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Thread: Global warming: reacting to change

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    Global warming: reacting to change

    OK I'm totally new to this forum so I may be totally out of my depth posting on here, but hey, the best way to learn is to get your arm bitten off, so here goes.

    With the majority of climatic scientists accepting that global warming is a reality, what role do you see for planners in helping society to adapt to a warming planet?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Guy View post
    With the majority of climatic scientists accepting that global warming is a reality, what role do you see for planners in helping society to adapt to a warming planet?
    I have been asking myself this very same question in recent months. Right now, all I've come up with is "wait and see," mostly because it seems premature to plan for disasters - assuming global warming will increase the incidence and impact of Katrina-like natural phenomena - that have not yet occurred.

    Much of the work by climate change scientists, it seems to me, has not addressed how climate change will affect land use patterns. There's some great stuff out there by Stanford scientists on ecological change, and of course there's Al Gore's movie, An Inconveient Truth. I've been meaning to read Planning for the Unplanned, but have yet to get myself a copy. The author is a planner at Moule and Polyzoides.

    I am afraid the predicted consequences of climate change will go beyond our worst fears and planners, policy-makers, and elected leaders will be totally unprepared to deal with a changed world. I'd like to think otherwise, but we've had our heads in the sand too long and there's no turning back.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Programs like CMAQ
    http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/cmaqpgs/

    Transportation Control Measures, and of course permitting for industrial sites and land use.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  4. #4
    Cyburbian iamme's avatar
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    I would say that planners should not try to plan for lower emissions. Generally, they don't have the political mandate or the means to accomplish anything significant.

    It would make better sense for the federal government to have a cap and trade system, and planners allow themselves to watch the economics ripple away through the built environment. It seems to me that anything less is merely wishful thinking.

    Sorry to be a grump so early...

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    buy more golf shirts?

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    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    After giving this some more serious thought, for the short-term I know we can:

    1) Educate the public about climate change and its potential effects on human settlements
    2) Promote green building design through incentives
    3) Promote the design of urban and suburban developments around areas of shade and trees
    4) Local units of government can revise plans and ordinances to address flood prone areas, coastal areas, and other areas of natural significance
    5) Regional planning agencies (if you have them) can identify disaster relief areas and temporary locations for "refugee" settlements
    6) Develop a sound water policy (for those of us in the Great Lakes region) that involves all national, international, and local interests

    I think we're in a mode where we must react and adapt to the effects of climate change. I think it's too late for prevention.

  7. #7
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    My attitude is that climate change is going to occur.

    We have to reduce emmissions to minimise the potential effects but we also need to accept that it is too late to stop climate change.

    My opinion is that instead of talking about simply reducing emmissions we now need to look at ways to adapt to the changing climate.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    I think there a lot that planners can do:

    1. protect water supplies through land use regulations (identifying critical lands in general plans, creating an action plan to acquire those lands, create development right transfer zones to help keep those lands open but also provide an economic incentive to the owner;

    2. help foster a development pattern that provides people choices in terms of lifestyle and that provides them options in terms of mobility. It also must focus on design versus use.

    3. Adopt sustainable development guidelines, including green building, locally produced food supplies, fostering local business development through economic development programs,

    this is just a start. I don't care what causes climate change, but we must be able to adapt to it to avoid an economic disaster. One thing that never gets mentioned because of the controversy involved with it, but regardless of what we do, if we don't start limiting the number of children we have, all the preventitive measures we take will only delay the end result. The worlds population simply cannot continue to grow at the rate it is. I think we are an advanced enough species to eventually figure out that not having more than a small handful of kids is better than watching your larger handful of kids starve to death.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    While I think that global warming is happening and man has excellerated the process, I would like more historical data about climate change. It's been my observation that when man tries to tinker with the natural world too much, man creates more harm than good. Often times it because man has not taken the time to fully study and understand the natural world and its processes.

    Once we have a better grasp of the dynamics of the climate, we can chose the best route correct the problems we created. Be this on a world-wide level or a local planning level.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner View post
    While I think that global warming is happening and man has excellerated the process, I would like more historical data about climate change. It's been my observation that when man tries to tinker with the natural world too much, man creates more harm than good. Often times it because man has not taken the time to fully study and understand the natural world and its processes.

    Once we have a better grasp of the dynamics of the climate, we can chose the best route correct the problems we created. Be this on a world-wide level or a local planning level.
    I think Climate Change is different. We know what the world was like without the types of pollution that we are putting in the air. It is very easy and logical to say that the worldd would be better with a decrease in air pollution (and as a bi product of that, a decrease in the greenhouse emitions). There is no way that we can correct what has been done, the only hope is to stem the tide and look to new technologies and innovations to reduce our dependence on non reusable resources and in return keep things from getting worse.

    For an example, just imagine if every house had solar shingles? I'm not talking about the large, obtrusive, non efficient solar panels of the past, but new technology that can produce enough power from the suns rays to power an individual home and in some cases add power tothe grid, even on the cloudiest of days. I have no idea how many more households there are now in this country, but if we could turn our power usages back to 1950 levels, how much money would be saved in terms of not having tobuild more power plants, how much natural gas would be saved from gas burning power plants, we may not even need to consider building things like hydro dams, nuclear power plants, etc.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Here is an article that I came across a while back. It title is ways to achieve energy independence but it suggestions are definately in the realm of planning, architcture and policy design.
    http://www.indyweek.com/gyrobase/Con...id=oid%3A33795

    I think that helping to address climate change and promoting sustainable communities could be planning's greatest contribution to society for the 21st centrury.

  12. #12
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    Hello all, I'm new here.

    What planners need to do will certainly depend on where they are. Global warming won't necessarily generate the same effect everywhere. In fact, northern Europe is bound to get colder due to changes in the gulf streams. Some areas will see more rain, other areas less rain. I would gauge that the changes in precipitation levels will be more important than temperatures.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Jess's avatar
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    Climate Change and Global Warming

    Some sort of environmental issues about the topic.

    http://www.globalissues.org/EnvIssues/GlobalWarming.asp

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Jess's avatar
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    Top 10 Things You can do to Rduce Global Warming


  15. #15
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Wanigas? View post
    After giving this some more serious thought, for the short-term I know we can:

    1) Educate the public about climate change and its potential effects on human settlements
    2) Promote green building design through incentives
    3) Promote the design of urban and suburban developments around areas of shade and trees
    4) Local units of government can revise plans and ordinances to address flood prone areas, coastal areas, and other areas of natural significance
    5) Regional planning agencies (if you have them) can identify disaster relief areas and temporary locations for "refugee" settlements
    6) Develop a sound water policy (for those of us in the Great Lakes region) that involves all national, international, and local interests

    I think we're in a mode where we must react and adapt to the effects of climate change. I think it's too late for prevention.
    I agree completely and would add educate developers!
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  16. #16
    Cyburbian gicarto's avatar
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    I think we are missing the point hear

    We have been told that global warming is caused by humanity. How do we know that? You know what I think? The Earth gets it's heat from the Sun and the Sun is basically a large fusion bomb. The Sun goes through many changes and it has a lot of storms that throw flares into the Solar System (Northern Lights). There also have been periods of time that the Sun has been quiet and not producing many Solar flares. I am willing to bet that the weather conditions of the Sun are the main cause for warming and cooling cycles on the Earth.

    There are also many other environmental characteristics that have led to this period of warming. For example, we have not had a significant volcano explosion in a long time.

    There is a documented occurrence of Global Warming in the middle ages and a mini- Ice Age in the 1800s. The Globe is constantly changing and it will always change. We can't stop the climate from changing. Think about this to. Everything that man uses comes from the Earth. We can't pollute it.

    I'm not trying to make a stink here but I don't think we are getting the whole scientific story here. This world and this solar system are so complex and minuscule that it is impossible to understand any of it.

    Humanity cannot not control the Earth. Man lives at the mercy of the Earth.
    Trying to get my grubby hands on as much stimulus money as I can.:D

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by gicarto View post
    Everything that man uses comes from the Earth. We can't pollute it.
    This statement is crazy. We can't pollute it? We have altered the natural state of things for a very long time. Is there any natural occurring process that can split atoms? We can change every substance on earth from it's natural state. We can and do combine naturally occurring elements to things that are detrimental to the health of people, plants and animals. Do millions of gallons of oil suddenly appear in Valdez Alaska without an oil tanker? Do rivers all over the place naturally have enough flamable liquids on the surface to catch fire? Even relocated these elements to places wehre they are not naturally found is a form of pollution. I think you are way off base with this comment.

    Several people have posted about naturally occurring climate change. Most people understand that climate change, whether it be natural or man made, will have significant impacts on mankind. This thread is about how to plan for that change to lessen the impacts on our environment, economy, social lifes, etc.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by gicarto View post
    We have been told that global warming is caused by humanity. How do we know that?
    Along with the scientific community we can seem to agree that global warming exists. Can we all agree the increased amounts of carbon in the atmosphere over the last 30+ years have at least contributed to warming? If so, there can be little doubt that humanities behaviors are having and effect on the climate, particularly releasing carbon which would have naturally been locked in the earth for millions of years. Coupled with the effect of humans clearing the carbon consuming forests, it’s not hard to imagine a significant climate change. Human behavior is directly part of the problem whether or not there are some external factors at play.

    Your right that we will always live at the mercy of earth but we may be quickly (in geologic time) creating an earth that won’t support humans.

    I don’t want to flame your post because you’re definitely entitled to your opinion. I just think it’s hard to support your position with some of the established scientific research out there.

    On a side note I saw a history channel documentary that placed the mini ice age from approximately 1200 to 1800.

    Its a proud day to be a Californian, after the Gov signed a bill to meet Kyoto emission standards!

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    Oh, Climate Change... (please it sounds better than GW, and it's a broader term), it's nothing new and it's happened always, like gicarto said, our Sun is the most important source of energy for the climate system, and changes in the energy input affects climate way more than anything that humankind could ever imagine doing.

    As for Greenhouse Gas emissions, CO2 has a tendency to fluctuate, and of course adding human emissions it is now the most controverted and most over-rated greenhouse gas. Nevermind that water vapor or Methane have a bigger effect, or also that if we didn't have greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere the earth would have an average temperature of around -25șC or so.

    What can urban planning do to adapt to climate change? Advocating for greener cities, energy and resource sustainability, increase awareness of natural disasters linked to weather conditions, such as hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, floods, droughts, etc.

  20. #20
          bluehour's avatar
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    cars too!

    The other piece (or atleast another piece) of the climate change/global warming puzzle are the decreasing oil supplies.

    How will our cities run without cheap and easy oil?

  21. #21
    Cyburbian iamme's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SkeLeton View post
    As for Greenhouse Gas emissions, CO2 has a tendency to fluctuate, and of course adding human emissions it is now the most controverted and most over-rated greenhouse gas. Nevermind that water vapor or Methane have a bigger effect, or also that if we didn't have greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere the earth would have an average temperature of around -25șC or so.
    If you're making comparisons to an earth without CO2, you have missed the point.

  22. #22
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    A recent scientific study (see http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/conten.../306/5702/1686) evaluated 928 peer reviewed scientific studies and found that zero - ZERO - disagreed with the scientific consensus that human activity is causing climate change.

    We have a moral obligation to try and ensure that future generations aren't slammed by our failing to adapt. As California and hundreds of US cities are finding, there is all kinds of economic opportunity to be found in doing things better.

    As planners, we can and should play a key role by designing more compact communities with transportation choices, housing choices, and green building standards. Luckily, these same things can also help us adapt to an aging population, rising tax burdens to pay for infrastructure, and protect farmland and natural spaces.

    We can play a crucial part in educating our local government officials and citizens about the need for adapting. Planners are lucky enough to be one of the professions that actually has the chance to spread the word. Let's get on it!

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Jess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by bluehour View post
    The other piece (or atleast another piece) of the climate change/global warming puzzle are the decreasing oil supplies.

    How will our cities run without cheap and easy oil?
    Time to shift to "Renewable Energy". No more emissions.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally posted by cololi View post
    Is there any natural occurring process that can split atoms?
    Actually there is. It's called spontaneous fission. There is even a naturally occuring process that breeds Plutonium.

    To your point however, you are correct. Even hunter-gatherer societies have some effects on their local environment.

    A year ago this month, Power magazine had a map it in that showed just over 100 new coal-fired power plants either proposed or in development across the U.S. (Sorry, I don't post often enough to leave a link) Most of these are going into rural communities and being sold as economic mega-engines for depressed rural communities. I think planners should play a role at this level, ensuring that local politicians understand the community benefits and costs that these projects bring. I've found the managers of these projects to be really good at "gaming the system." I know that at least two of these facilites are being actively opposed. One is in Taylor County, FL and the other in Early County, GA.

    I live within sight of the smokestacks of the Baldwin Energy Complex in Illinois that is owned by Dynegy. This facility was built about 30 years ago and sold to the Village of Baldwin with the same "economic engine" story that is still used around the country today. While it is true that these facilities cost $1 billion or more to build, the sad reality is that only a tiny fraction trickles down to the local rural community, in the form of the local construction labor pool while the facility is being built. I can attest that the Village of Baldwin's streets are not paved with gold. The retail engine of Baldwin is a mini-mart at an intersection to the plant entrance that doesn't even warrant a 4-way stop sign.

    One role of planners would be to ensure these projects, that are going to dump more CO2 into the atmosphere, have to dot their "i"'s and cross their "t"'s when their proposals are being considered. I'll get off my soapbox now.

    ND

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Guy View post
    With the majority of climatic scientists accepting that global warming is a reality, what role do you see for planners in helping society to adapt to a warming planet?
    In addition to the comments I've already posted in this thread, I would add, because I live in the Great Lakes region, that I become very familiar with the Climate Change and Water Quality in the Great Lakes Basin report. In Chapter 6, it has great insight into possible adaptation strategies.

    And while this Google flood map is a wonderful - yet sobering - tool to visualize the rise of sea levels around the world, I sure would like to see one for the Great Lakes. The effects of climate change will force governments to plan regionally; visualization tools have the power to make that point more clear sooner rather than later.
    Last edited by Wannaplan?; 02 Feb 2007 at 10:07 PM. Reason: I added the link to the Google flood map.

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