The deadly flooding, heat waves, wildfires, droughts, tornados, and other extreme weather events of 2021 have underscored the real life current threats that we now face due to climate change. The denial, resistance, and obstructionism from the fossil fuel industry and politicians in taking climate action have dramatically increased our risk of extreme climate disasters.
Because there’s so much carbon in the atmosphere, we have committed ourselves to a warming climate. Even if we miraculously managed to stop putting CO2 into the atmosphere tomorrow, continued warming and extreme weather are a certainty due to what’s already ‘baked in’ since carbon hangs around in the climate system.
Weather disasters have already become five times more common in the last 50 years. Climate change has also made weather disasters more severe. We’ve moved past the ability to focus only on mitigating and curbing carbon emissions. We also need to amplify and accelerate efforts on climate adaptation. Making climate adaptation a priority is long overdue (though not at the expense of amplifying mitigation efforts).
“Climate adaptation is the sad reality of our time. For no matter how many wildfires, heat waves, or droughts we suffer through, no matter how many hurricanes or floods we endure, our political and corporate leaders still have not caught on to the stark reality that the institutions they lead need to drastically reduce carbon emissions. Their failure to act means they’ve turned their backs on climate mitigation and forced us into more extreme climate adaptation.” — Larry Yu
What is Climate Adaptation
To date, most of the energy on climate action has focused on climate mitigation. The aim of climate mitigation is to curb the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere thereby limiting the amount of additional atmospheric warming. Mitigation is accomplished by reducing emissions and capturing and removing carbon from the atmosphere.
The aim of climate adaptation however is to prepare us for the inevitable impacts of climate change — not just in the future, but now. The…