The ClimateReady Podcast features interviews and segments on emerging trends in the intersection of climate change and water. International experts in policy, engineering, finance, and other sectors will provide cutting-edge perspectives on climate adaptation advances, challenges, and stories. This podcast is a product of the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA).
Coping with Climate: Climate Grief and Adaptation
Regardless of whether or not you realize it, the climate crisis may be taking a toll on your mental well-being. Combine that with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, economic downturns, and social distancing measures, and it’s easy to see that mental health may be more important now than ever. But for these pervasive problems with no simple solutions, how are we supposed to move past our anxiety or grief?
In this episode of ClimateReady, we are joined by clinical social worker and psychotherapist, Andrew Bryant. Andrew sat down to discuss the work he’s been doing for nearly a decade to help people understand the psychological impacts of climate change and develop strategies to regain their sense of agency. He explains the idea of “radical acceptance” and lays out a four-step approach for empowering ourselves to respond to the complex emotions resulting from the climate crisis, and highlights tools available through his Climate and Mind website (www.climateandmind.org). Many of the lessons he shares can also be applied to dealing with anxiety relating to the current pandemic as well.
Following the interview, we continue the ongoing “Climate of Hope” segment in partnership with the World Youth Parliament for Water. Lynn Porta of the North American Youth Parliament for Water discusses her graduate research in transboundary water management and international treaties, and how the trends she sees around cooperation and adaptability give her room for hope.
Old Solutions, New Problems: Indigenous Adaptation in Peru
Modern hydrology and engineering have solved some tremendous problems, allowing societies to expand and thrive in regions once considered too difficult to inhabit. With more people, more complicated economies, and more variability and extremes from climate impacts, engineering our way out of water challenges seems harder, more expensive, and less reliable. Maybe solutions from the past can become new again?
In this episode of ClimateReady, we examine how traditional, indigenous knowledge and nature-based solutions (NbS) can complement modern approaches. Dr. Boris Ochoa-Tocachi of Imperial College London joins the show to discuss the work he is doing with rural communities in the Andes of Peru, using pre-Columbian technology such as amunas and NbS like bofedales alongside modern water storage and conveyance methods, to help provide water security for local communities as well as Greater Lima and its nearly 10 million inhabitants, all while avoiding the traps of “parachute science.”
Following the interview, we hear a different perspective from Peru in our “Climate of Hope” segment. María Angélica Villasante Villafuerte and Hernan Tello, both members of Peruvian Youth Against Climate Change, discuss their work to increase youth involvement in local and national decision making around climate change to achieve an intergenerational transfer of good practices and lessons learned.
Sparking Change: What We Can Learn from Australia’s Catastrophic Bushfires
With our daily lives inundated with news and anxiety around the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, it’s easy to forget another major story from just a few months ago. The Australian bushfire season of 2019-2020 has garnered global attention. People all around the world were shocked by stories of massive wildlife loss, charred landscapes, destroyed homes and businesses, and displaced communities. But now that the fires have gone out, what have we learned?
To hear how these fires impacted the country’s ecosystems, people, and politics, we turn to two colleagues from southeastern Australia. Dr. Jamie Pittock is a professor at Australian National University (www.anu.edu.au/), while Dr. Emma Carmody — a previous guest on ClimateReady — works at the Environmental Defenders Office (www.edo.org.au/). Jamie and Emma talk us through the wide-ranging impacts of this season’s bushfires. We hear how climate change, ongoing drought, and specific governance and management policies all worked in conjunction to feed the conditions for such devastating fires. We pay particular attention to the short- and long-term impacts on freshwater ecosystems and wildlife before turning to ways in which the tragedy may lead to positive behavioral and policy changes.
For listeners interested in helping the ecosystems and people harmed by Australia’s bushfires, we are including a list of some great organizations recommended by Jamie and Emma. You can make donations and find out more about their work using the links below:
- For strategic and science-based wildlife conservation projects – WWF Australia (http://bit.ly/3bdXjnF)
- For a particular freshwater wildlife conservation – Aussie Ark Turtle Project
- For people, for short term relief – Country Women’s Association (http://bit.ly/3a7epTV)
- For other strategic projects – Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal
Utilities of the Future, Today: How Public Utilities are Pioneering Climate-Smart Infrastructure
We count on public utilities to provide services integral to everyday life. When we turn on the tap or flip a light switch, the assumption is that water will run and rooms will light up. But as the climate changes and cities continue to grow at a breakneck pace, what can utilities do to continue to provide these essential services? Is there a way to avoid overexploiting natural resources while keeping ratepayers happy?
For insight into climate-smart development, we look to the pioneering efforts of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) in the U.S. state of California. On this episode of ClimateReady, we’ll hear from three SFPUC representatives: Mike Brown, Sarah Minick, and Karri Ving. They describe the ways in which SFPUC is utilizing — and financing — nature-based “green” infrastructure to reinforce and supplement their existing systems in order to provide water, wastewater, and power services to millions of customers in a region highly vulnerable to climate change. In the second part of the discussion, we hear how SFPUC is financing these innovative projects - totaling over US$1.4 billion - through the use of the world’s first certified climate bonds dedicated to water infrastructure.
Following the interview, we wrap up with another installment of “Climate of Hope” in partnership with the World Youth Parliament for Water. Karan Gajare, a civil engineer from India pursuing a Masters Degree in Environmental Engineering through an Erasmus Mundus program, shares a success story of a small village taking big steps to adapt to and mitigate climate change in his native India (full story at http://bit.ly/38tc9F7).
Picking Your Climate Battles: When Is Managed Retreat the Best Option?
What happens when climate change renders our homes and communities uninhabitable? Can we maintain our deep place-based connections from afar? As climate change and sea level rise threaten coastal communities, we’re forced to grapple with the fact that not all places will be livable in the not-so-distant future. Following extreme weather events, conversations tend to focus on how to build back. But should we always build back? Who decides? The concept of strategic managed retreat — although controversial — is slowly making its way into the mainstream as a viable, and necessary, adaptation option for many communities threatened by mounting climate impacts.
In this episode of ClimateReady, we hear from Dr. A.R. Siders as she makes the case for strategic and managed retreat as an opportunity to focus on the long-term well-being of coastal and floodplain communities and the lands they call home (http://bit.ly/2RIqRBC). Retreat is not an adaptation solution for every context. But when done in a purposeful, coordinated manner coupled with community involvement, it offers the potential for minimizing risks while avoiding the pitfalls of ad hoc displacement following disasters - a fate that often disproportionately affects poor and marginalized communities with the fewest resources to rebuild or relocate. We discuss the cultural barriers and social justice implications of the approach, and lots more, in this wide-ranging interview.
The show concludes with a “Climate of Hope” story as we hear from our youngest guest ever. Austin Matthews, the son of ClimateReady’s producer, describes what it’s like to be a ten-year-old facing the looming threat of climate change and some of the reasons for his optimism facing the challenge.
Lessons from Chiloé, Chile: Transforming Natural Resource Governance Amid Environmental Change
Environmental change is not occurring in isolation, especially for communities and groups who may live close to and depend very directly on local ecosystems for their livelihoods and economic wellbeing. Climate change in most places is occurring in conjunction with cultural shifts, political reorganization, and globalizing economic impacts. While economic, environmental, and social change tended to happen gradually in the past, many regions are now struggling with managing a bewildering array of forces, many of which they have little control over, forcing difficult decisions whose implications may be hard to manage much less foresee. Governance — especially around management of natural resources — must evolve in order to better address the interests of a growing number of stakeholders in increasingly complex socio-environmental systems.
In this episode of ClimateReady, we bring in environmental anthropologist Dr. Sarah Ebel to discuss an ongoing example of transformative governance in Chile. Drawing on nearly a decade of work with coastal fishing communities, Dr. Ebel describes how legislative changes to Chile’s fisheries management plans and a rare shift towards “polycentric governance” have impacted local fishermen, indigenous groups, the aquaculture industry, and the environment — topics she further covers in the book "Chiloé" (http://bit.ly/chiloe-book). We also discuss the role of “individual agency” in our quest towards resilience and much more.
The show concludes with another “Climate of Hope” story as part of an ongoing collaboration with the World Youth Parliament for Water, where Alex Whitebrook highlights encouraging trends from China’s industrial and agricultural sectors.