Links on climate change: First half of 2015

In this post I curate a few links related to climate change research, that in some way relate to the focus of our research project on diverse knowledges on the relations between changing climate and water.

For a history of climate change science (until 2009), look at the OSS Foundation’s site.

On Wednesday the blog GlacierHub, about research and information on glaciers around the world, will be one year old – congrats, and thanks for sharing!

Interactions of drought and climate adaptation for urban water is the website of a project about drought management strategies to support urban water systems.

Read John Dryzek, Richard Norgaard and David Schlosberg’s book Climate-challenged society. The publisher writes about the book: “This book is an original, accessible, and thought-provoking introduction to the severe and broad-ranging challenges that climate change presents and how societies can respond. It synthesises and deploys cutting-edge scholarship on the range of social, economic, political, and philosophical issues surrounding climate change. The treatment is introductory, but the book is written ‘with attitude’, for nobody has yet charted in coherent, integrative, and effective fashion a way to move societies beyond their current paralysis as they face the challenges of climate change. The coverage begins with an examination of science, public opinion, and policy making, with special attention to organised climate change denial. The book then moves to economic analysis and its limits; different kinds of policies; climate justice; governance at all levels from the local to the global; and the challenge of an emerging ‘Anthropocene’ in which the mostly unintended consequences of human action drive the earth system into a more chaotic and unstable era. The conclusion considers the prospects for fundamental transition in ideas, movements, economics, and governance.”

There’s also Mike Hulme’s 2014 book, Exploring climate change through science and in society. It is an anthology of his essays, interviews and speeches from the late 1980s. His other books on climate change are Can science fix climate change: A case against climate engineering, and Why we disagree about climate change: Understanding controversy, inaction and opportunity

Another book is by Candis Callison, How climate change comes to matter: The communal life of facts. The publisher describes the book as: “During the past decade, skepticism about climate change has frustrated those seeking to engage broad publics and motivate them to take action on the issue. In this innovative ethnography, Candis Callison examines the initiatives of social and professional groups as they encourage diverse American publics to care about climate change. She explores the efforts of science journalists, scientists who have become expert voices for and about climate change, American evangelicals, Indigenous leaders, and advocates for corporate social responsibility. The disparate efforts of these groups illuminate the challenge of maintaining fidelity to scientific facts while transforming them into ethical and moral calls to action. Callison investigates the different vernaculars through which we understand and articulate our worlds, as well as the nuanced and pluralistic understandings of climate change evident in different forms of advocacy. As she demonstrates, climate change offers an opportunity to look deeply at how issues and problems that begin in a scientific context come to matter to wide publics, and to rethink emerging interactions among different kinds of knowledge and experience, evolving media landscapes, and claims to authority and expertise.”

For reviews of Naomi Klein’s book on climate change, This changes everything, read John Gray, or read Elizabeth Kolbert’s review, and Naomi’s response in The New York Review of Books.



The Climate and Traditional Knowledges Workgroup of the USA’s Third National Climate Assessment in 2014 released Guidelines for Considering Traditional Knowledges in Climate Change Initiatives.

Have a look at the presentation of the key findings related to Africa of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report: What’s in it for Africa?

One of the research projects of the Centre for Science & Technology is about Knowledge, power and the coproduction of climate information for adaptation to climate change in Tanzania. The website describes the projects as follows: “Lisa Dilling, Meaghan Daly, Mara Goldman and Eric Lovell are conducting a project that aims to improve understanding of processes to effectively link climate information and adaptation at national and local scales in Tanzania. The approach is to explicitly recognise and examine the ways in which the varying epistemological traditions and relations of power among vulnerable communities, disaster management professionals, and climate experts influence the perceived value of climate information for improved early warning and climate adaptation. The primary research question is ‘what processes or institutions can support improved application of technical climate information to facilitate successful adaptation to climate related disasters?’ This research draws upon theoretical contributions from the fields of science policy, disaster research, science and technology studies, and political ecology to support a mixed-methods research approach to explore practices and modes of engagement that may best facilitate the production of usable science that can be successfully integrated within adaptation decision-making and policy development processes.”

Specific to South Africa, Gina Ziervogel and colleagues from mainly UCT has an article in WIREs Climate Change on Climate change impacts and adaptation in South Africa. The abstract of their paper states: “In this paper we review current approaches and recent advances in research on climate impacts and adaptation in South Africa. South Africa has a well-developed earth system science research program that underpins the climate change scenarios developed for the southern African region. Established research on the biophysical impacts of climate change on key sectors (water, agriculture, and biodiversity) integrates the climate change scenarios but further research is needed in a number of areas, such as the climate impacts on cities and the built environment. National government has developed a National Climate Change Response White Paper, but this has yet to translate into policy that mainstreams adaptation in everyday practice and longer-term planning in all spheres and levels of government. A national process to scope long-term adaptation scenarios is underway, focusing on cross-sectoral linkages in adaptation responses at a national level. Adaptation responses are emerging in certain sectors. Some notable city-scale and project-based adaptation responses have been implemented, but institutional challenges persist. In addition, a number of knowledge gaps remain in relation to the biophysical and socio-economic impacts of climate change. A particular need is to develop South Africa’s capacity to undertake integrated assessments of climate change that can support climate-resilient development planning.”

In the South African Journal of Science, there is an article on Observed and modelled trends in rainfall and temperature for South Africa: 1960–2010.

Have a look at the 2010 book by PG Alcock, called Rainbows in the mist: indigenous weather knowledge, beliefs and folklore in South Africa.

Interesting links: June 2015

Regarding climate change, June 2015 is about Pope Francis’ encyclical – see articles in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and Huffington Post.

Next week, 7-10 July, there will be an international scientific conference in Paris, called Our common future under climate change. Follow the conference twitter account @ClimatParis2015 and look at the hashtag #CFCC15.

Watch this short video on Meltwater Pulse 2B, by Peter Sinclair on recent research about Antarctic glacial melting.

Here’s another video, this time a talk by Charles Vörösmarty on Water in the 21st century: Sources of pessimism, sources of optimism (link seen on Jeremy Schmidt’s The Anthropo.Scene).

And then there is a video of a conversation between Ulrich Beck and Bruno Latour on cosmopolitics and re-thinking the nation-state. Beck starts by explaining his idea of metamorphosis, which is the topic of his new book The metamorphosis of the world: How climate change is transforming our concept of the world, to be released in January 2016.

See the call for papers for an international conference on political ecology, called Undisciplined Environments, on 20-23 March 2016. The deadline for submissions is 30 September 2015.

Prof Anna Tsing has a new book out in September, called The mushroom at the end of the world: On the possibility of life in capitalist ruins. The write-up on the publisher’s website states: “Matsutake is the most valuable mushroom in the world—and a weed that grows in human-disturbed forests across the northern hemisphere. Through its ability to nurture trees, matsutake helps forests to grow in daunting places. It is also an edible delicacy in Japan, where it sometimes commands astronomical prices. In all its contradictions, matsutake offers insights into areas far beyond just mushrooms and addresses a crucial question: what manages to live in the ruins we have made? A tale of diversity within our damaged landscapes, The Mushroom at the End of the World follows one of the strangest commodity chains of our times to explore the unexpected corners of capitalism. Here, we witness the varied and peculiar worlds of matsutake commerce: the worlds of Japanese gourmets, capitalist traders, Hmong jungle fighters, industrial forests, Yi Chinese goat herders, Finnish nature guides, and more. These companions also lead us into fungal ecologies and forest histories to better understand the promise of cohabitation in a time of massive human destruction. By investigating one of the world’s most sought-after fungi, The Mushroom at the End of the World presents an original examination into the relation between capitalist destruction and collaborative survival within multispecies landscapes, the prerequisite for continuing life on earth.”

The South African Department of Home Affairs has released a study on the local knowledge associated with the rooibos and honeybush species in South Africa. “The study has revealed that there is no evidence to dispute the claim by the San and the Khoi people of South Africa that they are the rightful holders of traditional knowledge associated with rooibos and honeybush. In light of the finding, the department therefore urges any individual or organisation involved in bioprospecting or biotrade using rooibos and honeybush species to engage with the Khoi and San communities or people to negotiate a benefit sharing agreement in terms of NEMBA and the BABS Regulations.”

Interesting links: August – October 2013

I had high hopes of regular blogging when we started the journey of the Thuthuka-project. But the second part of the year got much more busy than I initially anticipated, and thus my postings on the blog dropped right off.  But now the teaching term has come to an end, students are preparing for exams, and I have moments for deeper breathing and looking up to the expansive blue sky for thinking inspiration. I’ll start my return to the blog in an easy way: sharing some of the resources and links I have saved over the last few months.

Climate-related links

The biggest news in this time period was the release of the Working Group 1 contribution, to the IPCC’s Fifth assessment report, on the physical science basis of climate change. Watch a short video, 5 things we learned about climate change, that highlights key findings.

For me another informative event is a Coursera course focused on the conversations on climate change; it’s called Climate literacy: Navigating climate change conversations, and is presented by Dr Sarah Burch and Dr Sara Harris. I enrolled for this course in September, but did not get far with it; hopefully I’ll pick-up speed in the next few weeks.

Climate Change Word CloudSource:

Another site I want to explore for its rich resources is the website ‘Dissertations initiative for the advancement of climate change research’; for short DISCCRS. DISCCRS is about fostering interdisciplinary work on climate change between new researchers. Its website offers a database of PhD dissertations, and various resources on funding, news and projects re climate change,

Margot Hill has got a book out, called Climate change and water governance: Adaptive capacity in Chile and Switzerland. The synopsis of the book states that the book “presents the results of several years’ research focusing on adaptive capacity and water governance in two widely-separated regions of the globe, namely the Swiss Alps and the Chilean Andes. The two regions share many similarities in hydrology and water resources: shifting precipitation patterns, highly variable winter snow pack and receding glaciers, resulting in changing seasonality and amounts of runoff that will subtly modify water availability and water use. As climate change is likely to amplify trends in surface run-off, the author investigates whether adaptive capacity in these two regions is sufficiently robust to respond to a situation which has never been experienced to date. … In order to understand and assess the interplay of complex and interlinked environmental and socio-economic issues, the author looks beyond the technology, modelling, engineering and infrastructure associated with water resources management and climate change adaptation, to assess the decision-making environment within which water and adaptation policy and practices are devised and executed. Using these insights, the author introduces, tests and enhances an indicator framework for the assessment of adaptive capacity. The aim is to help readers better understand the adaptive processes that allow the regimes governing water resources to respond to new shocks and changes in the hydrological system, in order to build more resilient water governance systems that can bend, but not break, in the face of new and unexpected challenges.” (Springer website).

Another book I hope to read soon is the edited collection ‘Water and climate change in Africa: Challenges and community initiatives in Durban, Maputo and Nairobi’. This book is edited Prof Patricia E Perkins, the principal investigator of a three year research project of the Climate Change Adaptation in Africa (CCAA) program, a joint initiative of Canada’s International Development Research Centre and the UK’s DFID. The book provides an overview of the ways in climate change is affecting the cities of Durban, Maputo and Nairobi. It takes an equity and climate justice approach, and discusses a range of initiatives at the grassroots level.

Water & climate change book

An article by Gary Gutting in the opinion pages of the New York Times calls on scientists to work with colleagues from the Humanities in an interdisciplinary approach to understand and address the issues related to climate change.

In South Africa Louis Scott of the University of the Free State is a leading scholar in the field of Palaeoecology. He recently retired, and to celebrate his career and contributions to palaeoscience a conference is being organised from 7 to 11 July 2014 at the University of the Free State. A call for papers to this conference – From past to present: Changing climates, ecosystems and environments of arid southern Africa – is out.

Methodology-related links

The Campbell Collaboration has an useful webpage indicating various open access evidence libraries on systematic reviews and impact evaluation studies.

The Collaboration for Environmental Evidence has a very useful page on their website about systematic maps.

Interesting links: July 2013

In the last few weeks of July I came across the following links that are relevant to our research project. (I got bogged down with admin, and didn’t get to publish this posting earlier.)

On RCTs in development, systematic reviews, evidence, and policy:

– In two blog postings in July, Kirsty discusses the anti-RCT sentiment in the development field by highlighting a few myths about RCTs, and she gives a number of tips for presenting synthesised evidence.

– On the IDS blog Stephan Whitfield reported back on the recent Science in Public conference.  Read about his highlights.

– My collaborator Ruth made us aware of a series of introductory training videos on systematic reviews that were recorded during the 2011 and 2013 Campbell Colloquiums. I haven’t watches them all yet, but they seem very useful.

On changing climate and climate change debates:

– Dennis Bray discusses the use of ‘projection’ and ‘prediction’ by climate scientists; he compares 2009 and 2013 surveys.

– Martin Mahony highlights the argument of his paper in Geoforum, ‘Boundary spaces: Science, politics and the epistemic geographies of climate change in Copenhagen 2009‘.

– The website of the ESRC-funded climate change leadership fellowship holds various useful resources related to the project called Transitions in practice: Climate change and everyday life.

– The Past Global Changes project published their work on reconstructing Africa’s climate history.

– In the blog posting ‘The role of climate on African stone age technology‘, Kambiz Kamrani discusses an article published in Nature Communications in  May that indicates the authors’ observations that very abrupt changes in rainfall in South Africa between 40 000 and 80 000 years ago, correlated with the development of new technologies. Wetter periods saw, for example, the making of tools from stone and bone, whilst drier climate correlated with the end of certain stone tool industries.

Water footprints at Nokeng

Interesting links related to changing climate – April 2013

I came across various interesting videos, workshops/conferences, and articles on changing climate and/or water in the last two to three weeks.



Interesting links 7 April 2013

During the last week I came across some interesting links and discussions related to changing climate and/or evidence.

(1) On the Climate Central Blogs there is a posting of a 13-seconds animation that shows changes in surface temperatures around the world since the 1950s. Have a look at Watch 62 years of global warming in 13 seconds

(2) Wiley-Geography tweeted a collection of research on the theme Climate change, variability, adaptation and justice.

(3) The Africa Adaptation Knowledge Network has a discussion going on “How can better use be made of existing knowledge to support adaptation efforts? How can learning from success and failure become more systematic? Why not join them?

(4) On the LSE blog Michael Bassey wrote that we should rather argue for evidence-informed policy than evidence-based policy.

(5) Jim Sumberg wrote on the blog of theSTEPS Centre how the idea of ‘evidence-based policy’ is often understood to mean looking at evidence about ‘what works, where and for whom’. He highlights a second area of evidence, namely evidence about ‘what is, what has been and what is likely to be’. Read his blog “Celestial (policy) navigation“.