NRDC produced a nice video on repeat flood loss properties, centering on the testimonial of a homeowner in Louisville, KY, that would make a good addition to a lesson on flood loss or the NFIP. It really emphasizes why buyouts are increasingly important in a changing climate. You may also want to use NRDC’s Flood Disclosure Law Map and attendant resources.
As anyone who follows certain presidents on Twitter knows, it’s counterintuitive: climate change is caused by global warming, but it’s terribly cold outside, and the cold spells seem to be getting more frequent. But yes, the changing polar vortex is due to climate change.
First, there is the difference between climate and weather. Weather is what we experience day to day, but climate is the larger, long-term, physical patterns that drive the weather. Any change to the climate can cause local fluctuations in weather, but weather and climate are not the same. I like to explain it to students using the old analogy: weather is whether you bring an umbrella to school; climate is whether you own an umbrella at all. You can also, under current circumstances, use “wearing snow boots” and “owning snow boots”. Continue reading “Teaching the polar vortex”
I forgot to share this recent article by Vann Newkirk of the Atlantic which quotes me: Climate Change Is Already Damaging American Democracy
“Disasters do not discriminate on their impact, but when we see differential consequences, that’s [when] we see the disparities in preexisting conditions,” said Erin Bergren, a visiting professor at North Central College in Illinois and one of the authors of the Sandy paper. “The post-disaster conditions are premised on the pre-disaster conditions.”
One of my favorite ways to enhance my teaching is through the use of data visualization tools, which have become both numerous and richly detailed. I thought I would share a few that I have been using in the past few weeks, in case they might be useful.
1. Sea level rise viewer (NOAA)
The result of a grant from the Institute of Structural Engineers, Laura Howlett of University College London has written a report detailing currently available tools for post-disaster recovery. It’s titled “Measuring Recovery: signposts to good practice” and can be downloaded from the EEFIT Grants website, here.
Significantly, many of the tools work not only for post-disaster recovery but also pre-disaster vulnerability assessment, making the report useful for a range of academics and professionals working on either prevention or recovery.
Summer should be the time for academic writing, but if you’re a teaching oriented person (as I am), it’s very easy to become consumed with teaching-related tasks. In many ways teaching is more seductive to me during the summer because it’s when all the fun planning happens for the new classes I’m teaching in the next year – textbook and article selection, puzzling out the right pedagogical tools to employ to engage students in the material, dig around the internet for new case studies, demonstrations, and games. All of that is so fun and writing doesn’t get any easier just because it’s the summer.
A coalition of environmental research institutions in Ithaca, NY have produced a resource for high school science teachers teaching climate change. You can download it for free from their website, or order a paper copy for $25, and they are also running a crowd-funding campaign to send a copy to every high school science teacher in the US.
There’s also a new MOOC available via Coursera for the general public who are interested in climate change, want to take action, but don’t feel like they know how to do it. I think it costs something to take the course, but there are scholarships available. The course was developed and is taught by professors from the University of Michigan and elsewhere. I particularly like this idea because it focuses not just on education, but on how individuals and groups can take action to address climate change.