Skip to main content

wb1215c.jpg

Adapting to Climate Change

According to the conventional wisdom of many environmental campaigners, we should first do everything we can to mitigate global warming, and only then focus on adaptation strategies. But this seems wrong – even immoral – if we could do more for people and the planet through adaptation.

COPENHAGEN – Striking the right balance between preventing global warming and adapting to its effects is one of the most important – and most vexing – policy questions of our age. It is also often ignored.

According to the conventional wisdom of many environmental campaigners, we should first do everything we can to mitigate global warming, and only then focus on adaptation strategies. This seems wrong – even immoral – if we could do more for people and the planet through adaptation.

Moreover, it is inconsistent with the inescapable fact that, whatever we do, we cannot prevent all of global warming’s effects. If we are ill-prepared, global warming will cause more deaths and devastation, especially in poor countries and fragile societies. Adaptation would also mean saving many lives from catastrophes not related to global warming. If we prepare societies for more ferocious hurricanes in the future, for example, we are also helping them to cope better with today’s extreme weather.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/SSu9qwr;
  1. drew47_Drew AngererGetty Images_trumpgiulianasmiling Drew Angerer/Getty Images

    Will Trump Be Removed from Office?

    Elizabeth Drew

    Assuming the US House of Representatives votes to impeach President Donald Trump, the fact remains that there are far fewer votes in the Senate than will be needed to convict him and remove him from office. But the willingness of Congress – including the Senate – to continue tolerating his dangerous conduct is now truly in question.

    0
  2. rudd9_Darrian TraynorGetty Images_climateprotestburningaustralia Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

    Unsustainable Australia

    Kevin Rudd

    Before the current conservative government came to power in 2013, Australia was well-positioned to make the necessary transition to a low-carbon economy. But now, the country is heading in reverse, and has already fallen behind most developed countries, and even China, on reducing emissions and building resilience against climate change.

    1

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions