The US Global Change Research Prorgram (globalchange.gov) is currently advertising for two administrative-level positions at the National Coordination Office in Washington, DC.
The first position is for an Administrative Assistant that would serve as the front face of the office and provide general reception and administrative duties to the National Coordination Office Staff. In addition, this position is also responsible for serving as the manager of the Resource Library (formerly known as the Global Change Research Information Office or GCRIO). Apply here by March 20.
The second position is for a student intern to facilitate and implement administrative and technical tasks for the National Climate Assessment within the USGCRP National Coordination Office. Students must be enrolled in college or university and completed or enrolled in coursework in relevant disciplines, such as environmental or earth sciences, political science, social science, or communications. Apply here by March 20.
Phil Duffy, Senior Policy Analyst and Becky Fried, Policy Analyst, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President
Polling results released last week by the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College (Pennsylvania) show that, compared to previous surveys, the largest majority of Americans in years now believe global warming is occurring. Sixty two percent of respondents to the December 2011 National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change (NSAPOCC) agreed there is â€œsolid evidenceâ€ that Earth has been getting warmer over the past four decadesâ€”a marked increase from 55 percent just half a year earlier.
Notably, however, almost half of the 62 percent said their views were shaped by personal observations of temperature and weather phenomena. In narrative explanations of why they accept the reality of global warming, survey respondents indicated â€œwinters just arenâ€™t as cold as they were in the past,â€ â€œtemperatures last summer that were awful,â€ and â€œdroughts this past summer,â€ among other observations.
Those results suggest that many Americans are basing their climate change attitudes on near-term personal experiences and observations rather than the stream of scientific evidence demonstrating climate change and warmer-than-normal global temperatures due to greenhouse gas emissions. While science tells us that there are indeed links between local weather and global climate, particular weather events and short-term variations are not reliable indicators of long-term climate trends, which must be measured across decades or longer. So while more and more Americans apparently agree with the scientific consensus on climate change, many seem to be doing so for the wrong reasons.
The risk in this, of course, is that in years when short-term weather cycles are coolerâ€”as can be expected occasionally in the course of the current longer-term warming trendâ€”these people will be more likely to change their minds. Indeed, the poll found that some Americans are already making this error. In the study, among those who said they are unconvinced that global warming is happening, the most commonly cited rationales were personal observations such as â€œwinters were just as cold as when I was a kid,â€ or â€œour weather seems just as cold as in the past."
â€œPeople naturally form viewpoints and make decisions based on personal experience. Itâ€™s one reason why understanding the local-scale impacts of climate change and how they differ from weather is so critical.â€ said Tom Armstrong, Director of the U.S. Global Change Research Program. â€œCommunicating this information broadly is one of the most important ways we can ensure that people and communities are able to make informed, science-based decisions.â€
The NSAPOCC is planning a follow-up report to explore the connections between American climate change attitudes and policies.
As a first step toward future efforts to enhance traceability of NCA data and sources, the site incorporates access to a sample of the datasets used as a basis for the 2009 report. The site provides an enhanced web-based interface for the NCAâ€™s wide range of stakeholdersâ€”from private citizens, to business leaders, to local decision makers, and moreâ€”to search for findings, topics, and sources for the 2009 report that are most relevant to their needs.
The launch comes as USGCRP is in the thick of preparing its next NCA report, due for release in 2013. Work is already underway to ensure that insights gained from enhancing access to the 2009 report are incorporated into efforts for 2013.
â€œWe developed the site as a way of trying out some methods to improve transparency and searchability,â€ said Dr. Anne Waple, Program Manager for NOAAâ€™s Assessment Services and Chair of the NCA Technical Support Unit. â€œWe learned a lot of lessons in the process that will inform our efforts for the 2013 report and the sustained assessment effort.â€
A quick rollover of the interactive map on the front page of the site gives a summary of regional climate impacts, even before the first click. Users interested in delving deeper can explore climate information by region or sector, click through to some sample datasets, view relevant images and information about their sources, and even read supporting documents for the assessment.
â€œFor us, this is a small but important step forward,â€ said Emily Cloyd, Public Participation and Engagement Coordinator for the National Climate Assessment. â€œAnalyzing what works and what doesnâ€™t will be critical to our future efforts.â€
ACCFP fellows convened Tuesday at USGCRP headquarters in Washington, DC to engage in a dialogue with representatives from several Federal agencies and other organizations.
On Tuesday, Climate Change Fellows from more than 10 African nations convened at USGCRPâ€™s National Coordination Office in Washington, DC to discuss their experiences applying scientific knowledge to climate change adaptation efforts in Africa. The fellows represented the inaugural class of the African Climate Change Fellowship Program (ACCFP). The ACCFP is a partnership between the global change SysTem for Analysis, Research and Training (START), the Institute of Resource Assessment at the University of Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania) and the Climate Change Adaptation in Africa (CCAA) program.
The International START Secretariat, located in Washington, DC, is hosted and co-funded by the United States to advance knowledge and build capacity to address global environmental change in developing regions of the world. In 2008, START and its partners launched the ACCFP fellowship program to build capacity for climate change adaptation in Africa by providing seed funding to African scientists for research projects and teaching opportunities across the continent. ACCFPâ€™s inaugural class of 45 fellows represented 18 African Nations and focused on the common theme of knowledge for decision making.
Tuesdayâ€™s meeting provided a forum for ACCFP alumni to engage in open dialogue with Federal representatives from USGCRP, USAID, NSF, NASA, USDA, the Department of State, the Department of Energy and others seeking to enable climate adaptation capacity building, both in Africa and around the world.
ACCFP alumna Mzime Ndebele-Murisa described her doctoral research at the University of the Western Cape.
The ACCFP program is unique in its emphasis on matching fellows with host institutions from other African nations. Fellows travel to and collaborate with host institutions to implement projects across a range of topicsâ€”from advancing understanding of climate risks and vulnerabilities, to identifying adaptation strategies, to integrating adaptation strategies with local policy, and more. The fellow-to-host matching process creates networks of climate adaptation experts and practitioners across the African continent that can be harnessed for knowledge sharing and partnerships that might not otherwise be possible.
In addition to presenting research accomplishments achieved during their fellowships, ACCFP Alumni used Tuesdayâ€™s meeting as an opportunity to share first-hand insights about needs, challenges, and opportunities to enhance the use of climate change adaption research in ways that are useful to long-term strategy development, policymaking, and day-to-day decisions.
Fellows discussed the wide array of demonstrated applications of their workâ€”from informing fisheries management planning in Zimbabwe, to bringing meteorological forecasting information to secondary schools in Tanzania, to providing climate change training to NGOâ€™s in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and much more.
There was unanimous agreement among the fellows in the room that the connections established through the ACCFP alumni network have proven extremely valuable, even after graduation from the Program. For example, three ACCFP fellows from Nigeria teamed up after completion of their individual projects to work on water resource mapping to inform climate adaption plans in Nigerian communities.
There was also unanimous agreement on needs for future capacity building. When a fellow from Ghana raised the need to more effectively communicate climate change information to farmers, fisherman, communities, and others who use and depend on it, there were many affirming nods around the room. The fellows agreed that translation of scientific knowledge into information that it accessible, useable, and relevant is absolutely critical to the proliferation of effective climate adaptation strategies in Africa.
A total of 24 adaptation policy and science fellows make up the ACCFPâ€™s most recent class of participants (2011); these individuals are currently in residence at their host institutions and work is underway. Application screening is also underway for the third ACCFO cohort, to be comprised of 16 additional science and policy fellows and 10 teaching fellows to complete projects in 2012.
Philip Duffy, Senior Policy Analyst
Becky Fried, Policy Analyst,
Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week announced the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, a voluntary partnership that includes the United States, Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden, and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to reduce short-lived atmospheric pollutants such as methane, hydrofluorocarbons, and black carbon, or soot. These fast-acting climate pollutants are estimated to be responsible for about a third of global warming over the past 50 years, and are proven to have significant impacts on public health and world food production.
On Thursday, Clinton and other leaders emphasized that it remains important to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to address long-term climate-change challenges. But the reduction of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) can bring important near-term benefits for climate, human health, welfare, and the environment, she said.
The six-nation coalition hopes to grow to include other nations committed to reducing emissions of SLCPs. This approach differs from the international process for controlling CO2 emissions, which focuses on reaching consensus agreements among a much larger group of nations.
Emissions of methane, which is more than 20 times as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2 by weight in the short term, can be reduced by measures such as fixing leaky gas pipes and aerating rice paddy fields. Sootâ€”which warms the atmosphere and accelerates ice melting in the Arctic and elsewhere, and combines with other pollutants to cause heart disease, lung disease, and cancer that contributes to 2 million premature deaths per yearâ€”can be minimized with diesel-particle filters in vehicles, cleaner cookstove models, and other measures. Ozone created by SLCPs also contributes to lung damage and reduces crop yields.
A recent scientific report by UNEP showed that a concerted effort to reduce SLCPs could significantly delay global warming while helping to avoid the loss of millions of tons of crops and preventing millions of premature deaths per year by 2030.
This new Coalition will provide funding to developing countries to implement solutions and help raise supplementary funds from the public and private sectors for additional mitigation projects. To start, the Coalition is being funded with $15 million over two yearsâ€”with $12 million coming from the United States and $3 million from Canada. It will complement related programs and partnerships such as the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, in which several U.S. Government agencies, private companies, and national governments are collaborative partners.