly unusual), the most desirable outcome here A, where we lower our carbon footprint, is the least attainable. Why this is so will be the subject of a future post. The scenario that got the most endorsement for action in the workshop is B, the one focused on proactive adaptation with the expectation of serious climate change in the future.  Scenario C, which says the region will be a winner on balance because of climate change, was viewed skeptically. The narrowly focused science and research scenario D was viewed as difficult to pull off and didn’t address enough of the region’s needs.   Scenario E that took a pragmatic, measured approach was seen as easy to do but undesirable.  Scenario F in which the region is badly wrecked by climate change was obviously undesirable but received a fairly high attainability score.

The end of the workshop was devoted to sketching out ways in which multiple endstates and layers of endstates might be integrated into a more complete roadmap for the next 25 years and beyond. One synthesis depicted change over time at both the global climate level (top), global response level (x-axis) and regional level (bottom).

adk cc synthesis diagram

The climate will worsen, eventually changing non-linearly.  The G2 (Bottom Up) and G3 (Private Sector) global responses predominate at first followed by more of a G4 (Oblique) approach and then finally as the climate worsens still, G1 (Top-Down) kicks in.  Regionally there is a lot of focus on mitigation and clean energy (A) especially as the private sector brings the costs down.  The intensity of our regional efforts will follow the triggers of the global scenarios with B (Adaptation) and C (Human Refuge) dominating over time. Seems likely that B and C will end up dwarfing everything else as the climate gets bad. In their view, D (Laboratory) is flat over time and so is E (Don’t Panic).  You continue to do smart, practical things (E) and you do great science although funding might be tighter in the future as money goes to adaptation.

In future posts we will dig into specific scenarios and their implications.