Following UN report, Virginia Tech expert calls for 'forward-thinking visioning' to mitigate effects of climate change
November 7, 2016
Following a recent United Nations report calling on the global community to urgently cut further from predicted global greenhouse emissions, a Virginia Tech expert is calling for “forward-thinking visioning, high-level creativity and innovation, adaptive decision-making on all possible levels.”
Anamaria Bukvic, an expert in climate change adaptation and governance, said many natural and man-made systems around the globe have been “experiencing a profound and irreversible transformation due to accelerating climate change impacts.
“With the sea level rise, more frequent and intense storms, increased precipitation, and persistent droughts, societies are facing major challenges in how to respond to these emerging conditions.”
With mounting knowledge and evidence of climate change impacts, high-risk communities like Charleston, South Carolina, Norfolk, Virginia, Miami, Florida, and New York need to embrace new development and policy paradigms to “cope with frequent hazard exposures, protect what can be structurally protected, accommodate to new conditions when they are unavoidable, and relocate when other options are not feasible,” Bukvic said.
The United Nations Environment Programme’s annual Emissions Gap report, released Nov. 3, warned “the world must urgently and dramatically increase its ambition to cut roughly a further quarter off predicted 2030 global greenhouse emissions and have any chance of minimizing dangerous climate change.”
The report said 2030 emissions are expected to reach 54 to 56 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent — above the level of 42 needed to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius this century. Scientific consensus is that limiting global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius this century will reduce — though not eliminate — the impact of severe climate change.
“This issue is further exacerbated by a number of other societal challenges, such as political instability, failed economies, environmental degradation, mass migrations, and resource stress. Coastal communities are particularly vulnerable to the unprecedented and irreversible damage as the aggregates of population, wealth, and infrastructure vital to the national economy and geopolitical stability.”
“New proactive efforts call for forward-thinking visioning, high-level creativity and innovation, adaptive decision-making on all possible levels, as well as free-flow of information, experiences, and support among all affected stakeholders.”
Bukvic is a research assistant professor in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment. Her research focuses on climate change adaptation and efforts to align existing policy and planning frameworks with different regional and locale-specific conditions to optimize adaptation outcomes.
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