Friday, February 8, 2008

Virtual Civic Centers for Local Resilience and Climate Adaptation

Why aren't we doing more to get ready for climate impacts? We know they're coming. They may already be here. We've seen from Katrina how lack of adequate preparation can leave a place vulnerable to even the most obvious risks. We know these impacts won't just come through once and be over. Sure, we need to slash carbon emissions, but we can do that and learn to adapt at the same time. In fact, they should go together.

Having been following the news and the science so closely over the past year in my research for Climate Frog I've learned a few things that are calling me to action:

  • The timeframe for many key forecasts has been compressing; the pace of change seems to be accelerating
  • Many locations have had - and are still having - extreme weather that may as well be climate change impacts even if they're not referred to as such
  • We're not going to reverse the climate change process and impacts for a long, long time
  • We're going to go through at least a decades-long period of "unstable" and extreme weather
  • Adaptation is defined by the location where climate impacts take place
  • Local is where the rubber meets the road in terms of government involvement with its constituents
  • Local governments have yet to begin addressing adaptation planning for their local conditions and populations
  • The Web is being underused as a local information and collaboration medium on climate
I'm proposing that we begin building a global network of local civic center sites that operate through enlightened (or at least willing) local government agencies to:
  1. inform their citizens about the latest science, news and commentary on climate change
  2. involve them in risk assessment and civic deliberation on planning issues
  3. support collaborative activities among citizens, businesses, groups and government
At the same time, these local sites will be networked to share knowledge and experience about risks and situations they have in common. All sites will contribute knowledge to a global knowledge base that anyone can draw from.

Yes, this is actually a serious business proposition. I'm taking the unorthodox path of announcing it here for anyone who might be interested in helping to get it off the ground. I'm calling it AdaptLocal, and here's a short version of the proposition.

Please circulate. Contact info is on the site or just comment here. Ciao.

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