Milestone susceptibility: Living Openly with Our Climate
Milestone susceptibility: Living Openly with Our Climate
This is my 300 th blog, which is a milestone of some sort. By say, the standards of Jeff Masters, that's not very many. My first blog was at the release of the 2007 IPCC report. I managed to write more than one per week. I’m not sure I evolved to what Wunderground wanted, but as Jeff once told me I definitely developed a style of my own. There was a while, there, that what Jeff and I wrote were “articles” instead of blogs.
This blog became an important part of my life and career. I started because my students told me that they did not listen to news on radio and television. Being old, when I arrived at Michigan in 2005, I started to read the Detroit Free Press. Most of my students were not aware of the Free Press. And as strange as it may seem, they did not listen to NPR. I was enticed by Wunderground, because there was audience there. It was not long before I realized that more people read each of my blogs than read all of my journal papers combined. (Whatever became of MarxistforAgenda21?)
People ask me these days why I keep blogging. Perhaps that’s a hint. They imagine that I spend my days in repeated bickering that includes personal insults. That’s not the case at all. My reasons include hearing from staffers in D.C. or a state capital that they look to my blogs for some considered analysis or synthesis on some current climate-change subject. The occasional note that someone in a pay grade far above mine, will be in some meeting, and needs to know how to respond to the whole silly warming pause, warming hiatus thing.
I have also “met” and written articles through the blog. The article Changing the Media Discussion on Climate and Extreme Weather, with Christine Shearer came from this blog. Another article that rose from the blog Revisiting Projected Shifts in the Climate Envelopes of North American Trees Using Updated General Circulation Models is one of my most cited recent papers. In fact, the papers that have their roots in this blog and my class have reliably earned more citations than those from my more traditional lines of research. On most of these papers I have intentionally offered myself up as climate guy in different fields. My goal is to understand those interfaces better, hoping to increase the usability of climate projections.
I think in the past 7 years there have been real changes in the how the U.S. is thinking about climate change. Where I see the most advancement is on the local level. Part of my work is with the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessment Center. Every year we have a grants competition, which provides small grants to help organizations who are climate-interested start to weave climate change into their plans. We get more than 10 times the grants than we possibly support. It is only a matter of time that money starts to align with these climate interests and needs. We work with clients in places where the public political position might be to obstruct climate-change policy and regulations. I see our students getting jobs that work on climate-change problem solving (Oswald, Praus, Graor, Ocko, Reed )
As I have written many times I see the knowledge we have from climate projections as providing us unique opportunity. We have more knowledge about our future than we have ever had before. Climate change is going to be enormously disruptive over the next decades. With the realization that some of the glaciers in West Antarctica are lost, we will see sea level rise on the order of a meter in the coming decades. Our enterprise and economies have, in a fundamental sense, always included wrestling with weather and climate to extract livelihoods. How we do this will change; it will become more explicit. Our population and behavior have always been tempered by weather and climate; this relation will also change. We have no choice – if we are to thrive, then our relationship with the climate will have to come out of the closet. It will be exposed, and we will learn to pay attention.
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I'm a professor at U Michigan and lead a course on climate change problem solving. These articles often come from and contribute to the course.
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