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Grist: Let's talk About Adaptation

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorJanuary 19, 2011 6:31 PM


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Actually, it's David Roberts at Grist, and he recommends that adaptation undergo a linguistic makeover to make it more palatable. More on that in a minute. What's most notable about Roberts' post is that he has had a change of heart on an issue that, based on my own anecdotal experience, will be met with growls from some of the hardcore climate advocates in his community. Here's the admission from Roberts:

Back when I started covering my beat, it was conventional wisdom among greenies that it's best not to talk too much about adapting to climate change. The worry was that it might lure people into a false sense of security, get them thinking there's no need to cut emissions since they can adapt to whatever changes come. I've come to think that this is a deeply counterproductive way of looking at things.

In fact, adaptation may be the most effective way to approach climate change.

Welcome aboard my lonely train, David. Two years ago, I asked:

Would climate change have greater urgency in the public mind if we started talking more about adaptation?

The silence was deafening. (In fairness, the blog was just getting off the ground and my mother didn't feel confident enough to speak on behalf of the climate community.) Since then, I've periodically returned to flog the issue that dare not speak its name, with much the same result. More recently, last month I asked if the climate concerned community was finally ready to have a conversation about adaptation. Based on the heaping scorn vented in the comment thread, I took the answer to be a resounding no. So it's a curious thing to see Roberts change his mind at this point in time--or at least go public with it. Part of me wonders if it's borne out of frustration with the lack of policy and political action. Regardless, Roberts still isn't fond of the term adaption (too "bloodless") and recommends replacing it with....get ready for it: ruggedizing. Yeah, that's an improvement. If you consider incomprehensible better than "bloodless." And it rolls off the tongue nicely, heh? Is this the same guy who coined the clever climate hawk term? Oh well, let's get ready to ruggggggedize.

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