In recent times New York State has experienced several emergencies as a result of weaknesses in critical infrastructure posed by climate change. These include, but are not limited to, more frequent black outs and combined sewage overflows as a result of severe storms that lead to unsanitary conditions in neighborhoods. However climate change can also create challenges in the agriculture sphere. For example higher temperature can increase crop yield but will also lead to the introduction of aggressive invasive species that will offer competition to native species and which might pose threats in terms of loss of biodiversity. Additionally human health impacts are identified to be related to climate change including increased heat-stress, morbidity and mortality rises, respiratory conditions as a result of poor air quality, as well as changes in the intensity and range of insect-borne infectious diseases. There is also always the potential for variation in pathogens which are sensitive to moisture conditions in the air and soil. While the potential extent of the variations in such conditions is not known there are initiatives in place to investigate public concerns. For more documentation regarding impacts, adaptation, and vulnerabilities please see the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is now in the process of beginning its Fifth Assessment Report.
I began my second week working at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) for the ClimAID initiative, founded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). As mentioned in my previous post, the project is similar to the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), which was Mayor Bloomberg's (in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation) response to accomplish the goals set forth in PlaNYC. The NPCC is in the process of creating three workbooks to guide the Task Force members (which consists of city, state, and federal agencies as well as public authorities and private companies that are responsible for the control of critical infrastructure in NYC) through the process of identifying climate risks and developing adaptation plans. The Climate Risk Information (CRI) workbook is a summary of climate data and future projections for NYC. It also helps identify potential risks to critical infrastructure as a result of climate change. The Adaptation Assessment Checklist (AAC) helps stakeholders in their risk-management plans, and the Climate Protection Levels (CPL) evaluates policies and regulations that govern infrastructure in attempts to determine how such rules could be influenced by climate change. This information is currently in the process of being published. I have been exposed to the process of publishing and putting together such a report in these past few weeks on the job. For more information see
ClimAID is New York State's Climate Change Adaptation Assessment. The project attempts to identify the areas in NYS that are particularly threatened by climate change and seeks to develop adaptation strategies to mitigate climate posed impacts. Key to this assignment is stakeholders that represent various sectors. The ClimAID sectors include agriculture, communications, coastal zones, ecosystems, energy, public health, transportation and water resources. The stakeholders within these sectors will put together a report that classifies at-risk regions and develop adaptation policies.
This week there is a stakeholder focus group in Albany, New York. My work for the project is expected to really take off upon their return from this meeting where I will begin working with stakeholders to gain a better idea of what they are looking for from this project, and also to work on ways to translate scientific information into an accessible and relevant form for each of the stakeholders in the various sectors.
More to come soon...