[13 October 2014] Signs of Hope: In a column in the journal ApoGeo, I see signs of hope, as faint as they may be, that the year 2015 will mark the start of ten years in which we as a global community will make significant progress towards global reslience. Read the column ...
[24 July 2014] Credibility of Science: In a column in the journal ApoGeo, I find that the credibility of science requries scientists to better clarify what they do not know instead of mapping this all into a wide range of uncertainty. I use the recent rapid change in our knowledge of the potential contribution of ice sheets to sea level rise as an example to illustrate the problems in communicating scientific knowledge to society. Read the column ...
[20 May 2014] Risk management: The newest contribution to my column in ApoGeo titled “Risk Management — Climate VS. Car Crashes” provides the second part of my answer to a 20-year old student, who after listening to one of my lectures on climate change asked me what I would like to tell my 20-year old self. Read the column ...
[26 April 2014] Talking to the Younger Self: I published a guest column titled “A talk with a younger self” in the Virginia Pilot on April 20, 2014, which triggered considerable discussion. The latest contribution is a letter to the editor titled Younger Self, which stimulated more than 40 comments.
[23 February 2014] Humanity for Economy or Economy for Humanity? - What to tell your 20-year-old self. An economic pledge binding us to safeguard the Earth's life-support systems while satisfying our needs could open an avenue to sustainable development. Read more ...
[January 17, 2014] Ministerial Summit agrees on Continuation of GEO: The Ministerial Summit on Earth Observations held in Geneva today agreed to continue the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) for another 10 years. In their guidance, the ministers urged GEO to focus on five key areas:
- Advocate for the value of Earth observations and the need to continue improving Earth observation worldwide;
- Urge the adoption and implementation of data sharing principles globally;
- Advance the development of the GEOSS information system for the benefit of users;
- Develop a comprehensive interdisciplinary knowledge base defining and documenting observations needed for all disciplines and facilitate availability and accessibility of these observations to user communities; and
- Cultivate global initiatives tailored to meet specific user needs.
[November 16, 2013] CCAN Workshop on “Safe Coast Virginia” underlined the challenge of sea level rise for Hampton Roads: A workshop discussing the challenge of climate change and sea level rise for Virginia's coasts and options for adaptation (see the announcement) organized by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN brought together key stakeholders in the region, who emphasized the scale of the challenge Hampton Roads and Virginia's coasts are facing and made a claim for urgent action. The CCSLRI director contributed a presentation (pdf).
[25 October 2013] Uncontrolled experiment or planetary accident? We are conducting an
“uncontrolled experiment” with the planet that could turn into an extinction-class event. Read more ...
[30 August 2013] Can we fathom the threat of rising seas? The rising seas made it into National Geographic - but do we fathom the threat of rapidly changing coast lines? Rapidly changing sea levels are outside of the normality experienced by humanity through 6,000 years of emerging civilizations, and it is very likely that our normality bias leads us to crossly underestimate the threat. Read more ...
[02 August 2013] A speed of change outside the "normal": We have pushed Earth into a speed of change outside of the “normal” during the last 65 Million years. How can we expect that this speed of change will not transform the biosphere in its core and challenge humanity as a species? Read more ...
[08 July 2013] Alarmist or Realist?: The second article in the column “On the Edge” in ApoGeo (formerly Imaging Notes) has been published with the subheading “The Art and Urgency of Creating Worry”. The author discusses the need to “irrationalize” the facts about climate change so that we can integrated them into our decision making, which is not dominated by rational facts but rather by our fears and worries. The column starts on page 18 of the Summer issue available at http://www.apogeospatial.com/images/apogeo_su2013_lowres.pdf.
[June 30, 2013] James Balog at the AGU Science Policy Conference: James Balog, the man behind the award-winning documentary "Chasing Ice," spoke about the impacts we have on our home planet and how dire our future will be because of these impacts. See the presentation available on AGU's Video-On-Demand page ...
[10 June 2013] Back from another planet: Unpacking a new country can hold surprises, and they are not always the best. After only a few months in South Africa, I am back in the USA; now at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Although life at the East Coast seems to be quite different from the West Coast, any differences are small compared to the differences between the US and Europe on the one side and South Africa on the other side. It makes sense to say we returned from another planet ...
[05 June 2013] Running in Fog: The first article in the new column “On the Edge” in ApoGeo (formerly Imaging Notes) has been published with the heading “Finding a Safe Operating Space for Humanity”. In this column, Hans-Peter Plag makes clear that it is not the planet, but rather humanity that is on the edge. The column starts on page 22 of the Spring issue available at http://www.apogeospatial.com/images/apogeo_sp2013.pdf.
[09 March 2013] Epic Global Warming: CCN comments on a recent long-term study, which indicates that within a century we pushed our home planet from one of the coldest times in the last 11,000 years to the hotest time. See the CNN Article. We are rapidly pushing our home outside of the "safe operating space of humanity" ...
[09 December 2012] Earth from Space: ESA's Web TV series featuring Earth from Space is just nice to watch. See, for example, the Friday, December 7, 2012 feature on the “Yellow River, Sea and Sand”.
[15 November 2012] I have moved to Africa: Since 1 November 2012, I am at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. After having it done now five times, unpacking a new country is still exciting and full of challenges. And South Africa is in many respects different from the other countries I have unpacked so far.
[25 December 2011] The decision makers don't want to have truth constrain their decisions: “We are changing the large-scale properties of the atmosphere — we know that beyond a shadow of a doubt ... You can't engage in this vast planetary experiment — warming the surface, warming the atmosphere, moistening the atmosphere — and have no impact on the frequency and duration of extreme events.” This is a quote from today's article in the New York
Times, which reports that Benjamin D. Santer, a leading climate scientist who works at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, made this statement. The article indicates that decision makers in politics are not supportive of science in underpining this statement. Read the article ...
[2 December 2011] ESF Conference on extreme geohazards: The European Science Foundation (ESF) conference on “Understanding Extreme Geohazards: The Science of the Disaster Risk Management Cycle” was held on November 28 to December 1, 2011 in Sant Feliu de Guixols, Spain (near Barcelona). The conference brought together 55 leading experts and young researchers from four continents, who discussed scientific and societal aspects of the four phases of the risk management cycle (preparedness, early warning, response, and recovery) as they relate to disasters caused by extreme geohazards. The conference was organized under the lead of the GHCP. For details see the conference page.
Participants of the European Science Conference on "Understanding Extreme Geohazards: The Science of the Disaster Risk Management Cycle."
[24 November 2011] Fourth IGCP 565 Workshop took place in Johannesburg, South Africa: The fourth annual Workshop of the IGCP 565 Project was held on November 22-23, 2011 at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. The workshop was co-located with the AfricaArray workshop, which took place on November 20-21, 2011. A joint session was organized on the afternoon of November 21, 2011. The IGCP Workshop focussed on Support for water management through hydrological models and data assimilation. For more details the here.
Participants of the IGCP 565 Project Workshop and the AfricaArray Workshop.
[1 November 2011] IGCP 565 Workshop in Johannesburg: The fourth annual workshop of the IGCP 565 Project “Developing the Global Geodetic Observing System into a Monitoring System for the Global water Cycle” (web site) will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, on November 21-22, 2011; see the Workshop page or the Detailed Program.
[18 October 2011] Program of ESF Conference on major geohazards available: The detailed program of the European Science Foundation (ESF) conference titled “Understanding Extreme Geohazards: The Science of the Disaster Risk Management Cycle” which will take place on November 27 to December 2, 2011 in Sant Feliu de Guixols, Spain, is now available. See the Program or the Conference Pagefor more information.
[8 June 2011] Major Disasters addressed at AGU: At the 2011 Fall AGU in San Francisco, there will be a session on “Characterizing Major Disasters Caused by Geohazards”; see the Announcement for more details.
[17 May 2011] GEO Newsletter reports on User-driven GEOSS Workshop: The GEO Newsletter published today includes an article on the Workshop “Building a User-Driven GEOSS: Methods to Capture, Analyze, and Prioritize User Needs,” held in Sydney, Australia, on 10 April 2011. The workshop focused on promoting a truly user-driven development of GEOSS by assessing current and other potentially useful approaches to identifying user needs. Read the article ...
[23 March 2011] IEEE has a very informative blog on the Japan earthquake and nuclear energy: read more .... In particular, I like the contribution by Bill Sweet (posted Sat, March 12, 2011), who wrote: Worst-case scenario builders consistently underestimate the statistical probability of separate bad things happening simultaneously, as the result of the same underlying causes. This is true for all worst case scenarios we built, not just those related to anthropogenic disasters.
[21 March 2011] GEO Newsletter reports on CZCP Workshop: The GEO Newsletter published today includes an article on the 3rd regional Workshop of the CZCP, which took place on March 9-11, 2011 at the Sheradon in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Read the Newsletter ... Read the Workshop article ... The picture in the article of the North Coast of Puerto Rico was taken by me on Saturday, March 12, 2011.