Maps on climate change adaptation / Part one : international negotiations

Dear all, We are very proud to introduce the results of the EMAPS first data Sprint (Paris January 6th to 10th 2014) and share them with you. The UNFCCC negotiations was the topic we selected as an important arena for global governance of climate change & adaptation. This arena produces a lot of data which [...]

Amsterdam Sprint: Coping with Vulnerability to Climate Change

January 30th, 2014

The University of Amsterdam is pleased to announce the second in its series of four EMAPS sprints dedicated to mapping climate change controversies, entitled “Coping with Vulnerability to Climate Change: Adaptation, its Limits and Post-adaptation Mechanisms.” The sprint will take place between 24 and 28 March 2014 at the University of Amsterdam. The sprint is five days, with the first day dedicated to presentations by issue experts, followed by three days of project work and a last day devoted to presenting the outcomes and discussing the next steps to follow.

The 19th conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which took place in November 2013, culminated in the establishment of an “international mechanism for loss and damage”. According to the UNFCCC Decision CP.19, “such an international mechanism include[s] functions and modalities to address loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.” Some of the adverse effects prompting this arrangement include extreme weather events and sea level rise. Crucially, the same document acknowledges that “loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change includes, and in some cases involves more than, that which can be reduced by adaptation”. This recognition of the limits of adaptation marks the opening up of the climate change debates to a new phase that deals with loss and damage as a consequence of the failure to adapt and to mitigate. The sprint “Coping with Vulnerability to Climate Change: Adaptation, its Limits and Post-adaptation Mechanisms” addresses national and urban adaptation mechanisms, as well as mechanisms to cope with vulnerability post-adaptation, such as the increasingly prominent “loss and damage” arrangement. Building on a Digital Methods Initiative workshop from October 2013, this sprint also explores other prominent scenarios resulting from the limits or failure to adapt, such as risk management, regional tensions and conflict.

Figure 1. ‘Climate Vulnerability World Map’. The map indicates the least and most vulnerable countries, as well as the uncertain ones, based on the triangulation of three vulnerability indexes: the DARA Climate Vulnerability Monitor (CVM)Germanwatch and the GAIN Index. Source: Digital Methods Initiative Climate Conflicts workshop, October 2013

Against this background, a number of research questions are identified per theme.

Vulnerability

Vulnerability is given a range of definitions. A number of different variables, from environmental disasters, to habitat change and industry stress, are taken into account in the measurement of vulnerability.

  • How is the issue of vulnerability to climate change coming into being in online and scientific literature?
  • How resonant are different national vulnerability indexes online and in scientific literature? Which are the central and which are the neglected ones?
  • How resonant are different variables or indicators in the composition of national vulnerability indexes?
  • What countries are of concern according to various indexes and which are the safe spots?
  • How prominent are these countries in the online issue space of climate change and that of its sub-issues (demarcated through their vulnerability indicators)?
Maplecroft’s Climate Change Vulnerability Index indicates seven cities central to global economic activity as subject to extreme risk: Dhaka (Bangladesh), Manila (the Philippines), Bangkok (Thailand), Yangon (Myanmar), Jakarta (Indonesia), Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), and Kolkata (India).
  • How is urban vulnerability to climate change becoming an issue online?
  • How prominent are these cities in the online issue space of climate change and that of its sub-issues (demarcated through their vulnerability indicators)? How does this resonance vary across online issue spaces, looking at a city’s resonance within climate change on Google.com, Google News, Twitter and other spaces?
  • How does imagery (using Google Image results) depict urban spaces for the top most vulnerable and top most resilient cities?

Adaptation

  • How is the issue of climate change adaptation discussed online?
  • How do online debates around climate change adaptation evolve over time?
  • How is climate change adaptation localised? How is “the local” present in online adaptation debates (as a speaker or as a subject)?
  • Examining a database of over 300 climate change adaptation projects in Germany, provided by Competence Centre on Climate Impacts and Adaptation ( KomPass), we ask: What is the topical focus of these projects? Can issue attention cycles be identified? Who are the beneficiaries of these projects?
Loss and damage

As the relatively new issue of loss and damage enters the institutional agenda, we ask:
  • How is the issue of loss and damage discussed online? Is it a legal issue, a humanitarian issue, an economic issue, or a development issue? What are the scenarios, actors, and associated vulnerability variables? Who is driving this agenda and which are the neglected concerns and actors?

Conflict
As the discourse around the issue of climate change and conflict intensifies, we ask:

  • How is the issue of climate change conflict treated in various spheres online? What are the places of climate change conflicts? Who are the actors in this space? Who are the victims and decision makers?

Vulnerability, Resilience and Conflict: Mapping Climate Change, Reading Cli-fi.

December 11th, 2013

We dedicated this year’s Digital Methods Fall data sprint (25-21 October, 2013) to mapping climate change conflicts, climate refugees, water wars and other future risk scenarios. The interest in studying the intersection between climate change and conflict derives not only from the growing attention given to the topic (with more articles, studies and radio shows addressing this issue), but also an analytical question. Are we indeed able to identify a fourth ‘phase (after scepticism, mitigation and adaptation) in the climate change issue evolution organised around ‘conflict’?

The presentations on the first day of the data sprint set the tone. Sabine Niederer, who studies climate skepticism on the Web, gave an overview of scholarly work that focuses on the climate change debate and its coverage in mass media. Afterwards, Sophie Waterloo together with Richard Rogers presented the topic of climate change as an indirect cause of human conflict, discussing how this issue is approached in relevant literature and ways of mapping climate conflict scenarios online. Natalia Sanchez-Querubin introduced the genre of climate fiction (or cli-fi) and the underlying question: what does fiction add to the ongoing discourses around climate change? In order to be used as source material we acquired nearly twenty printed cli-fi books. The day came to an end with group formation, the formulation of specific research questions and preliminary strategies to address them, such as the treatment of cli-fi as offering alternative narratives about how to cope with climate change.

Figure 1. Screenshot from presentation slides. Stills images from films, magazines and artworks that represents the future after climate change as frozen. Left to right: The Colony (2013),  The Day After Tomorrow (2004), Absolute Zero (2006)Arctic Blast (2010)Quintet (1979) , Fact or Fantasy (World of Tomorrow), Snowpiercer (2013)Ice Age Future (2007) and Ice Age Premonition.

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Sprint / International negotiations on climate change adaptation

November 18th, 2013

Dear all, here is a short outline on the preparation of the Paris Sprint.

  • Dates & Venue

Jan 6th to 10th, at Sciences Po, Paris. We have pre-booked rooms in a nearby hotel.

  • Programme

Under deverlopment.

The first morning will be dedicated to presentations by alpha-users. Then, we will form interdisciplinary teams of 5/6 people constituted of EMAPS members + friends.

  • Topic

Adaptation is a latecomer on the scene of climate negotiations and is, to a large extent, unfit to such arena. Rooted in the tradition of United Nations diplomacy, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was originally instituted to address the eminently global challenge of greenhouse gases reduction through mitigation.

Local in its actions and effects, adaptation definitely entered the UNFCCC arena in 2000, when the inevitability of climate change impacts became evident and with it the need of developing countries to find international support for adaptation policies. In this framework, adaptation has largely become a question of financial flows.

Since mid-2000, however, the place of adaptation in the international negotiations has grown incessantly and actors have been struggling to put new issues on the negotiation agenda. The traditional boundaries of the UNFCCC are thus under pressure.

The controversies relating to the international negotiations on climate change adaptation tend to fall into two categories:

1. The controversies that take place within the UNFCCC itself and concern the rationales governing the transactions of adaptation money and the arguments and issues mobilized to support them:

a. What is adaptation money? A help from rich to poor countries to prepare for future climate change impacts (according to the development paradigm) VS a compensation from polluting to polluted countries to repair the current climate impacts (according to the “loss and damage” paradigm) VS a contribution to anticipate current extreme events (according to “disaster risk reduction” paradigm) ?
b. How should adaptation money be transferred? Which countries and institutions should govern the ‘adaptation funds’? How should the use of the money be monitored and accounted for? Which type of institutions should this funds be and how they should be organized?
c. Which objectives should drive financial aid for adaptation? decrease vulnerability to climate impacts (e.g. sea level, extreme events, droughts, environmental migrations, etc.)? increase adaptive capacity (e.g. poverty reduction, water security, food security, land use change, economic compensation, security, etc.)?
d. For all the previous questions, we can also ask who defended which position and when a given position or controversy was more discussed.

2. The controversies that take place outside the UNFCCC, or on the sideline of it, and concern the representativeness and the weight of the Convention’s negotiations in the larger debate on adaptation.

a. To what extent an essentially local problem such as adaptation can be managed effectively through an international forum?
b. When and to what extent issues discussed outside the UNFCCC in relation to adaptation have (or have not) become the subject of international negotiations?
c. Are the discourses of the actors in the negotiation coherent with their discourses and actions outside the UNFCCC?
d. How do non-national actors (NGOs, industrial lobbies) engage in and influence the negotiations ?

  •  Datasets

ENB reports
Climate Funds Update
Web corpus
Scientific literature
IPCC reports
UNFCCC documents (included COP country submissions, side events and SBSTA reports)
(if we have time) adaptation projects from different project collections
(The NY Times articles)

  • Alpha-users

We have contacted experts potentially interested in co-producing the maps with us, whom we adress as “alpha-users”. We want 5/6 of them. The contacted persons might of course redirect us to other experts. We will discuss the content of their presentation beforehand.
We are in discussion with Neil Adger & Richard Klein (academics), Alix Mazounie (NGO), Troels Dam Christensen (NGO/negotiator), the Green Climate Fund…
  • Other participants

EMAPS members : I already got some answers. Here is the form which you are invited to fill in to confirm your participation ASAP (and before the end of the week) :

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Q58PtYxvJRHYHitSX47lnuKu00CVfMmC7lFv617n598/edit

EMAPS members are encouraged to stay the whole duration of the Sprint.

Advisors : we have sent an invitation to Pelle Ehn and David Chavalarias.

Students : we plan to have 3 Density Design former students.

Issue experts : we want to have experts of the climate controversy (apart from Mark who will be there as well) like Amy Dahan & Christophe Buffet (Centre Alexandre Koyré), Clive Hamilton, Alice Caravani of Climate Funds Update (Overseas Development Institute). François Gemenne will moderate the presentations by alpha-users on the first morning.

  • Expenses

All expenses including transportation will be borne by Sciences Po. We will book hotel rooms, but we ask EMAPS participants to take care of their own travel, which will be reimbursed after the sprint.

 

DMI Summer School 2013: Mapping keyword uptake in the climate change debate

August 5th, 2013

Entitled “You are not the API I used to know: On the challenges of studying social media data”, the 7th annual DMI Summer School took place from 24th June to 5th July 2013 at the University of Amsterdam. This year’s Summer School generated tremendous interest and the turnout has never been this high. Participants attended lectures and workshops from experts in social media data and mapping, and conducted a variety of research projects.

One larger research project conducted at the DMI Summer School was dedicated to the mapping of climate change. The aim of this project was to explore the uptake of climate change issues across platforms and over time. The platforms included in this study were: the Google search engine, Google Trends, Twitter and Amazon. We asked: are there different discourses in the climate change issue space across platforms? Are these time-specific? Geo-specific? Platform-specific? User(type)-specific?

As a starting point for the cross-platform research first a list of keywords associated with each of the three approaches (scepticism, mitigation and adaptation) was build. This was done in a rather experimental but effective way, namely by means of the Amazon Book Explorer tool. As search terms, the three approaches to climate change (scepticism, mitigation and adaptation) were queried. As a result, the tool output the most popular books associated with the terms and any relevant metadata about them. From the book titles the researchers manually captured keywords, which were later cleaned and compiled into three different lists.

After compiling the three lists of keywords, their uptake in the different platforms was analysed. By means of the DMI tool TCAT (Twitter Capture and Analysis Tool), Twitter was queried for the presence of each of the keywords over a period of 7 months, as well as Google.com for a period of 10 years by using the Wayback Machine. For the platform Twitter it was also of interest which clusters can be identified within tweets on climate change, which resulted in a co-hashtag map (figure 1). This revealed that some geo-locations appeared to dominate the discourse, such as Australia and US (politics, flood and drought), and Canada (flood). Interestingly, the top clusters do not particularly match vocabularies of scepticism, mitigation and adaptation. Further, it was examined who the users of these hashtags are, and if certain hashtags relate to specific events. We found political polarisation among the users of conservative and progressive hashtags within the cluster around the Obama speech on climate change.

Figure 1: Twitter hashtag clusters around the hashtag global warming/climate change. Depicted as network graph. The visualization reveals clusters around geolocations such as Australia and US (politics, flood and drought), and Canada (flood), with each color representing a different cluster. Source: Hashtags associated with the queries [global warming], [globalwarming], [climate], [climatechange], [drought], [flood], collected through the DMI Twitter Capture and Analysis Tool (TCAT). Queries performed between Nov. 2012 – June 2013.

The sub-project on climate change popular language uptake on Amazon is another interesting project, as Amazon is approached and repurposed as a research engine rather than a mere online retailer of books. Here the question is what sub-issues in the climate change debate sell best over time and how the uptake of the different sub-areas of climate change (scepticism, mitigation and adaptation) evolves over time in the mainstream literature. For scepticism most of the successful language emphasizes the scandalous and urgent nature of deception, such as: “corruption”, “conspiracy” and “hoax”. The keywords or sub-issues captured for mitigation and adaptation are clustered around shared terms, even though they obey a different logic. When seen in a (issue) timeline (figure 2), it appears that popularity for mitigation and adaptation centers around more recent published books, while best selling books in the realm of scepticism is composed of both older and newer titles. This indicates that keywords used on the subject of climate change scepticism in mainstream literature remained relevant over the years. As for popularity, the analysis on Amazon’s query autocomplete system revealed that adaptation and several keywords associated with scepticism are suggested while mitigation is not, perhaps indicating a less popular or effective terminology.

Figure 2: Climate change formats and keyword uptake. Depicted as bubble matrix. The visualization includes on the right side the keywords captured from book titles, and below the year that corresponds to each of the books from which the keywords were captured. Every approach to climate change (adaptation, mitigation and skepticism) is depicted with a different color, allowing to identify overlapping and repetition amongst keywords. Source: best sellers books in Amazon.com associated with the queries [climate change mitigation], [climate change adaptation] and [climate change skepticism]. Queries performed on 30 June 2013.

This last project has caught our interest on how Amazon can further be repurposed as a research engine as a means to map issues.

Mapping with Others: How to Work with Climate Change Issue Experts

May 17th, 2013

Since February of this year we have been running the second version of the Issue Mapping for Politics course where students have engaged in climate change controversy mapping through three periods of the controversy: (1) the very existence of climate change, skepticism and causes, (2) mitigation (quantified self approach and carbon market approach), and (3) adaptation. Climate change issue experts have been involved in each of these stages. More precisely, they were invited to describe and present the state of affairs of their fields and tell us about their analytical needs. Based on these presentations students were asked to produce maps. Afterwards, we will organise a follow up with the issue experts to present them with the maps, and engage with them concerning the extent to which they meet their needs, including any new needs that arise from reading the maps.

During the EMAPS meeting last month, the University of Amsterdam presented field notes from our work with these climate change issue experts. Below is a summary of some of the most relevant things we learned from them, which we consider could be useful to other project members working with issue experts. The slides from our talk can be found here:

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University of Amsterdam new strategy for the second year of the project

February 22nd, 2013

This blog post is a response to Axel’s post asking each partner to rethink their work according to the new strategy discussed in the project meeting back in December. It details the work that the University of Amsterdam will be conducting in this second year of the project.

Over a period of 16 weeks, which started in the first week of February,  the University of Amsterdam will be running the Issue Mapping for Politics course. The course takes students through four different mapping methodologies and theories: controversy mapping in the style of Bruno Latour and Tomasso Venturini, risk cartography using Ulrich Beck’s theories about global risks, critical and neo-cartography using Jeremy Crampton guidelines on the subject, and finally issue mapping techniques developed at the University of Amsterdam.

Students are encouraged to apply these methods and theories on mapping climate change. We are aiming to study climate change controversies through three periods: (1) climate change existence, skepticism and causes, (2) mitigation (personal approach and market approach), and (3) adaptation. This practical part of the course is where the University of Amsterdam will be implementing the new project strategy discussed in December. In each class we are inviting one issue expert: one climate change skepticism expert, one carbon trader, one carbon footprint quant, and one city auditor to talk to students about their work in these areas and about their mapping needs. The students are invited to produce maps and visualisations in response to these discussions with climate change experts. In parallel we will connect with the Guardian Datablog and other media organisations in order to understand mapping needs of yet another important category of users, and aim to collaboratively produce maps and visualisations that are of interest to the Datablog and other publications.

In terms of the project plan and description of work, there is one main change that we anticipate. According to the Gantt chart, in the second year of the project, the main contributions that the University of Amsterdam brings are the release of D1.2 “Recommendations and guidelines for the project” in March, which will consist of the ageing book, now in its final stages of production, and the work under work package 4, “Platform development and community building.” The UvA can include the engagement with expert users and production of climate change maps and visualisations in this work package. In this case, the starting date of the work package, which is now the second half of the year, would need to be changed to February 2013. The outcome of the work will be documented on the EMAPS platform and included in one of the final deliverables, due in the last month of the project.

A few things we learned thanks to the Issue Safari

December 21st, 2012

On December 12 2012, the EMAPS project organized its first Issue Safari.
Such workshop was an improved version of the seminar we organized in June 2012. In both cases the objective was to submit some of a set of maps we had prepared on the theme of aging in UK to the evaluation of a selected group of potential users.
The first workshop had been very interesting, but had also revealed the great difficulty of finding a common ground between mappers and users. Users were very critical on several aspects: from the choice of the research questions, to the datased employed, from the visualisations employed to the legibility of the maps (see emapsproject.com/blog/archives/1329).
In order to overcome this difficulty, we started a new process of interaction with the users (described here emapsproject.com/blog/archives/1701, here emapsproject.com/blog/archives/1728 and here emapsproject.com/blog/archives/1754). This process helped us to produce a more effective set of maps and to identify a groups of users potentially more interested in our visualisations. The December Issue Safari was the result of this process.

I think it is fair to say that the Issue Safari has been a success in the sense that we have greatly improved the adaptation between users and maps. Most users found most maps relevant and engaged with them in interesting ways. This allowed us to collect a richer user-feedback that we will now be able to re-invest in the case study of climate change adaptation.

Drawing on a very detailed set of notes collected during the Safari by the facilitator of the Young Foundation and compiled by Lucy Kimbell, I have prepared the following synthesis of the lessons we learnt during this workshop

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Studying factions of users in Wikipedia

December 11th, 2012

In a recent study, we analysed the interactions between self-proclaimed Democrats and Repubblicans in Wikipedia.

We started from the identification of users having in their personal page a userbox indicating support for one of the two major US parties. In this way, we were able to identify about 800 Democrats and 600 Republicans.

This allowed us to study representation practices, activity and interactions of these two sets of users according to several dimensions, such as the kind of the other userboxes they had in their profile, the articles most edited by each party, the presence of conflict in the threads in which they were involved, and the emotional content of their messages.

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A speculative blog post about changing how we engage with issue professionals in the design and production of issue maps within EMAPS

December 10th, 2012

Ahead of our two-day workshop in London later this week, I present some suggestions that follow on from our discussions in the project team about we can engage productively with people who might use the issue maps we are creating in the project. As I understand it, the role of The Young Foundation in the EMAPS project is primarily about helping to engage with people beyond the project team, specifically with the communities of issue professionals working on the two topics.

This post builds on recent emails and skype meetings between us; our small workshop in Oxford in October (see posts by Michele and Benedetta in Milano and by me afterwards, with comments by other EMAPS team members), as well as our June meeting in London (see posts by Tommaso) and discussions about the design process by Milano and Paris.

I will cover

  • a narrative about the project’s trajectory to date in terms of engaging with issue professionals, written from a personal perspective as someone working within YF on EMAPs since March 2012 (when I was employed there, and now freelance);
  • a brief introduction to some concepts and methods from the fields of Participatory Design and Design Research, which offer some approaches that could move EMAPS towards a more participatory mode of designing/using maps in the context of a research project;
  • a speculative description of what these concepts and methods might look like in practice, if the EMAPS team decided to use them.

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View Statistics of Wikipedia pages

December 10th, 2012

We have recently started to work with an interesting additional data-source for Wikipedia data: the number of views per hour a specific Wikipedia page receives. This data is available at this website http://dumps.wikimedia.org/other/pagecounts-raw/ and contains view data since 2008.

Below we present three examples of the temporal evolution in  the interest a specific Wikipedia article generates. Until now we have extracted and processed view data from 2008 till March 2010, more data is being currently downloaded.

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