Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Our Climate is Changing - Are you ready to get involved supporting your State?

U.S. State local governments are rising to the challenge of preparing for the inevitable climate changes they anticipate having to contend with forward going.

By Katherine Pratt

It appears that for some time now, every three years all our States submit their State Plans to the Government on the state of their energy, agriculture, population, and probably for most areas for which the Government has over-sight.

The Government in turn requests information from each of their departments and every three years, they publish this in a comprehensive format addressing all of the important areas such as:
Water Resources EnergyEnergy and Land Use
Urban InfrastructureIndigenous Peoples
Biochemical CyclesRural Communities
All the US Regions, Oceans and Marine resources, and our Coasts

In looking over all the new climate change initiatives recently released by all our States and our Government, there appear to be a few important omissions.

There does not appear to be any published mention of using metrics usually applied in Support Engineering, such as reliability, maintainability, or sustainability, (RMS) and even logistics is not mentioned. I suspect this omission exists because much of what the Government is currently requesting from the States and subsequently is publishing, is meant simply to inform, and is not designed to specifically formulate solutions.

Even though they are including climate change impacts into their US National Climate Assessment, supported by the US Global Change Research Program, they have not yet made the practical decision to begin to use the metrics needed to engineer the solutions to these problems, which affect all of us.

They also specifically mention they have data gaps for the Pacific Islands, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. Territories in their most recent publication: "NCA3 Climate Change Impacts in the United States"

These are just some of the indicators measured globally over many decades that show that the Earth’s climate is warming. White arrows indicate increasing trends, and black arrows indicate decreasing trends. All the indicators expected to increase in a warming world are, in fact, increasing, and all those expected to decrease in a warming world are decreasing. (Figure source: NOAA NCDC based on data updated from Kennedy et al. 20101).

You probably noticed in your own State that they are beginning to address these environmental issues. If they have not begun to use the metrics of reliability, maintainability or sustainability (RMS) in addressing their solutions, then they have not taken into account the value of applying logistics-based solutions for the larger tasks they will undoubtedly need this type of structured planning forward going.

Most, if not all States have now begun to address Climate Change, its’ current status and how it will affect them in forward going. The Maryland Commission on Climate Change is charged with advising the Governor and General Assembly on ways to mitigate the causes of, prepare for, and adapt to the consequences of climate change and maintaining and strengthening the state’s existing Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan (GHG Plan).

A Steering Committee and four working groups currently support the Commission. The Adaptation and Response Working Group (ARWG) is charged with developing a Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Maryland’s Climate Change vulnerability. The Strategy includes both short and long-term measures that State and local governments may undertake in planning for and adapting to diverse impacts of climate change.

A priority for the ARWG in 2017 will be to seek opportunities to broaden stakeholder representation to include business, organized labor and industry representatives, along with local and federal partners with specific expertise in or understanding of the areas of the ARWG’S work.

In addition to the work that the ARWG members are already doing in response to Phase I and Phase II strategies, the Adaptation and Response Working Group (AWRG) has identified the following cross-cutting priorities to focus on in 2017 and 2018:

  1. Evaluating New Sea Level Rise Science ~ Scientific understanding of the causes and rates of sea-level rise is rapidly evolving. 
  2. Broadening the Adaptation Scope ~ As the focus of the ARWG, its members’ work and the challenges of different climate impacts evolve, the working group is recommending that additional emphasis be placed on meeting adaptation needs in non-coastal areas and on non-flooding issues such as extreme heat events, which are forecast to become more common. Through its Coast Smart Construction Program, Maryland is already a leader in ensuring that state investments will be resilient to the impacts of sea-level rise and coastal flooding. 
  3. Healthy Soils Initiative ~ Soils are already huge stores of carbon, and improved management of this resource could expand their capacity for carbon storage. ARWG will promote innovations in soil sequestration technologies, as well as, seek ways to improve how their implementation is integrated into climate change adaptation. 
  4.  Local Comprehensive Plan for Adaptation Research ~ Local governments and communities will play a key role in successful adaptation. Many adaptation interventions necessary to increasing resilience are often squarely in the purview of local governments, including zoning codes, floodplain management, and building codes. 
  5. Resilience Financing Stress Test ~ Communities are faced with the dual challenge of effectively managing and protecting important natural resources while at the same time preparing their communities to address the impacts and risks of climate change. In addition to identifying the financing structures at the community level through the stress test, the ARWG will investigate incentive programs and opportunities within the insurance industry as well as the role that state and federal governments can play to ease the finance burdens of adaptation. 
  6. Metrics for Tracking Progress ~ Adaptation efforts are only useful if they work, but states and other actors often lack defined methods for evaluating responses and monitoring success. Without easily measurable benefits (at least in the short-term) the state faces difficulty in building understanding for adaptation policies and investments. (This is an excellent area in which to use RMS metrics.)
  7. Georgetown Climate Center Recommendations ~ The purpose of Georgetown Climate Center's 2016 report was to help the ARWG document the important work it is already doing to prepare for the impacts of climate change and to provide recommendations and examples of other practices being implemented in other states as suggestions for additional steps that the state could take. SCHEDULE OF MEETINGS Appendix C of this document provides a summary of ARWG meetings scheduled for 2017, as well as tentative topics and MCCC work items. (See link in # 8 below)
  8. ECO Meetings ~The ECO meetings are held monthly at the Maryland Department of the Environment. These meetings are open to the public and a portion of each meeting is set aside for public comment.  The time, date and location for all Maryland Commission on Climate Change, Steering Committee and Working Group meetings may be found on the MCCC Calendar. 

With your working knowledge of these Support Engineering concepts,’ practices and metrics plus a desire to be part of the solution, there are likely many ways for you to become involved in your State to ensure your State properly plans and prepares, and implements RMS-based solutions forward–going.  If you are looking for way to be part of the climate change solution, this is an excellent way forward to a productive and meaningful service to our Country.