Thursday, 18 June 2009

What will Climate Change Mean in My Local Area?

Yesterday the US government released a comprehensive report on the predicted localised impacts of climate change within the USA. This afternoon the Guardian is publishing maps of the predicted impacts within the UK. There is quite a bit of merit in bringing it home to people; so for instance in the US report the prediction of flooding and disruption in parts of New York would certainly question the assumption many have that "it will never really affect life around here too much" (vs all the talk of polar bears and poor farmers). In economic terms, the notion of some of the more favoured spots in terms of climate change intensity of impact (the UK is one) might miss for instance the worst effects of drought and famine is rather a simplistic illusion; you can well imagine that quality of life in New York would be disrupted even sooner by the financial meltdown associated with significant global climate, energy and food disruption?

Meanwhile an engaging and educational grassroots approach to discussing local climate and sustainability has been taken recently by Loenora of Elio Studio (and Treehugger) who produced the first of a planned series of Creative Data events, in Norwich where (using data and mapping from the Tyndall Centre and working with social scientists from UEA) local people could interact with a massive map on the floor of the Norfolk Broads - a key question being where are your priorities for this area (between conservation, agriculture and tourism); something people had to indicate by placing stickers - so effectively interacting with other people's choices. For me this goes further than reports about the flood risk in your postcode, because it draws on a community engaged with planning their area; is more in the direction of Transition Towns than (the also much needed) top down cleantech master plans and transnational agreements. If we want to bring it home to people we need creative ways to get them to interact with the very real trade offs ahead.

1 comment:

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