Welcome to NMAP

Climate Debate Imbalance

The new HBO comedy show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver recently made a mockery of media false balance in its climate science coverage. Oliver was interviewed on the science podcast Inquiring Minds last week, and host Chris Mooney voiced my feelings exactly:

"I feel like they said in 4 minutes something I've been saying for 10 years with like tens or hundreds of thousands of words; what they said was that there's no debate over global warming, so to have these 'balanced' 1-on-1 TV debates is just preposterous."

Citing the 97% expert consensus result from a paper my colleagues and I published last year, John Oliver illustrated what a statistically representative climate change debate would look like, to great comic effect. (from the Guardian)

Project Announcements

NEW: Results of the NMAP Survey of Canadian Local Governments are now available. Click here to see the fact sheets.

Research of note

A recent report "Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability; April 2014", by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes that ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are .under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and many fish and other creatures are migrating toward the poles, or in some cases going extinct.

Some of the most extreme predictions of global warming are unlikely to materialize, new scientific research published in Nature Geoscience has suggested, but the world is still likely to be in for a temperature rise of double that regarded as safe. That would still lead to catastrophe across large swaths of the Earth. Click here to see the Guardian article.

The MC3 project has published a set of best practice case studies in community and local government actions for climate change.Click here to visit the MC3 website.

CO2 emissions rises mean dangerous climate change now almost certain.
Research by the Global Carbon Project says emissions growth placing world on path to warm between 4 and 6C.

Our Work 

Climate change has become the chief global environmental issue. The climate change discussion has grown from accepting the science and thinking about attenuation to acknowledging that we now have to adapt and plan for environmental change. We need to adapt to new and changing conditions.

The adaptation imperative requires new and novel approaches to planning and infrastructure development and it requires leadership and innovation in governance. Local governments are often most responsible for infrastructure and land use planning and will play a central role in shaping the response to adaptation.

In Canada leadership on adaptation issues is increasingly coming from local governments.

There is a growing acknowledgement that adaptation and resiliency strategies developed and implemented at the local level are essential for supporting sustainable infrastructure, adaptive land use planning, and the continued provision of the broad range of services that local governments supply.

Canadian local governments are on the frontline of the adaptation and resiliency imperative, but are they planning for change? There is a need for research that not only provides an image of what local governments are doing, but also identifies requirements, options and planning strategies. NMAP works to help address these gaps.

The need is for research that not only provides an image of the present situation, but also identifies the requirements of local governments, planning options and policy strategies. The National Municipal Adaptation Project works to develop research that does this.

The need for planning

Our view of planning is comprehensive – we see it as the core activity in local decision-making about how to best provide and support the physical systems that support community economic, social and environmental public services. We also see it as a strategic activity that is ideally inclusive, proactive and interdisciplinary.

NMAP is working to assess the state of planning for adaptation and resiliency in Canadian local governments, develop case studies, and generate applied knowledge for advancing community adaptation planning. In Canada there are a range of organizations and government agencies that are addressing different aspects of adaptation and developing examples and guidelines. Our approach is to develop a comprehensive image of the state of planning and the needs of local governments.

Learning about climate change

The New York Times has posted a series of articles about climate change. The series, titled 'Temperature Rising', may be accessed by clicking here.


Featured Videos

The rapid transition from a society of individual fishermen and hunters to an economy supported by corporate mining raises difficult questions. How would Greenland’s insular settlements tolerate an influx of thousands of Polish or Chinese construction workers, as has been proposed? Will mining despoil a natural environment essential to Greenland’s national identity — the whales and seals, the silent icy fjords, and mythic polar bears? Can fishermen reinvent themselves as miners? Click here to see the slide presentation from the New York Times.

From the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 to this June's conference, how has the UN summit process evolved? Sustainability pioneers reflect on the shift of focus from the environment to sustainable development and discuss how business has become an essential element. Click here to see the video, posted on the Guardian website

Canada has withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol. The Canadian environment minister said that Kyoto did not represent the way forward for Canada. Canada, Japan and Russia have said they would not accept new Kyoto commitments. Click here to see the video, posted on the Guardian website

UN climate talks ended with an agreement to work towards a legally enforceable deal, covering all countries, to take effect by 2020. Management of a fund for climate aid to poor countries has also been agreed, though how to raise the money has not. Click here to see the video, posted on the BBC website

Researchers in Chile have released time-lapse footage of the dramatic retreat of a glacier in Patagonia. The footage, which shows a yearly cycle of the Jorge Montt Glacier, demonstrates that the glacier is melting - at a rate the scientists say is faster than any other in Chile.  Click here to see the video, posted on the BBC website.

Image above: Many parts of the Vancouver are region are at risk for flooding. A key adaptation planning need for many Canadian communities is the development of 'adaptation infrastructure' and resiliency plans for higher water, and more frequent high water events.



Adaptation News 2014

NEW: Are Canadian local governments ready for the impacts of climate change? It is is an image of a nation unprepared. The results of the NMAP Survey of Canadian Local Governments has been released. Click here to see the Canada fact sheet.


The collapse of large parts of the ice sheet in West Antarctica appears to have begun and is almost certainly unstoppable, with global warming accelerating the pace of the disintegration, two groups of scientists have reported.  The finding, which had been feared by some scientists for decades, means that a rise in global sea level of at least 10 feet may now be inevitable. The rise may continue to be relatively slow for at least the next century or so, the scientists said, but sometime after that it will probably speed up so sharply as to become a crisis.

“This is really happening,” said Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA’s programs on polar ice and helped oversee some of the research. “There’s nothing to stop it now. But you are still limited by the physics of how fast the ice can flow.” From the NYT.

Arguments that the climate is relatively insensitive to the increased greenhouse effect have become the last best chance for climate change contrarians, but a new study from Texas A&M University hammers a big nail in the coffin of that argument. From the Guardian.


Unilever, Shell, BT, and EDF Energy are among 70 leading companies calling on governments across the globe to step up efforts to tackle climate change. The companies, which have a combined turnover of $90bn, say the world needs a "rapid and focused response" to the threat of rising global carbon emissions and the "disruptive climate impacts" associated with their growth. From the Guardian.

A United Nations IPCC report warns that climate change is already having sweeping effects on every continent and is likely to grow substantially worse unless greenhouse emissions are brought under control. From the NYT.


The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society, has released a stark report Tuesday on climate change. The report warns that the effects of human emissions of heat-trapping gases are already being felt, that the ultimate consequences could be dire, and that the window to do something about it is closing. From the NYT.

U.S. federal officials are proposing sweeping new requirements for American health care facilities — from large hospitals to small group homes for the mentally disabled — intended to ensure their readiness to care for patients during disasters. From the NYT.

Efforts to tackle climate change must urgently focus on implementing low carbon technologies such as wind and solar power rather than discussions of the science and quarrels over policy, the former United Nations climate chief has said. From the Guardian.


US President Obama’s annual budget request to Congress will propose a significant change in how the government pays to fight wildfires, administration officials said, a move that they say reflects the ways in which climate change is increasing the risk for and cost of those fires. From the NYT.


The Jakobshavn Glacier - widely thought to have spawned the iceberg that sank the Titanic - is moving about four times faster than it was in the 1990s. The Greenland Ice Sheet has seen record melting in recent years and would raise sea levels 6m were it all to vanish. Details of the research are published in The Cryosphere journal. From the BBC.

With no sign of rain, 17 rural communities providing water to 40,000 people are in danger of running out within 60 to 120 days. California state officials said that the number was likely to rise in the months ahead after the State Water Project, the main municipal water distribution system, announced on Friday that it did not have enough water to supplement the dwindling supplies of local agencies that provide water to an additional 25 million people. From the NYT.

Climate change and the impacts on business. After a decade of increasing damage to Coca-Cola's balance sheet as global droughts dried up the water needed to produce its soda, the company has embraced the idea of climate change as an economically disruptive force. Coke reflects a growing view among American business leaders and mainstream economists who see global warming as a force that contributes to lower gross domestic products, higher food and commodity costs, broken supply chains and increased financial risk. Their position is at striking odds with the longstanding argument, advanced by the coal industry and others, that policies to curb carbon emissions are more economically harmful than the impact of climate change. From the NYT.

Drought conditions in the US Far West intensified last year, government scientists said Wednesday, adding to concerns about water supplies in the region. From the NYT.

The spate of severe weather disruptions across Canada over the past year caused insurers to pay out a record $3.2 billion in claims, the industry says. The ice storm that hit southern Ontario and then Eastern Canada caused $200 million worth of insured losses, bringing the total to $3.2 billion for all of 2013. That's the highest level the insurance industry has ever seen. From the CBC.

Scientists point to unmistakable evidence that global sea levels are rising and could increase as much as three feet by end of century, particularly if greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked; rising tides pose enormous risk for United States, particularly along East Coast, where much of population and economy is concentrated. From the NYT.

Climate scientist tells US Senate that climate change is a 'clear and present danger. In a Senate hearing on President Obama's Climate Action Plan, Andrew Dessler (Texas A&M University)  summarised the science behind the climate threat before the Senate committee hearings about the proposed climate action plan. From the Guardian.

The UK's run of rain-drenched summers could be ended by a slow-down in major Atlantic currents which bring warm, wet air to Europe, according to research. The currents were known to have weakened since 2004 but the new work suggests the trend began in the 1990s and shows no sign of ending. From the Guardian.

Severe drought in California leads to emergency declaration. From the NYT.

From 2013


One year before flooding devastated Calgary, officials were given a study that warned the next big flood to hit the city would bring higher water levels and more widespread damage than was previously thought, From the CBC.


Polar bear population may collapse in less than 20 years. Climate change is thinning sea ice, cutting off the dwindling population of polar bears from their food source. Scientists predict that with ice-free season lengthening every year in west Hudson Bay, its polar bear population will collapse in 17 years. From the Guardian.

Most of the world's coal reserves should be left in the ground to avoid catastrophic global warming, the UN's climate chief has said. In a speech to a gathering of industry executives, Christina Figueres challenged the industry to urgently transform itself, diversify into renewable energy and "radically change … rapidly and dramatically for everyone's sake". From the Guardian.

Developing nations have launched an impassioned attack on the failure of the world's richest countries to live up to their climate change pledges in the wake of the disaster in the Philippines. From the Guardian.

Atmospheric volumes of greenhouse gases blamed for climate change hit a new record in 2012, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said on Wednesday.

"For all these major greenhouse gases the concentrations are reaching once again record levels," WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud told a news conference in Geneva at which he presented the U.N. climate agency's annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. From the CBC.

Many of the ills of the modern world — starvation, poverty, flooding, heat waves, droughts, war and disease — are likely to worsen as the world warms from man-made climate change, a leaked draft of an international scientific report forecasts. From the CBC.


Insurance executives say homeowners will never have access to comprehensive flood insurance in Canada unless there are new maps of flood-prone areas that take climate change into account. From the CBC.

The fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is due out on September 27th, and is expected to reaffirm with growing confidence that humans are driving global warming and climate change. In anticipation of the widespread news coverage of this esteemed report, climate contrarians appear to be in damage control mode, trying to build up skeptical spin in media climate stories. Just in the past week we've seen:  From the Guardian.

The scientists' statement is unequivocal, and is not based on whatever the IPCC may publish. They say: "The body of evidence indicating that our civilisation has already caused significant global warming is overwhelming."

The statement comes from 12 members of the recently established Earth League, which describes itself as "a voluntary alliance of leading scientists and institutions dealing with planetary processes and sustainability issues". From the Guardian.


Sea levels could rise by 2.3 metres for each degree Celsius that global temperatures increase and they will remain high for centuries to come, according to a new study by the leading climate research institute, released on Monday. From the Guardian.

While no single wildfire can be pinned solely on climate change, researchers say there are signs that fires are becoming bigger and more common in an increasingly hot and extremely dry West. From the CBC.

There is evidence that western fire seasons are getting longer and more destructive, and that this is tied to more extreme heat and drought. But does the same dynamic make the act of wildland firefighting riskier? There are reasons to suspect that it does. From the Guardian.

The World Meteorological Organization says the planet "experienced unprecedented high-impact climate extremes" in the ten years from 2001 to 2010, the warmest decade since the start of modern measurements in 1850. From the Guardian.

NMAP Links Policy

We select links that are relevant to adaptation planning and related climate change or local government planning activities. We do not link to external sites in return for remuneration or any other consideration in kind. We link to sites based on content merit.

These are free to access, but users may sometimes be asked to register or subscribe before viewing some content.Some sites may require registration and a fee after viewing a certain number of articles. External links on this page are selected and reviewed when the page is published. We do not produce them or maintain them. We do not necessarily endorse services. views or information they provide

Service Statement

NMAP is a university-based research group. NMAP does not provide consulting or other services, nor is it an advocacy organisation. All data and results that NMAP develops are provided on request or are available through this website.