A federal freshwater adaptation law in the US? Pat Mulroy - Part 3: Consensus & Economics

Part 3 — Consensus and Economics (and the first piece of US freshwater adaptation legislation to come before the US Congress!)
In the third and final part of Pat Mulroy’s interview, she discusses how policy, economics, and climate change come together — both in the Colorado river basin and around freshwater management across the US. Climate impacts in hydrology and ecology are altering the economic landscape across the region, and policymakers and the public are faced with difficult and often expensive choices.

Perhaps most remarkable, Pat Mulroy discusses the first domestic piece of climate adaptation legislation at the national level in the US, which has been proposed in the US House of Representatives by Lois
Cardin of California and in the Senate by Benjamin Cardin of Maryland, Barbara Boxer of California, and Harry Reid of Nevada (where Pat’s office is located).

For more information on this first piece of climate adaptation legislation and the Southern Nevada Water Authority, select Read More. Read More...

The first steps to 8 billion: population pressures, adaptation, and climate change

Demographers predict the 7th billion person will be born on October 31st — today we begin walking towards 8 billion and beyond. As our global population grows, more people will be exposed to climate change impacts and the need to adapt.  Women and children in the developing world are disproportionately affected by these changes. Population Action International (PAI) suggests family planning as an opportunity to improve the health of women and children and also reduce the pressure on natural resources like water and energy, increasing our resilience to climate change.
We see this as evidence that climate change adaptation comes in many forms and that impacts on resources, especially water, are central to how we make decisions for ourselves and our families. For instance, a team of researchers led by Dr. Eugenia Kalnay at the University of Maryland have looked into the dynamic and complex relationship between climate, population, and shifting demands on resources. They suggest that addressing population growth in climate models eliminates “the elephant in the room,” and that family planning does not just contribute to women’s empowerment of their own reproductive health but also reduces the strain on resources and makes sense for the growth of the global economy. Check out a presentation on the study
here, created in part by Fernando Miralles-Wilhem, who was also interviewed on this site earlier this year.

Weathering Change below, PAI shares the stories of women living in Nepal, Peru and Ethiopia who are living with the realities of climate change and the need to adapt for themselves and their families. We encourage you to watch the video, share with your circles, and help us spread the message about the relationship between water, climate change adaption and empowering individuals to find solutions.


Pat Mulroy - Part 2: Adapting the Invisible Utility

Part 2 — Institutions and Infrastructure
Expanding on topics brought up in Part 1, water manager Pat Mulroy explores in Institutions and Infrastructure how the policy, governance, and history of the Colorado river region are interacting with the “new normal” water-scarce conditions.

How are ordinary people and decision makers responding to a long drought? How do we pursue consensus over conflict? While institutions can shift, bend, and anticipate, water infrastructure like dams, pipes, and valves are far more fixed and rigid. If they weren’t designed for current (or projected) conditions, then how can people either adjust to inefficiency or modify that infrastructure? Perhaps most importantly, how do we begin to think about sustainability in the context of a shifting climate?

For more information and background on the Colorado River and the Southern Nevada Water Authority, select Read More. Read More...

Pat Mulroy - Part 1: Adapting the Invisible Utility

Part 1 — Connections and Threats
Pat Mulroy manages water over a vast piece of real estate in the southwestern United States. But — as she will quickly make clear — there isn’t a lot of water there. There never was much water there, in fact. As a result, the cities, farms, and factories spanning the greater Colorado River basin have learned to live with less. The best of them have also learned to be efficient and smart in their growth. But the past twelve years have either been a drought or the start of a new normal, where only a few inches of rain each year became even less. That’s the threat.

As a result, the region whose water is governed by the Southern Nevada Water Authority that Pat manages has had to look beyond its borders for allies and cooperation. The stability, security, and growth of economic engines such as Las Vegas depend on these alliances. Those are the connections.

In the first of three videos presented here, Pat discusses the actual and virtual basin where southern Nevada is embedded.

For more information and background on the Colorado River and the Southern Nevada Water Authority, select Read More.

Lee Hannah: The ecology of climate change adaptation

Dr. Lee Hannah is an ecologist with Conservation International and the University of California, Santa Barbara. He's also one of only a few scientists who has been engaged for well over a decade on climate adaptation, so he has a deep perspective on how the science of climate adaptation has been evolving and where it might be headed. Working globally and regionally, Lee has been trying to bridge the gap between studying the impacts of climate and helping species, ecosystems, and communities and economies in the developing world adjust to the emerging climate. His work spans the laboratory, the field, and science and resource management policy. Here, we present a short video with some highlights of the discussion Lee and I had. If you are intrigued and want more detail about how climate adaptation science is evolving and how resource managers should begin to engage with adaptation into their daily work, we also have a more detailed and extended audio podcast of our conversation available on this page as well.

Click here for the extended discussion podcast.