Clear all

12 results found

reorder grid_view

The Role of Local Heating in the 2015 Indian Heat Wave

August 9, 2017

India faced a major heat wave during the summer of 2015. Temperature anomalies peaked in the dry period before the onset of the summer monsoon, suggesting that local land-atmosphere feedbacks involving desiccated soils and vegetation might have played a role in driving the heat extreme. Upon examination of in situ data, reanalysis, satellite observations, and land surface models, we find that the heat wave included two distinct peaks: one in late May, and a second in early June. During the first peak we find that clear skies led to a positive net radiation anomaly at the surface, but there is no significant sensible heat flux anomaly within the core of the heat wave affected region. By the time of the second peak, however, soil moisture had dropped to anomalously low levels in the core heat wave region, net surface radiation was anomalously high, and a significant positive sensible heat flux anomaly developed. This led to a substantial local forcing on air temperature that contributed to the intensity of the event. The analysis indicates that the highly agricultural landscape of North and Central India can reinforce heat extremes under dry conditions.

Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene

June 1, 2017

"Epicenters of Climate and Security: The New Geostrategic Landscape of the Anthropocene" is a multi-author, edited volume exploring a range of "epicenters" of climate and security and how they shape the geostrategic map of the 21st century. These epicenters are defined as "categories of systemic risk" driven by a changing climate interacting with other socio-political-economic dynamics. A systemic risk is a risk to a component or components of a system that, due to the critical nature of the components, can significantly disrupt (and sometimes collapse) the whole system that depends on it. In this report, an "epicenter" is defined as a category of systemic risk, or simply a collection of systemic risks with similar characteristics – a kind of "super-systemic risk." For example, the Strait of Malacca is a major maritime trade route connecting the Indian and Pacific Oceans that is critical for global trade and security. Risks to freedom of navigation through the Strait of Malacca, or broader risks to the stability of the Strait, can therefore be described as a systemic risk to global trade and global security. However, there is more than one critical maritime trade route in the world. The Strait of Hormuz, the Panama Canal, the Arctic Northwest Passage are just a few of these critical nodes in the global trade system. Many of these straits will face disruptions as a result of a changing climate. Together, these straits present a category of systemic risks to global trade and security, and are therefore considered an "epicenter" of climate and security. This volume explores many such epicenters.

Saúde na Copa: The World’s First Application of Participatory Surveillance for a Mass Gathering at FIFA World Cup 2014, Brazil

May 4, 2017

Background: The 2005 International Health Regulations (IHRs) established parameters for event assessments and notifications that may constitute public health emergencies of international concern. These requirements and parameters opened up space for the use of nonofficial mechanisms (such as websites, blogs, and social networks) and technological improvements of communication that can streamline the detection, monitoring, and response to health problems, and thus reduce damage caused by these problems. Specifically, the revised IHR created space for participatory surveillance to function, in addition to the traditional surveillance mechanisms of detection, monitoring, and response. Participatory surveillance is based on crowdsourcing methods that collect information from society and then return the collective knowledge gained from that information back to society. The spread of digital social networks and wiki-style knowledge platforms has created a very favorable environment for this model of production and social control of information.Objective: The aim of this study was to describe the use of a participatory surveillance app, Healthy Cup, for the early detection of acute disease outbreaks during the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup 2014. Our focus was on three specific syndromes (respiratory, diarrheal, and rash) related to six diseases that were considered important in a mass gathering context (influenza, measles, rubella, cholera, acute diarrhea, and dengue fever).Methods: From May 12 to July 13, 2014, users from anywhere in the world were able to download the Healthy Cup app and record their health condition, reporting whether they were good, very good, ill, or very ill. For users that reported being ill or very ill, a screen with a list of 10 symptoms was displayed. Participatory surveillance allows for the real-time identification of aggregates of symptoms that indicate possible cases of infectious diseases.Results: From May 12 through July 13, 2014, there were 9434 downloads of the Healthy Cup app and 7155 (75.84%) registered users. Among the registered users, 4706 (4706/7155, 65.77%) were active users who posted a total of 47,879 times during the study period. The maximum number of users that signed up in one day occurred on May 30, 2014, the day that the app was officially launched by the Minister of Health during a press conference. During this event, the Minister of Health announced the special government program Health in the World Cup on national television media. On that date, 3633 logins were recorded, which accounted for more than half of all sign-ups across the entire duration of the study (50.78%, 3633/7155).Conclusions: Participatory surveillance through community engagement is an innovative way to conduct epidemiological surveillance. Compared to traditional epidemiological surveillance, advantages include lower costs of data acquisition, timeliness of information collected and shared, platform scalability, and capacity for integration between the population being served and public health services.

Stopping Pandemics at the Source

January 1, 2017

* In July 2014, Skoll Global Threats Fund (SGTF) gave a $2 million, two-year grant to Chiang Mai University in Thailand to create the Participatory One Health Disease Detection (PODD) project—a first-of-its-kind community-owned pandemic surveillance and response system. SGTF issued a second grant in July 2016 to help scale the program to other regions in Thailand.* The goal of PODD is to enable early detection of animal-borne (zoonotic) disease outbreaks and prevent them from becoming pandemics. The grant funded the development and launch of a Thai-built mobile app that local volunteers use to report suspected outbreaks and other dangerous events, as well as the development of a protocol for coordinating fast evaluation and response among local government officials, veterinarians, and public health experts.* The PODD program had 300 trained local volunteers at launch, growing to more than 4,600 volunteers two years later.* Within the first few months, volunteers reported more animal disease events in those districtsusing PODD than had been reported in the whole province of Chiang Mai in the previous year. Within 16 months, 1,340 abnormal events were reported. Among those, a total of 36 incidents of dangerous zoonotic diseases were verified.* The early detection of one case of foot-and mouth disease, stopped before it could spread, saved $4 million.* PODD volunteers are now also using the system to report a range of other hazards, from fraudulent medication sales to landslides and flash floods.* In July 2016, Chiang Mai University transferred ownership of the PODD tool to the Thai government, which, with additional funding, could expand the project to additional provinces and eventually nationwide.

Proceedings and Observations from a Climate Risks Event

December 1, 2015

In March 2015, in Delhi, India, CNA held a game and scenario-planning session in support of the Skoll Global Threats Fund and the United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office. During the event, we explored the future effects of climate change as they relate to security around the world. Participants included renowned scientists, security experts, diplomats, and retired military personnel from Asia, Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Based on game play and discussions, we identified four major findings: (1) climate change may increase nationalism and policies of internalization in developed countries; (2) large-scale climate-induced migration may impact a country's international policies, economic situation, and defining cultural attributes, changing the way they participate in global commons; (3) competition for limited resources may increase as a source of friction and shape policies and international relations; and (4) climate change technologies are not viewed in the same way by all countries, and there is potential for an emerging disparity between regions over the consensus and control of these technologies. This document gives an overview of the event and discusses why we identified each of these factors as a security risk that could result from climate change.

Strengthening Transparency and Access to Information on Transboundary Rivers in South Asia

March 1, 2015

In June 2013 The Asia Foundation (TAF), with support from the Skoll Global Threats Fund (SGTF) and in partnership with the World Resources Institute (WRI) and civil society organizations in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal, initiated a project to promote and strengthen transparency and access to data and information on transboundary water governance in South Asia. Over a 15-month period, TAF and its partners assessed the availability of data and information relating to three transboundary rivers in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal, built the capacities of civil society and the media to utilize transparency tools and mechanisms including RTI to push for greater access to data and information on water and climate issues, and disseminated this information within the region. This report presents the regional and country-level findings and recommendations of the study. Our analysis of data-and information-sharing practices on water in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal highlights several barriers preventing the sharing of regional water and climate information — between governments, among departments and ministries within governments, and with the public.

Serious Games with Serious Players: Game Play with International Decision-makers

October 1, 2014

In 2013 the Skoll Global Threats Fund asked CNA Corporation to design and develop a game exploring information-sharing, conflict, and cooperation on the Indian subcontinent. The goal of the game was twofold: to understand information-sharing, its impediments and effects on water sharing and decision-making, as well as understand how gaming could be a tool for social change. The game was executed in two instances, one in the Washington, DC area with U.S. subject matter experts, and the other in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with senior leaders from each of the countries involved. This gives us a unique opportunity to explore how games compare acrosscultures, as well as how well this game allowed senior leaders to address controversial issues. We find that the cross-cultural effects occurred mostly in how particular countries implemented their policies, but that strategic issues and attitudes remained similar across the two instances of the game. From player feedback as well as game observations we conclude that games with senior officials from countries who have a history of tension between them are possible, and mayprovide a more engaging way for them to discuss controversial issues than a traditional meeting format.

Bone Dry and Flooding Soon

October 1, 2014

CNA Corporation, sponsored by the Skoll Global Threats Fund, executed two instances of a political decision-making game designed to explore informationsharing and cooperation over water on the Indian subcontinent. The game explored how Bangladesh, China, India, and Pakistan manage water resources between the Brahmaputra, Indus, and Ganges rivers. The first instance of the game took place in January 2014 in the Washington, DC area, and was played primarily by American subject matter experts. The second instance of the game was held in June 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and was played by retired senior officials with policy and military backgrounds, and water experts from all four South Asian countries. This document summarizes the second (regional) instance of the game, identifies strategic insights from the regional instance, and compares the two instances deriving further insights based on that comparison.

Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States

June 24, 2014

The American economy could face significant and widespread disruptions from climate change unless U.S. businesses and policymakers take immediate action to reduce climate risk. This report summarizes findings of an independent assessment of the impact of climate change at the county, state, and regional level, and shows that communities, industries, and properties across the U.S. face profound risks from climate change. The findings also show that the most severe risks can still be avoided through early investments in resilience, and through immediate action to reduce the pollution that causes global warming. The Risky Business report shows that two of the primary impacts of climate change -- extreme heat and sea level rise -- will disproportionately affect certain regions of the U.S., and pose highly variable risks across the nation. In the U.S. Gulf Coast, Northeast, and Southeast, for example, sea level rise and increased damage from storm surge are likely to lead to an additional $2 to $3.5 billion in property losses each year by 2030, with escalating costs in future decades. In interior states in the Midwest and Southwest, extreme heat will threaten human health, reduce labor productivity and strain electricity grids. Conversely in northern latitudes such as North Dakota and Montana, winter temperatures will likely rise, reducing frost events and cold-related deaths, and lengthening the growing season for some crops. The report is a product of The Risky Business Project a joint, non-partisan initiative of former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Mayor of New York City from 2002-2013 Michael R. Bloomberg, and Thomas P. Steyer, former Senior Managing Member of Farallon Capital Management. They were joined by members of a high-level "Risk Committee" who helped scope the research and reviewed the research findings.

Political Economy Analysis of the Teesta River Basin

March 1, 2013

In May 2012, with support from the Skoll Global Threats Fund, The Asia Foundation (TAF), in partnership with civil society organizations in India and Bangladesh, began a political economy analysis of the Teesta River Basin. The Teesta River originates in the northeast Indian state of Sikkim and flows through the state of West Bengal before entering Bangladesh. The river has long been a bone of contention between co riparians India and Bangladesh. Both countries have extensive plans to utilize the river for hydropower generation and irrigation, and consequently the availability of water, particularly in the dry or lean season, has been at the crux of the longstanding dispute between the two neighbors. To try and unpack the interests around water governance in the Teesta Basin, the analysis sought to identify and map key actors and stakeholders in the basin, their incentives, their relative stakes, and their ability to influence water governance decisions in the basin. Based on fieldwork on either side of the India Bangladesh border, the analysis sought to identify the drivers of change for reforming state centered approaches to water governance in the Teesta Basin, and to provide recommendations to inform future actions of the governments of India and Bangladesh, civil society actors in both countries, and donors.

Aqueduct Metadata Document, Aqueduct Global Maps 2.0

January 1, 2013

This document describes the specific characteristics of the indicator data and calculations for the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas Global Maps. Complete guidelines and processes for data collection, calculations, and mapping techniques are described fully in the Aqueduct Water Risk Framework. The Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas makes use of a Water Risk Framework, that includes 12 global indicators grouped into three categories of risk and one overall score.

Threats Without Threateners? Exploring Intersections of Threats to the Global Commons and National Security

January 1, 2012

This think piece was sponsored by the Skoll Global Threats Fund, whose mission is to "confront global threats imperiling humanity by seeking solutions, strengthening alliances, and spurring the actions needed to safeguard the future." In particular, the Fund focuses on five threats that, if not all fully global, do require multiple parties to participate in addressing them:nuclear proliferation, Middle East conflict, climate change, water scarcity, and pandemics. In contrast to the established significance of nuclear proliferation and Middle East conflict, the relevance of the other three threats to national security remains less examined. To explore whether it might lead to different perspectives in approaching these issues, this paper looks at climate change, water scarcity, and pandemics as global issues with potential public "bads." It also looks into the national security dimensions of these three issues and how they are related—their similarities and differences, and their interconnections—focusing on the commonalities that make them difficult to address. It then reviews what might be called the "usual" approaches to such problems, examining why several have not worked well so far. The implicit conclusion: without some novel approaches, these global threats will persist. The paper then asks the reader to consider some different approaches illustrated through suggestive cases intended to make each type of approach more concrete. This aims to inspire ways of thinking about new policy approaches, not to suggest that they amount to "the solution." Nor does this think piece present a thorough review of what is possible. Rather, the idea is to advance a conversation, ideally one across disciplines and perspectives, to help readers become more creative about the possibilities for action, not only by governments but also by business, civil society, and organizations like the Skoll Global Threats Fund. It is to individuals in such institutions, as well as to other thought leaders and interested citizens, that this paper is addressed. And though we write from a U.S. perspective and are ultimately most concerned with U.S. national security, the threats covered are global or at least regional, so we seek to engage readers beyond U.S. borders.