Sign Language Interpreting and Emergency Management

Outrage in the Deaf community over the ridicule of American Sign Language.

Language for the Eyes

It has only taken decades of advocacy and complaints to the FCC, FEMA, and State governments for public officials to respond to Deaf Americans who rely on sign language for communication.

DeafNation, emphasizing language, culture and pride, expresses “dismay and concern” to Chelsea Handler.

The outburst of public response to professional simultaneous interpretation of a signed language during Hurricane Sandy reveals an astonishing range of exoticism, prejudice, and basic ignorance of a vibrant linguistic culture flourishing despite generations of institutionalized discrimination.

The robust capacity of American Sign Language to communicate in the dimension of sight has apparently blown the minds of sound-centric “hearing people.” None of the media coverage of the emergency interpreting by Lydia Callis gets all of the details right. Most of the mainstream discourse focuses on Ms Callis’ diction, minimizing the essential purpose of emergency access to communication through simultaneous interpretation. This is why the Deaf community is furious. Seth Gerlis explains in a special report from i Deaf News: “Access to communication during an emergency is very important to the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing community.” A petition demanding an apology for an offensive skit by Late Show comedian Chelsea Handler explains, “We are thankful to have her to interpret for us.”

Professional sign language interpreters are also offended. Bill Moody explains:

We don’t want to be stars; we just want Deaf people to know what is going on! But [Lydia Callis] should have had a partner to help her when she got tired, help her with local place names, and show that interpreters work in teams. I do not appreciate the parodies of her interpreting work which have proliferated around the internet. They are meant to be in good fun, but they indicate the kind of bias against a language which uses facial expressions and body movement as a part of its grammar. Our work as interpreters is not funny. It is serious business. Yes, of course, we like to laugh at ourselves and at life, but sign language itself should not be the brunt of jokes.

Insider vs Outsider Humor

I appreciate Bill’s point that sign language itself should not be the object of ridicule, and the Deaf community’s reaction is also justified. It would be different if, for instance, deaf children had reliable exposure to adult ASL role models every single school day and deaf adults had consistent provision of simultaneous interpretation when needed to participate as an equal employee in the workplace. On the other hand, becoming the butt of public humor is a powerful indicator of social acceptance. What if the Lydia moment generates a turning point in the provision of simultaneous interpretation and ASL-based education because hearing people realize they do care about the lives and experiences of the Deaf?

In contrast with Chelsea Handler’s outsider humor, another parody offers insight into some of the subtexts of simultaneous interpretation. The resistance of hearing people to actually use interpreting to establish meaningful relationships with Deaf individuals results in a skewed kind of pair bonding between deaf people and interpreters. Unless and until hearing people begin to realize that there is more to communication than words of information, misunderstandings are bound to continue. In an emergency situation, this could result in the loss of life, health, or valuable property. A spoof by Frank Panda, Armando Riesco, and Shirley Rumierk could be understood as  a cultural critique of the misguided fascination of hearing people with the language of ASL rather than to the potential relationship being enacted with deaf people. Ineffective communication is the usual result of such dismissive behavior, despite the outstanding skills and best intentions of professional interpreters.

Emergency Management Interpreting

Officials charged with public warnings need to comprehend why English-text captioning, note writing, and the use of volunteers who may have learned some sign language is insufficient:  protecting Deaf Americans during disasters requires embedding emergency management interpreters at all levels of operations.

Callis was great, but not because she was so lively and animated. She was great because she was performing a seriously difficult mental task—simultaneously listening and translating on the spot—in a high-pressure, high-stakes situation. Sure, she was expressive, but that’s because she was speaking a visual language. Signers are animated not because they are bubbly and energetic, but because sign language uses face and body movements as part of its grammar.

It is gratifying to see some governors and television stations finally get public warning communication right by hiring professional interpreters and keeping the interpreter onscreen so the Deaf audience can benefit from the emergency communication access to information. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and Governor Deval Patrick did Mayor Bloomberg one better by hiring a Certified Deaf Interpreter to generate a localized interpretation (something Ms Callis was unable to do, working alone and being relatively new to the New York City scene). A recent Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training at Gallaudet University demonstrated how crucial it is in a crisis to use local interpreters who are familiar with the place-specific terminology and references. One of the CERT instructors, Chief John Sollers, told the group how important the experience had been for him, explaining that he had learned a lot and, in particular, emphasizing that using interpreters for emergency communication between First Responders with Deaf people should be a part of routine training: “We  need to practice how we’ll play.”

Providing effective public warnings is the first, most obvious stage of integrating sign language interpreters into the infrastructure of emergency management. The next stage involves recognizing and treating professional sign language interpreters as peers within the community of first responders. Angela Kaufman (ADA Coordinator, City of Los Angeles Department on Disability) and Rick Pope (GEMINI Project) proposed the establishment of sign language interpreter strike teams at FEMA’s Getting Real II: Promising Practices in Inclusive Emergency Management for the Whole Community in 2011.

Moving Forward into an Era of Climate Healing

NBC’s Brian Williams talked with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Williams suggested that a vast public works project was needed and asked, “Is New York the New Amsterdam?” Cuomo did not disagree. He answered, “As I said kiddingly the other day, we having a 100-year-flood every two years now…we have not seen a problem like this, a flood like this, in our generation. It’s a new reality for us and it’s one we are going to have to deal with.

All of these problems are interrelated. We need an ingenious strategy that insists upon linking social justice with the economic infrastructure. Weather has always served a unifying purpose for Americans – it has given us a safe topic upon which to find common ground despite every imaginable kind of social, cultural, and religions difference. Emergency response costs have skyrocketed over the last five years. The rate and severity of natural disasters is absolutely unprecedented. The vulnerability of disenfranchised and minority populations is no longer the only risk to the stability of our society. By making the commitment and dedicating ourselves to extending the reach of emergency preparedness and response to everyone, entirely new career fields can be created – putting Americans back to work and reinvigorating the economy. This is necessary in order to usher in a new equality along with taking up responsibility for minimizing – and eventually reversing – the effects of global warming.

Composting Steph

I sucker guests who come to a Solstice or Equinox dinner into making a pledge: “What I will do for the planet this season.” This year I’ll begin supporting the Luna Ring

When the time comes, I will recycle Steph.
She will become a lovely basket
for African violets.

(Fall Equinox, 2010)

Play along?

Winter Solstice Sunrise over the UMass Sunwheel
Winter Solstice Sunrise over the UMass Sunwheel

When the time comes, I will recycle Steph.
She will become a lovely basket
for African violets.

(Fall Equinox, 2010)

Background

I sucker guests who come to a Solstice or Equinox dinner into pledging to do something for climate recovery: “What I will do for the planet this season.”

Their ideas range from the mundane (and highly practical) to the outrageous (contributing to the maintenance of fellowship over time).

My pledge this year is to support the Luna Ring.

Selected Other Pledges

Astronomy lessons for every season
Astronomy lessons for every season
Here’s a sampling of what some people have pledged:

“My aim is to respect food and waste less of it in the next 3 months.” (Spring Equinox, 2010)


“I’m gonna take the bus more often and use my car only when it’s needed.” (Fall Equinox, 2010)


“This 2011AD, I will live 5 minutes from an organic market (and I think organic farm as well), and I will 1) volunteer, 2) organize to improve the recycling system in the neighborhood (the next neighborhood over is seen as a ‘problem’ area & receives less city support).” (Winter Solstice, 2010)


“Environmental goal: recycle Steph and re-create her into [deleted]’s star student. Lacking that, I will save [cat] poop and mix it up with gluten-free dough. And then give it to that star student.” (Spring Equinox, 2011)

A Massive Leap of Imagination: Beyond Coal

If we had not argued so vigorously, I would not have thought so much about the potentials of pursuing this conversation…to set the planet on the path to climate recovery requires unprecedented cooperation across borders and among peoples. My friends’ critique was targeted at U.S. unilateralism. Is Beyond Coal simply a(nother) movement by the (mainly white) middle-class so we can feel good about ourselves without giving regard to the consequences of our good deeds upon others? (Disclosure: I am white and middle-class.)

“We need

an unprecedented outpouring of human generosity,

a massive leap of imagination,

a kind of creativity that the world has never seen.”

beyond coal

Drew Grande, the State Coordinator for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Massachusetts, had some trouble fielding my question. He was saved by Mark Kresowic, the Northeast Regional Director, whose answer – while not completely satisfactory – at least suggests there is thought and movement concerning the international workforce implications of the US eliminating our use of coal by 2030.

Their talk at the UMass Labor Center was more of a mini-rally, aimed at the people who are already on board. Most of the questions and comments covered familiar ground: the organization has a mission and a proven strategy for success. In fact, the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign is already documented in the academic literature – an amazing feat given customary scholarly drag. My question stemmed from an important critique arising from a presentation of that article by its author Professor Robert Cox, a communication scholar who celebrates the Beyond Coal campaign as an exemplar of environmental activism.

Climate Recovery: Managing the Forest and the Trees

The problem of global warming and the urgency of infrastructural change are both real. Carbon emissions from the US must be reduced by 80% by 2050. To achieve this all coal-powered energy production in the US needs to be stopped by 2030. What the Sierra Club has accomplished is a trend that makes this incredible shift in the energy economy possible. The job is not finished yet; we are all truly needed to demonstrate the hard economic fact:

Coal cannot compete with clean energy sources without

  • federal subsidies – our tax dollars! and
  • non-enforcement of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

Increasing public pressure will build enough momentum for the domestic transition away from coal. This is good and necessary: it must be done!  However, to set the planet on the path to climate recovery requires unprecedented cooperation across borders and among peoples. My friends’ critique was targeted at U.S. unilateralism.  Is Beyond Coal simply a(nother) movement by the (mainly white) middle-class so we can feel good about ourselves without giving regard to the consequences of our good deeds upon others?  (Disclosure: I am white and middle-class.)

Ninety percent of the coal burned in Massachuseetts’ three coal plants is imported from Colombia. These plants employ workers in MA and run because of the labor of Colombian miners (and shippers and other workers along the procurement, production and distribution chain). Of course their working conditions are appalling and they are underpaid.  I am not saying we should keep coal because of the livelihood these jobs afford to real human beings and their families. However, climate recovery is not going to be achieved if we do not also, simultaneously, create new ways for these workers and others like them to live in health and security.

Opening Ceremony
Communication for Sustainable Social Change
UMass Amherst
10 September 2009

Communication for Sustainable Social Change

Two years ago, Professor Cox delivered the inaugural lecture at the opening of a new Center of Excellence within the School of Behavioral and Social Science at UMass Amherst called Communication for Sustainable Social Change.  The following comments reflect two sources of critique that I participated in at the time: one involves the narrow audience drawn by the Center’s Opening Event and the second involves the content and style of Cox’s theoretical analysis.

Cox contrasted two different campaigns, a massive nationally-coordinated protest event called Step It Up (designed by environmental activist Bill McKibben and his students), and the Sierra Club’s ongoing lobbying effort, Beyond Coal. In a nutshell, Cox argues that Step It Up failed to generate meaningful change due to magical thinking, whereas Beyond Coal is having success because they are finding the means to exercise strategic leverage, rather than investing all hope in tactics. In short, Cox argued that an exclusive reliance on tactics is non-adaptive at levels of scale and time. Cox compared these two public will campaigns through a popular theoretical frame in order to criticize “our ways of talking about change in the Academy.”

Calibrating Theory and Time

Professor Cox’s presentation, “Communicating Social Change: Challenges of Scale and the Strategic,” presents a challenge to environmental activists and academics about the ways we use theories of communication to stimulate and intervene in processes of social change, particularly regarding the need for climate recovery. I was enthralled by Cox’s application of de Certeau’s distinction between tactics and strategy. Cox deploys de Certeau’s, “practice of everyday life”  to teach activists how to think about mobilizing the civilian populace to push government and business for real, deep, significant restructuring of the energy grid.

During the Q&A after his talk, most questions came from people with direct involvement regarding environmental activism. Theoretical questions were less common, such as the one my Chair wanted to ask, about the importance of place (literal, physical location). Cox had mentioned the need for a movement to create a space from which to exert leverage, but this question about “place”  came from another angle. Can theory generated from a basis in one geographic place, with a specific population and particular sociocultural & political conditions, be legitimately transported to another place, where the population and conditions are different?

If we had not argued so vigorously, I would not have thought so much about the potentials of pursuing this conversation. Other colleagues were critical of Cox’ move to generalize de Certeau’s theoretical explanation of a situated context bound by specific parameters to a generalized application that implies a form of universality across human experience. By choosing de Certeau’s frame, Cox is calibrating social activism with the emergent phenomena of transmedia storytelling. Transmedia storytelling is made possible by digital communication technologies and enables practices of collective intelligence. de Certeau argues that “in the activity of re-use lies an abundance of opportunities for ordinary people to subvert the rituals and representations that institutions seek to impose upon them.”

My friends heard Cox reifying the power hierarchy between the powerful and the weak by valorizing “strategy” as a force firmly in the hands of the powerful, with an accompanying diminishment of power in the potential of “tactics” which are “the only thing” some people have. While I agree that poor and disenfranchised people(s) have less access and resources to generate strategy, I disagree that this lack necessitates an absence of power. The uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt demonstrate that tactics can accumulate into unstoppable force. In “History: Science and Fiction,” de Certeau writes of a “dogmatizing tendency” that he calls “‘the institution of the real.’ It consists,” he explains, “of the construction of representations into laws imposed by what is supposed to be the expression of reality” (p. 200, Social Science as Moral Inquiry, 1983).

Choosing “Realities”

Without getting too deep into theoretical nuances, de Certeau describes an “obscure center around which revolve a number of considerations” that combine into “historiography…as something of a mix of science and fiction or as a field of knowledge where questions of time and tense regain a central importance” (emphasis added, p. 203).

In other words, understandings change. Histories are re-written. While those of us alive today (participating and even trying to influence history) are limited by range of perception and and scope of awareness, we can know that relationships exist between what we do now (or fail to do) and what can come to be (or not) in the future. Cox asserts de Certeau’s challenge not to lose touch with ethics:

“It is therefore necessary today to ‘repoliticize’ the sciences, that is to focus their technical apparatus on the fields of force within which they operate and produce their discourse.” (p. 215)

Interconnecting Forests

Cox’s move with de Certeau’s theory is to politicize academics who are all too comfortable sticking within our own trees, even to the point of residing fully along a single thin branch. However, there are serious problems with Cox’s move if it motivates middle-class activists in America to engage in social change campaigns without regard for destroying established labor pools in developing countries.

If coal production for energy is halted, what of the coal worker whose single livelihood feeds dozens?  What is needed is a broader-based effort to win the alliance of coal workers around the world: what industry will be created to replace the one they’ll lose? This is the kind of resiliency-based thinking that our times and the challenges of climate recovery demand: not essentializing one-level solutions focused exclusively on selfish fear, greed, or the desire to retain comfort (motivating or even reasonable as these may be). What industry, indeed? One friend asserted,

“We need

an unprecedented outpouring of human generosity,

a massive leap of imagination,

a kind of creativity that the world has never seen.”

Resilient Creativity

Communication technology may or may not save us. It depends upon how we decide to use it.

I was disappointed at the  Center’s Opening because of a lack of diversity in the audience: it seemed to represent no particular break with contemporary hyper-specialization and narrow discipline-based segregation. It is exciting, now, to see how much the network is growing.

During his introductory remarks to Professor Cox’s talk, UMass Chancellor Holub cast back in UMass’s landgrant history to The Agitation Committee, a group that worked to broaden the University’s original agricultural focus to include larger social concerns. The latent potential of the CSSC to serve as a hub of intellectual activity for generating public will exists, but conversations must be engaged across the institutional complex of differing ideologies and disciplinary knowledges. UMass has a unique mix of traditional, radical and intellectual competence which endows it with an amazing potential to lead in designing and facilitating the implementation of solutions to today’s wicked problems.

Cultivating Public Will

In his introductory remarks, UMass Dean Mullin said he would have loved to have been present when the Center’s name was chosen, noting that each term is “value-laden.” My position is that the most important word is the preposition: Communication for Sustainable Social Change.

Let’s do it.

If you are not yet convinced of the seriousness or the urgency of climate recovery, try this sixty second video on the evolution of life by Claire L. Evans. She describes it as “a video experiment in scale, condensing 4.6 billion years of history into a minute.” Then watch Home by Yann Arthus-Bertrand (sixty minutes you will not regret).

According to the science in Arthus-Bertrand’s film, human institutions have less than ten years to make the deep and substantive changes that are necessary if we are to keep the earth’s atmosphere within the known parameters for supporting life. Watch Evan’s one-minute video, and you should get a feel for the requisite response time. As in now. Research about social change is not adequate – by itself – to accomplish all we need to gain.

Life in the Boundary Layer

Dr. Ambarish Karmalkar was careful not to be alarmist as he reported findings on experiments forecasting regional climate changes in Costa Rica and its neighbors. Dr. Karmalkar explains: “The frequency of temperatures in the future is something we have not experienced in the modern period.” In the case of Central America in general, and Costa Rica in particular, he was referring to a probable future increase in the average temperature of 3-4 degrees Celsius (roughly 5-7 degrees Fahrenheit) before the end of this century.

Geosciences (Climatology)
159 Morrill South, UMass
Amherst

“I just want to congratulate Ambarish on a very nice thesis; I enjoyed reading it.”

~ Dissertation Committee Member Dr. Henry Diaz

I enjoyed the extremely detailed presentation too, but I must confess that chills ran up and down my spine on a few occasions. Dr. Ambarish Karmalkar was careful not to be alarmist as he reported findings on experiments forecasting regional climate changes in Costa Rica and its neighbors. Dr. Karmalkar explains: “The frequency of temperatures in the future is something we have not experienced in the modern period.” In the case of Central America in general, and Costa Rica in particular, he was referring to a probable future increase in the average temperature of 3-4 degrees Celsius (roughly 5-7 degrees Fahrenheit) before the end of this century. If this does not seem like a big deal, compare it to the temperature fluctuation that accompanies El Nino – a mere one degree – and all the weather we (US Americans) blame on that. Then imagine that already species are becoming extinct in the subtropical rain forests. The suddenly extinct (since 1989) Golden Toad, for instance, was once abundant in the Monte Verde Cloud Forest of Costa Rica.

Climate Change Predictions for Central America:

A Regional Climate Model Study

by Ambarish Karmalkar

Specifically, Dr Karmalkar’s dissertation research involved testing the reliability of the general circulation model that is used for regional climate modeling: PRECIS. He chose the region of Central America for a few specific reasons:

  1. more studies on biodiversity and climate change have been done in Costa Rica than anywhere else (so he has lots of material to compare and contrast in terms of results already collected)
  2. there is severe impact from changes in precipitation in the Yucatan (the ‘top’ or northern edge of Central America, dividing it from North America)
  3. Costa Rica meets the criteria for being a biodiversity hotspot: meaning it has a large number of endemic (local/native) plant species , and has “lost at least 70 percent of its original habitat.”

Dr Karmalkar’s paper will be published soon enough, I trust, and will give much more detail to those with deep knowledge about this kind of predictive mapping. For now I can only summarize, from a layperson’s perspective, the major points that I gleaned from his analysis. The PRECIS model works at two levels (atmospheric and on-the-ground) to try and predict the impact of climate changes on the selected global region.

Because PRECIS is measuring a part of the whole (a region of the earth, not the entire planet), it is a limited area model. This means a lot of the work of calculation has to occur at the boundaries – basically, at the edges or sides of the area. This involves figuring out the lateral boundary conditions (air and ground) and also the sea surface boundary conditions (especially its temperature). Dr Karmalkar ran two experiments (each one requiring seven months!) to confirm or deny the validity of PRECIS.  Basically, do its results match up with reality?  First, the baseline test involved validating whether the model could take information from the past and run through its algorithms to turn out a prediction matching what is actually happening now, in the present.  He plugged in 31 years worth of observed data from ongoing measurements made in real time from 1960-1990. Given these values, the PRECIS model successfully generated a ‘prediction’ that accurately described current conditions of temperature and precipitation.

Changes in Seasonal Rainfall a Serious Concern

central america wet and dry regions

I highlight preciptation because I realized that I have been thinking naively about climate change in terms of temperature alone, but it is the combined effect of increasing temperature with changes in amounts of precipitation that is of serious concern. PRECIS simulates surface air temperature correctly, although there was a long discussion about differing warm- and cold-biases of the comparison data sets – CRU and NARR – at low and high elevations. The PRECIS results seem to highlight these biases. Perhaps this information will help designers improve the modeling. Nonetheless, Dr Karmalkar and his advisors agreed, “despite the challenges of a topographically complex region, PRECIS is not doing a bad job simulating temperature.” However, it is the annual cycle of precipitation that most defines the climate of Central America. Historically, there have been two rainy seasons generating peaks of rainfall in June, and again in September-October, with a bit of a dip in-between (July-August).

PRECIS is underestimating the wet season by 40-50%. A higher resolution model will help improve the simulation, and there may be a problem with how the model simulates storms.  There are many interacting variables in this dynamic system, including mean annual sea level pressure, the subtropical high pressure systems (Atlantic and Pacific), low pressure in the eastern Atlantic NASH (North Atlantic Subtropical High) which defines the direction and speed of trade winds that carry the precipitation, effects from the Borealis force, sea surface temperature, and low level circulation of the atmosphere modified by the topography (mountains, valleys and such).

Comparing the Baseline and a Future Scenario

Once the baseline is established as accurate, its trajectory is run out to a point in the future without changing anything.  If things were to continue only along the path that has already been created (nothing added, nothing taken away), then a certain climate can be projected to the end of the 21st century. To actually get at prediction, that extension of the baseline has to be compared with a possible projected future which includes changes we can anticipate (such as percent increase in greenhouse gasses – increasing at a rate of 3% a year since 2000 – more than double the rate in the 1990s).

There is an official Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that created four different possible scenarios. Dr Karmalkar picked the scenario called A2, which comes with an associated “storyline” – the context of human activity that makes the numbers used in the scenario plausible. The A2 storyline is conservative: of the four choices it is the one that seems the most “like” the way our world really is, now:

…a very heterogeneous world with continuously increasing global population and regionally oriented economic growth that is more fragmented and slower than in other storylines.

In this story about our possible future, economic values outweigh environmental values, and regional development is pursued more than global strategies.

“There’s a cockroach.”

It is the difference between the two tests – the baseline and the potential scenario – that generates the actual prediction. The finding shows temperature becoming higher and the distribution narrower: the future “lies well outside the present day” and “that,” says Dr Karmalkar, “is a significant result.” Remember that long discussion about bias?  The results for all regions show a cold bias – which means (if I understood this correctly), that the prediction itself is conservative, i.e., that the reality could well be worse than these particular results predict. Warming in Central America is higher than the global average. Not only this, but the wet and dry seasons in Central America are going to be seriously effected. The model isn’t doing as well with precipitation as it is with temperature, but – even limping – what it suggests is grim.  Basically, amounts of rainfall during the wet season are going to decrease, some areas might even lose one of the rainy seasons entirely. In other areas, perhaps the second wet season will be extended and last longer, enabling a small increase in precipitation, but the overall loss of rainfall over the sea will trigger other effects, shifting pressure systems, decreasing sea level pressure and strengthening trade winds – all of which will decrease precipitation.

Horizontal precipitation

It gets worse.  Dr Karmalkar did not say that. He would not.  He represented the science calmly, engaging an impressive display of slide jujitsu by answering every question posed during the defense with a quick scroll through his hundred (or more) back-up slides, pulling up the exact one to respond with precision to every query.

One of the most important sources of precipitation in Central America comes from clouds. The landscape orographic cloud formationincludes tall mountains that touch the clouds: moisture condenses directly onto the vegetation. (This is where the Golden Toad used to live.) Twenty to 22% of the total annual precipitation in Costa Rica comes from this direct source of moisture. Clouds form as a function of relative humidity, which is a function of temperature and pressure. Can you guess?  The temperature goes up, which draws the ‘ceiling’ of relative humidity up too.  Clouds no longer form at the usual altitude, but higher up.  Bye bye horizontal precipitation.  What killed the Golden Toad?  Possibly a phenomenon called moisture stress.

No Time to Lose

Again, this is my voice, not Dr Karmalkar’s.  When pressed by his committee whether “it is appropriate at this point to press the alarm and get the word out to conservation organizations and such?” Dr Karmalkar responded:

“Yes, we do have enough information to, maybe not press the alarm, but enough to say that something needs to be done…the Golden Toad disappeared in 1989, its population dramatically declined after the El Nino phase of 1986-87. If you look at the temperature anomalies of El Nino, they are only of a degree or so. If one degree of change is effecting the species in the area, then certainly four degrees warming is definitely large.

One of the other important things is that species do adapt to changes in climate. There are cases where plant species have migrated upslope, but that’s constrained by topography. In some cases, I talked of the cloud base heights going up, but another problem is deforestation, which has led to an increase in surface sensitive heat flux. Land surface use alone can drive cloud bases even higher than the highest mountain peak.

We do have information to make the case that climate change of this magnitude might be serious.”