The Big Question for Climate Change
The effects of Climate Change are complex requiring global, regional and national interventions and cannot be handled by a single ministry or government.
The challenge of confronting the impacts of climate change is often framed in terms of two potential paths that civilization might take: adaptation and mitigation. Mitigation involves reducing the magnitude of climate change itself. Adaptation, by contrast, involves efforts to limit the society’s vulnerability to climate change impacts through various measures, while not necessarily dealing with the underlying cause of those impacts.
The choice between adaptation and mitigation is in fact, in many ways, a false choice…meaning that we will most likely have to do both. As we have witnessed in recent years, we are already committed to additional warming due to the greenhouse gases that we have emitted already. A useful way to look at the level of vulnerability to climate change is considering scenarios that involve no response measures at all i.e., no adaptation or mitigation, adaptation alone, mitigation alone, and a combination of adaptation and mitigation.
As is apparent from the above comparisons, much of the world would likely suffer extreme vulnerability to climate change in the absence of any mitigation efforts at all, regardless of what adaptive measures are taken. Yet mitigation alone, for example limiting CO2 concentrations, would in the absence of any adaptive measures still result in great vulnerability, particularly in tropical and subtropical regions. However, a combination of adaptation and mitigation could reduce vulnerability to modest levels for most of the world.
Recent developments in both the policy arena and the climate impacts research community point to a growing interest in human adaptation to climatic variability and change.
Most often, human responses of one form or another are simply assumed in impacts research. Analyses that address adaptation use a variety of interpretation and perspectives resulting in an incomplete, and at times inconsistent, understanding of human adaptation to environmental variations.
This is the challenge that many developing countries face – it is infarct the challenge of the world as a whole. However, the reality of climate change is such that whichever approach is taken, the climate change phenomena must be addressed. Urgently.