A letter from the good Dutch Richard in the Economist explains things break, and cannot be put back together. Adaptation from a disaster is not guaranteed (emphasis added)
SIR – “In the balance” (April 5th) presented a false dichotomy between being dispassionate and being alarmist about the impacts of climate change. There is nothing alarmist about the risk of extreme weather events leading to breakdowns in critical services and food systems. Such breakdowns have already accompanied, for example, the 2011 floods in Thailand and the 2010 drought in Russia. And there is nothing dispassionate about economic damage estimates that, in the words of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, are “incomplete” and face “recognised limitations”.
Rather than suggesting that the risks assessed by the IPCC are scare stories and that the overall economic costs of climate change would be manageable, The Economist could explore the assumptions used by economic models and their developers to arrive at such estimates.As J. Willard Rabett incessantly points out, adaptation pushes procrastination penalties to infinity
One assumption is that the occurrence of impacts will automatically lead to adaptation to those impacts. The IPCC chapter, “Adaptation opportunities, constraints and limits”, shows that such optimism is not justified. Not every farmer facing crop losses has the ability to choose a different crop variety, and not all urban dwellers can move to an area where they are not exposed to floods or landslides.
The world is facing impacts of climate change precisely because it is difficult to take effective action to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. To assume that adaptation to these impacts will take place with little extra effort, at low or no cost and with immediate pay-off, is quite silly, and not a reflection of reality.
Stockholm Environment Institute