Adapt to climate change?

There are two main ways of dealing with climate change:

1) “Mitigation” – reducing climate change directly. This involves reducing emission of greenhouse gases, and increasing removal of them from the atmosphere [1].

2) “Adaptation” – adapting to life in a changing climate. This is about minimising the harm caused by climate change [1].

Both of these are definitely needed [3]! However, many scientists say that there has been too little focus on adaptation compared to mitigation [2,6,7]. We cannot just look past the fact that we are already facing negative effects of climate change, and that these will get worse in the future [3]. Because CO2 stays in the atmosphere for many years [4] just reducing emissions won’t cut it; the negative effects of CO2 that we already emitted will continue for many decades [2].

Adaptation can be more beneficial than mitigation in the short term [2]. Let’s take the example of climate change making hurricanes more severe [2]. Buildings that are robust enough to survive hurricanes would reduce damage 10-25 times more than ambitious cuts in greenhouse gas emissions [2]. We need to adapt in many areas: agriculture, forestry, water management, healthcare, city planning, transport, tourism, and more [5].

Over the next few posts we will explore different ways of adapting to climate change.

References

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