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Who's Talking About Adaptation?

By Keith Kloor
Jun 11, 2009 4:53 PMNov 20, 2019 5:41 AM


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Are we finally having a debate on climate adaptation? Sorta. Maybe. Not If politicians, policymakers and climate advocates were really engaging the thorny issue of adaptation, this story by Bruce Stutz, which appeared late last month on Yale Environment 360, would have circled the globe by now. This quote alone from Columbia University's Wallace Broeker should have lit a fuse:

My view is that we'll be lucky if we can stop CO2 at 600 ppm. There's no way we're going to stop at 450. Impossible. If we're going to double CO2, we'd better prepare what we're going to do about it.

Stutz's excellent piece generated four comments. Not a ripple in the blogosphere. In contrast, a recent interview that Yale Environment 360 conducted with Freeman Dyson has elicited more than 50 comments. People do seem to respond in full to the guy who says you can learn a lot from climate models,

but you cannot learn what's going to happen 10 years from now.

Never mind that more climate advocates are inclined to agree with Broeker's prediction, which means, as Stutz summarizes,

the planet will experience myriad far-reaching changes to which humans, plants and animals will need to adapt: higher sea levels, the melting of glaciers that have long supplied hundreds of millions of people with water, drought-stressed agriculture, more severe storms, spreading disease, and reduced biodiversity.

Maybe the persistence of think tanks will help spur a national discussion. Today, for example, one of them--the Center for a New American Security is releasing a concept paper, entitled, "Natural Security." In the section on climate change it states:

Mitigation can reduce the potential severity of future change, but as some climate change is already underway and proceeding faster than scientists had predicted as recently as the IPCC's Fourth Assessment report in 2007, the nation should consider adopting a comprehensive adaptation strategy that anticipates a range of future scenarios.

Anybody game for that?

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