July 2015
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Welcome to our summer issue of the MAHB newsletter

There has been no shortage of positive ongoings in the climate change movement in recent months, from the Pope's encyclical to China's INDC announcement to the International Energy Agency's World Energy Outlook. However, as we continue to build positive momentum, an ever increasing body of evidence, including the confirmation of the 6th mass extinction, the Lancet Commission’s report on Health and Climate Change and the G7-commissioned report, A New Climate for Peace demonstrates that we need action now.

The growing MAHB Committee continues to push forward for change and we are happy to share with you action updates from three MAHB Nodes: Climate Interactive, YardMap and MAHB Norway.

We also wanted to share three upcoming MOOCs (massive open online courses) that may be of interest, a summary of World Population Day on July 11th, and a fascinating look at the Body of Water performance. Lastly, we are thrilled to have new additions to our newsletter team—meet Lisa Coedy and David Belt!

We hope you enjoy this summer issue. Thank you for reading, please contact us with any comments or questions.

Node | Climate Interactive

Lisa Coedy

Looking to kick off a powerful and transformational conversation about climate change in the lead up to the Paris climate negotiations? Climate Interactive's World Climate Project is an effort to engage people through mock-UN climate negotiation games. Developed in partnership with MIT, World Climate was created to insight powerful, transformational moments that engage global citizens in what is needed to address the climate challenge.

Climate Interactive creates dynamic and scientifically rigorous tools to help people see connections, understand the big picture and focus on what works to address the complex challenges that affect our lives. Its simulation tools cover a range of topics, from climate change and clean energy to disaster risk reduction and resilience. These tools are used to advise government agencies, NGOs, businesses and the scientific community to help see what options exist today to create the future we want to see. 

Right now, Climate Interactive seeks to engage people from all walks of life by hosting events to run the World Climate exercise. Through World Climate, everyone can have a taste of what it is like to be a real UN climate negotiator and understand the stakes of the challenge we face. The cornerstone of the World Climate game is Climate Interactive’s interactive computer simulation C-ROADS that is being used by negotiators to assess the climate commitments for the UN talks in Paris (COP21).

The game divides groups into different national negotiating teams and challenges them to create a deal to successfully meet the climate challenge in a 2-3 hour event. Participants grapple with climate change science, engage in the drama and tensions of global politics, test their ambitions against an award-winning climate-modeling tool, and then reflect on how the experience challenges their assumptions. World Climate has been run in dozens of countries, in numerous languages, by a wide range of groups and individuals, including serious climate scientists, the Dalai Lama, Fortune 500 business leaders and Chinese Government officials—and also thousands of students.

Climate Interactive is looking for hosts, facilitators, teachers, conveners, cookie-bakers, scientists, and artists to take the World Climate Project challenge. Attend an upcoming training webinar, or just jump in and plan your own World Climate Event with the available facilitator materials.

For more information, visit Climate Interactive's website
Climate Interactive

Node | YardMap

Lisa Coedy

A Citizen Science Project developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, YardMap is designed to cultivate a richer understanding of the potential importance of householders’ conservation practices, for both professional scientists and the general public concerned with their local environments.

YardMap is a socially networked online platform that allows users to draw detailed maps of any kind of landscape and provide data on different management practices like keeping cats inside, refraining from pesticide use and installing solar panels. It is the world's first interactive citizen scientist social network and seeks to connect the work of like-minded individuals in neighborhoods, and across the world. 

A one-stop shop for learning about and documenting conservation practices, YardMap participants can show off their sustainability practices, discussing and sharing tools and tactics with each other in a visual way. Detailed information is provided on local resources specific to a participant's geographic region, where they can learn how to take action and make positive changes to their yards. YardMap can be used to learn about a variety of practices and the social visibility it provides is designed to act as a source of inspiration for habitat improvements. Since launching in 2012, YardMap has over 15,000 users and is growing exponentially.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is harnessing the web, social networking and citizen science methodologies to tackle the difficult problem of collective action in real life. Over the longer term, data from YardMap can be combined with the Lab of Ornithology’s bird monitoring data in an effort to learn more about practices to improve the wildlife value of residential landscapes, as well as to understand the impacts urban and suburban wildlife corridors have on birds.

YardMap has big plans for the future. It will soon power a co-branded effort with The Nature Conservancy under the name "Habitat Network". A smartphone app is in the works and new tools are being launched to allow users to form groups and track their collective performance. In addition, the development team is currently using A/B testing of different versions of YardMap to assess how people learn and behave in differently constructed Web environments that allow them to interact with people and objects representing actions and behaviors. This kind of research can provide insights on how to improve web architectures to support learning, behavior change and cooperation in a variety of contexts.

Sign up today and join one of the biggest networks of citizen and professional scientists in the world! 

Node | MAHB Norway

Lisa Coedy with correspondence from Ilan Kelman

Norway's MAHB node has engaged primarily with the Many Strong Voices program which works with peoples from the Arctic and small island developing states to address climate change within wider contexts of sustainability. That has led to numerous scientific publications as well as future plans through two upcoming workshops on climate change and well-being.

Two major projects funded by the Research Council of Norway continue. First, reasons for migrating from Indian Ocean islands, with case studies of Maldives and Lakshadweep, India. Second, corporate social responsibility for Arctic petroleum comparing Norway and Russia. Both projects finish this year and we are currently writing up scientific papers based on the results. 

Additionally, several other publications have emerged from the Norway MAHB node. Recent blogs include discussing the Nepal earthquake, climate change and health, droughts around the world, avoiding disaster, and The Squirrel Factor. Recent scientific articles examine the connection between climate change and disasters from two perspectives:

1. Climate Change's Role in Disaster Risk Reduction's Future.

2. Climate Change and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Other scientific works include "Disability and Disaster", with narratives of people with disabilities about their disaster-related experiences, and "Geographies of resilience", critiquing the popular concept of "resilience". A paper on island innovation is due out soon along with one on households dealing with floods in the Czech Republic. This work has led to public talks and scientific seminars in the past months, including in Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Turkey, and the U.K.

If any of these topics interest you, please contact Ilan. We are particularly keen to hear from people interested in the polar regions, both the Arctic and Antarctica, and any islands around the world. The key is placing climate change as one challenge amongst many within disaster risk reduction which, in turn, is one challenge amongst many within wider sustainability processes.

The above photo from Uummannaq, Greenland by Nina Nielsen is part of the Portraits of Resilience photojournalism project. 

In 2003 Christine Germano created the photojournalism program Through Our Eyes®, to work with First Nation youth assisting them with developing their own images and text on what their community means to them. In 2008 Germano adapted the Through Our Eyes® program into the international project Portraits of Resilience. This project illustrates in a direct and personal way the ethical dimension of climate change. Its goal is to bring human faces and images of the Arctic and other vulnerable regions onto the floor of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations. It is important that the world be able to see not only the effects of climate change but also the efforts people are making to both combat and adapt to it. The project has occurred in 29 communities in 12 countries (Greenland, Norway, Canada, USA, Russia, Fiji, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Barbuda and Seychelles). The Portraits of Resilience project was
 launched at the National Museum of Denmark during the COP 15 in 2009 and has continued to exhibit internationally. 

Find out more about our Nodes at MAHB
To share your Node's recent activities, please contact

Upcoming MOOCs

Whether you are wanting an introduction to a new field or to learn about cutting-edge developments, massive open online courses from the world's leading universities are a wonderful resource to explore. Here are a few starting in September:

Lund University | Greening the Economy: Lessons from Scandinavia: Offered September 14 - October 19 (5 weeks). Scandinavia is a great starting point for learning about greening the economy on four levels - individual, business, city and nation - as it is a pioneering place advancing sustainability and combating climate change.

Delft University of Technology | Introduction to Water and Climate: Offered September 1 - October 7 (7 weeks). In a world where availability of fresh water is of increasing concern, explore how climate change, water availability and engineering innovation are key challenges for our planet.

UC Berkeley | Biology for Voters, Part I: Offered September 9 - October 15 (7 weeks). Each year, as a voter, you are asked to make decisions on ballot initiatives on matters of biology, medicine, agriculture and the environment. Learn about the science behind making informed decisions at the polls and how each vote in a democracy affects the way biology functions in your everyday life.

World Population Day

World Population Day is an annual event observed on July 11th that seeks to raise awareness of global population issues. It was established by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Program in 1989. The theme of this year's World Population Day was Vulnerable Populations in Emergencies, a pressing issue we are facing as the world is seeing a record number of people displaced by crises - some 60 million according to the latest UN figures. With population projections indicating we will approach 10 billion people by 2050 and 11 billion by the end of the century, addressing and finding solutions to population issues are critical.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. UNFPA works in emergency settings around the globe to respond to the rights and needs of women and girls, helping them maintain their dignity, securing their safety, and restoring their access to sexual and reproductive health care. Stay informed on this growing issue by visiting UNFPA's website or by viewing the UNFPA's Executive Director's 2015 message.

Did you use World Population Day 2015 to raise awareness about global population issues? Let us know how on the MAHB website.

Body of Water

Erika Gavernus, photo by Luther College Photo Bureau

Water issues run deep in the agriculturally-dominated landscape of Iowa, often dividing communities. However, as the Luther College performance Body of Water demonstrated water can also bring people together.

Body of Water emerged from a collaboration between dance professor, Jane Hawley, and biology professor, Jodi Enos-Berlage. The performance’s intentional merging of science and arts brought diverse groups --farmers, urban residents, scientists, artists, students, faculty, community members and leaders together as an audience united by their emotional connections to water.

The performance enlisted dance, music, colorful sets, and video interviews to portray the complicated story of water and the relationships we have with it. Audience members were encouraged to arrive early to explore a pre-performance exhibit sharing Enos-Berlage's ongoing research occurring in the Dry Run Creek Watershed and learn about local water issues.

Enos-Berlage explained to Kate Frentzel with the Luther Alumni Magazine, “Water quality is a community problem and will require community-based solutions, and we wanted the performance to reflect that.”

Since performing for full-houses at Luther College on March 5-7th, Body of Water traveled to Grinnell College’s Arts and Sciences Summerfest event in June and a film documenting the performance is currently under production. Both Hawley and Enos-Berlage are eager to share what they have learned from the process and to continue bringing emotional connections to scientific issues through collaboration.

Welcoming Lisa and David

This month sees some new recruits to the newsletter team as we continue to keep you informed about news, events and developments within the MAHB community.  Here's a little about each of them.

Lisa Coedy, Editor
A passionate environmentalist with a Bachelor of Business Administration from Brock University, Canada and an MBA from the University of New Hampshire who is looking to connect people the world over with inspiring insights that drive action in our fight for environmental conservation and against climate change. With over 10 years of experience in marketing and market research, Lisa is using her corporate experience, boundless energy and love of nature to make a positive and lasting difference across a number of non-profit organizations in a range of fields, including food and farming, clean energy initiatives and inequality reduction. 

David Belt, Graphic Design
An experienced engineer working in the aerospace industry to develop new products and technologies for the future.  David is motivated to create things that will positively affect (inspire, inform, enable) people through engineering, design, photography and sport. thus having volunteered for several NPOs in the past, he is now looking forward to contributing to MAHB's cause in his own small way.

Please join the MAHB in welcoming and thanking Lisa and David!

Coordinating Committee

Erik Assadourian: Senior Fellow, Worldwatch Institute; Director of Transforming Cultures Project and Co-Director of State of the World 2013 and 2012

Paul Ehrlich: Bing Professor of Population Studies and President, Center for Conservation Biology, Stanford University

Marilyn Hempel: Co-founder, Blue Planet United; Editor, Pop!ulation Press

Ilan Kelman: Reader in Risk, Resilience and Global Health, Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction and Institute for Global Health, University College London; Senior Research Fellow, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs

Richard York: Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies, Director of Graduate Studies for Sociology, Department of Sociology, University of Oregon

Joan Diamond, ex-officio, Secratariat: Chief Operating Officer, The Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability

Advisory Board

Tom Burns: Professor Emeritus, Uppsala University, Sweden; Woods Institute, Stanford University

Tom Dietz: Professor Sociology, Environmental Science and Policy and Animal Studies; Assistant VP for Environmental Research at Michigan State University

Anne Ehrlich: Policy Coordinator, Center for Conservation Biology, Stanford University

Bob Horn: Visiting Scholar, H-STAR, Human Sciences and Technology Advanced Research Institute, Stanford University

Don Kennedy: Bing Professor of Environmental Sciences; President, emeritus, Stanford University; Senior Fellow, Woods Institute

Hal Mooney: Paul S. Achilles Professor of Environmental Biology and FSI Senior Fellow, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University

Kirk Smith: Professor of Global Environmental Health, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley

Joan Diamond, Executive Director | Erika Gavenus, Communications Officer
Peter and Helen Bing | Larry Condon | Wren Wirth | The Mertz Gilmore Foundation | The Winslow Foundation
Copyright © 2015 Millennium Alliance for Humanity and Biosphere, All rights reserved.