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In this Issue: Connecting Social & Ecological Transformation with Personal Transformation | Post-Sandy: Rebuild By Design | Widespread Dietary Behavior Change is Integral to Land-Based Greenhouse Gas Mitigation
In this newsletter, we share three articles on aspects of the relationship between behavior change and climate change: one regarding spirituality, another on post-Sandy resiliency and the last on a needed, global diet shift.
It is noteworthy that some of the design and research projects proposed under HUD’s post-Sandy Rebuild by Design program are centered around our behavior. This points to an under-reported shift in thinking about the human reaction to climate change, namely that five years ago - when CMB began - most of the talk about behavior was over changing laws to change behavior. Today, the understanding of how to help human behavior evolve is far more subtle, sophisticated and powerful. And even the federal government has begun to understand this, a promising sign despite its paralysis on climate change generally.
There is still much to be learned, and the challenge of climate change is now far more visible than it was five years ago, but much progress has been made. CMB has made a contribution to this growing understanding and we are now challenged to push the thinking, research and understanding even further. Part of this involves growing the role of the hubs in Denver, Seattle, Charlotte, New York City and Boston, and our new Manager of Community Partnerships, Melissa Everett, is working with the leadership of the hubs to develop strategic plans for each of them.
Jonathan Rowson, Director of The Social Brain Centre at the RSA, gave a talk in mid-October that helps forge the link between personal transformation, spirituality and social/ecological transformation. He says, “The crux of my pitch was that we have lost sight of the essential link between personal and social transformation, and that we need spiritual perspectives, practices and experiences to bring that link back to our attention… In my opening remarks, I introduced a core distinction to encapsulate a common theme among different forms of spirituality (e.g. religious spirituality, ‘spiritual but not religious,’ secular spirituality) namely the distinction between our ground (the basic facts of our existence) and our place (our social standing) and suggested that many of our existing social and ecological problems stem from getting distracted by a fixation with our place, and losing sight of our ground.” The full video is available to watch or listen to online, and is his recap of the talk is on his blog.
Rebuild by Design is project/competition under the President’s HUD Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Taskforce. At the end of October the ten design teams involved in the competition unveiled over forty potential opportunities for creating a more resilient New York and New Jersey coastline. The design ideas range from highly technical fixes to very integrated social resiliency projects. Those that integrate behavior change and community support are highlighted below, but it is worth checking them all out to see the range of ideas being put forward to forge post-Sandy resiliency.
Social and Scientific Strategies for Communication as Learning About Risk: the Hudson River (Hoboken/Manhattan) design opportunity is positioned around a greater ecological awareness in the Hudson River area that could create a framework for building conditions for the future. With a greater understanding of coastal ecologies, public projects and design challenges can be met with an informed view, and possibly be shared across political and municipal boundaries.
Tidal Society: Eco-economic Relationships within the Urban Ocean: the Jamaica Bay/Rockaway design opportunity is to seek out the relationships of residents to the waterfront, and provide a coastal strategy that fortifies the ecological and social relationships.
Living with the Creek: Options for Monmouth County Watersheds: the proposal is to create a connection between low-lying, low-opportunity towns and high and dry, high and maximum opportunity towns with affordable housing obligations, by playing up existing natural connections and leveraging them to create social connections. Creeks know no political boundaries, but the people who live in the communities surrounding them certainly do. Despite sharing watershed, in a “home rule” state like New Jersey, each town has the right to basically plan and provide services solely in its own self-interest. This has facilitated uneven development patterns.
A recent article in Global Change Biology highlights the systemic interconnection between human behavior and climate change in the agricultural sector. The paper concludes that a widespread shifting of diets is a real means to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions on the ‘demand-side’ of the agricultural equation.
Abstract: Feeding 9–10 billion people by 2050 and preventing dangerous climate change are two of the greatest challenges facing humanity. Both challenges must be met while reducing the impact of land management on ecosystem services that deliver vital goods and services, and support human health and well-being. Few studies to date have considered the interactions between these challenges. In this study we briefly outline the challenges, review the supply- and demand-side climate mitigation potential available in the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector and options for delivering food security. We briefly outline some of the synergies and trade-offs afforded by mitigation practices, before presenting an assessment of the mitigation potential possible in the AFOLU sector under possible future scenarios in which demand-side measures co-deliver to aid food security. We conclude that while supply-side mitigation measures, such as changes in land management, might either enhance or negatively impact food security, demand-side mitigation measures, such as reduced waste or demand for livestock products, should benefit both food security and greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation. Demand-side measures offer a greater potential (1.5–15.6 Gt CO2-eq. yr 1) in meeting both challenges than do supply-side measures (1.5–4.3 Gt CO2-eq. yr1 at carbon prices between 20 and 100 US$ tCO2-eq. yr1), but given the enormity of challenges, all options need to be considered. Supply-side measures should be implemented immediately, focusing on those that allow the production of more agricultural product per unit of input. For demand-side measures, given the difficulties in their implementation and lag in their effectiveness, policy should be introduced quickly, and should aim to co-deliver to other policy agenda, such as improving environmental quality or improving dietary health. These problems facing humanity in the 21st Century are extremely challenging, and policy that addresses multiple objectives is required now more than ever.
Article citation: Smith, P., Haberl, H., Popp, A., Erb, K., Lauk, C., Harper, R., … Rose, S. (2013). How much land-based greenhouse gas mitigation can be achieved without compromising food security and environmental goals? Global Change Biology, 19(8), 2285–2302. doi:10.1111/gcb.12160
We had an excellent Climate, Buildings and Behavior symposium that included a “hands-on” activity and energy usage analysis using the Garrison Institute building as a model. We told stories of times when things did not work out as planned in designing, developing and operating green buildings, and how closely observing actual results is key to successful feedback loops. It was an interactive time together that highlighted the importance of close mindful observation and clear, systemic analysis and feedback. There were great talks; the one by Peter Senge is highlighted below. Check out the CBB web pages for more talks as we post them.
During his keynote address at September’s Climate, Buildings and Behavior Symposium, Peter Senge inspired us to read his favorite book on leadership, Servant Leadership by Robert Greenleaf. The 1977 book followed Greenleaf’s 1970 essay Servant Leader; together they laid out a new mode of organizational leadership based on creativity, empathy, intuition and above all, service. Peter reminded us that climate change work will take centuries and the stamina for this work will only come from being compassionate to ourselves. Here's a salient excerpt in this vein from Greenleaf’s original 1970 essay:
A king once asked Confucius’ advice on what to do about the large number of thieves. Confucius answered, “If you, sir, were not covetous, although you should reward them to do it, they would not steal.” This advice places an enormous burden on those who are favored by the rules, and it establishes how old is the notion that the servant views any problem in the world as in here, inside oneself, not out there. And if a flaw in the world is to be remedied, to the servant the process of change starts in here, in the servant, not out there. This is a difficult concept for that busybody, modern man. So it is with joy. Joy is inward, it is generated inside. It is not found outside and brought in. It is for those who accept the world as it is, part good, part bad, and who identify with the good by adding a little island of serenity to it (p.25).
The Asset Based Community Development Institute (ABCD) at Northwestern University offers a wealth of resources for anyone interested in helping build and strengthen community - a critical factor in creating the resilience needed to withstand and thrive given the challenges of our changing climate. ABCD has gathered community stories from many of its partners and features them on their website as a resource from which other communities can learn. They also provide examples of asset-mapping tools so that community groups and organizations can borrow from the experiences of others doing asset-based community development work.
Creating the conditions for a learning organization in any sector - whether it’s ENGOs, cities or construction, requires building in the mechanisms to learn from mistakes. Prof. Patricia Carillo at Loughboro University has been researching and writing on lessons learned and knowledge management for over a decade. While her focus is the construction industry, the premise and roadmap can be adapted for wider applicability.
The construction industry is highly competitive, with its clients demanding continuous improvement and highly innovative construction projects that are delivered to key performance indicators such as less time, reduced costs, high quality and fewer accidents. Capturing and disseminating lessons learned is one way of fostering project learning which in turn can contribute positively to continuous improvement. This paper proposes a roadmap that can foster project learning by addressing the challenges of capturing useful lessons learned and disseminating these in an effective manner. The roadmap addresses the needs of both corporate and site teams for (1) identifying what is relevant, (2) the processes that should be adopted, (3) the content and format of lessons learned, (4) the types of repositories, (5) the dissemination mechanisms and (6) the feedback loops. Each of these stages is accompanied by checklists to provide examples of typical tools.
In this Issue: Announcements | Highlights from the 2013 Climate, Mind and Behavior Symposium | 2013 Climate, Buildings and Behavior Symposium | Three Human Values that Will Change the Climate Conversation | Good Reads – Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back
A lot has been happening since you last heard from us. In addition to two very successful symposia and a series of excellent hub meetings, Dr. Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez has resigned as Director of the Climate, Mind and Behavior Program. Karen has done an extraordinary job growing the program. Under her leadership more people than ever have been able to join us here for our symposia series. In addition, our research and hubs have also grown. John K. McIlwain will serve as the Interim Director while we look for the program's next Director.
Moving forward, we plan to be in regular communication with you. In order to be as useful as possible and to help us in our planning, please take two minutes to fill out a short survey that will help us develop the future content of the e-news:
The 2013 Climate, Mind and Behavior Symposium focused on Variation and Diversity in Sustainability and Climate Work – here are some highlights from the Symposium with links to the video presentations. Please share widely!
We will be dealing with climate change for a long time, says Harvard Environmental Institute director Dan Schrag- we are locked into a growing degree of change and we need to be thinking about responding to this as a long term social movement. A social movement that Gerald Torres of University of Texas suggests can be built around seemingly uncommon and unexpected allies. These can be hyper-local groups but are just as likely to form across county, state or national lines. Jennifer Hirsch, an applied anthropologist from Chicago, argues that these local-global connections are the way to rally people to act in the face of what is too often assumed to be an abstract or distant issue. The challenge here is to encourage and support pro-environmental behaviors for the long-haul while recognizing that cultures are disparate, intertwined and always shifting in ways appropriate to their own heritages. National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence, Wade Davis’, keynote address helps us challenge hegemonic cultural thinking to dive deep into the beauty of Earth’s human diversity.
You can watch more videos from the 2013 Climate, Mind and Behavior Symposium here.
Join us from Sept 18th-20th for the 2013 Climate, Buildings and Behavior Symposium - Deepening Feedback Loops: Using Real Life Lessons Learned to Improve Outcomes. This year’s Symposium will be highly participatory, allowing professionals and researchers from across the buildings continuum to participate in “hands-on” exercises, share lessons learned and create individual action plans to support sustainable building design, construction, operation and occupancy.
Earlier in 2013, the Climate, Mind and Behavior Initiative’s Pacific Northwest Hub held a workshop on climate change communications strategies. Betsy Taylor of Breakthrough Strategies and Solutions launched the workshop, “Communicating a winning narrative on climate and clean energy,” with a terminology clarification that may be news to most of us: People connect the term “climate disruption” with human factors more so than they do with the term “climate change.” The nuances of our terminology and the pictures we paint are incredibly important at this stage of the climate challenge, so Taylor suggested a three-part flow of talking points, which included:
• Responsibility: As in “We Must.” This speaks to the human need to act for the sake of our children, aka family values.
• Patriotic Pride: As in “We Can.” This connects with our American ingenuity, our “of course we are able” core.
• Accountability: As in “We Will.” This represents the American tendency to distrust and to want to counter the “big” institutions (like oil industry), to “put people back in charge of our democracy.”
You can read the full post here.
This book focuses on resilience and the ability of people, communities, and systems to maintain their core purpose and integrity amid unforeseen shocks and surprises. By encouraging adaptation, agility, and cooperation, this new approach can not only help us weather disruptions, but also bring us to a different way of engaging with the world.
For more information, see the Resilience website.
Climate, Mind and Behavior Leadership Council:
Dina Biscotti, UC Davis
Uwe Brandes, Urban Land Institute
Marilyn Cornelius, Stanford University
Jeff Domanski, Princeton University
Becky Ford, University of Otago, New Zealand
Ruth Greenspan-Bell, Woodrow Wilson Intl Center for Scholars
Lauren Kubiak, Natural Resources Defense Council
Skip Laitner, ACEEE
Nils Moe, Urban Sustainability Directors Network
Phil Payne, Gingko Residential
Roger Platt, USGBC
Jonathan Rose, Garrison Institute Board Member
Kurt Roth, Fraunhofer Institute
Jonathan Rowson, RSA
Rachael Shwom, Rutgers University
Jennifer Tabanico, Action Research
Jason Twill, Lend Lease (Australia)