Thursday, September 13, 2007

On adaptation without mitigation

Adaptation is not the only choice. You can die. Your family can die. Your situation can deteriorate to the point it is not worth living (see Somalia, Iraq, dystopia, etc.). Happens frequently to individuals during major changes.

Adaptation is not a magic wand that makes everything good again, and sometimes it is not possible, certainly not for individuals, and often enough not possible for populations. Advocates of adaptation frequently think that it is a strategy for others and they will not have to take part. Simply to say adapt and go not further is a response of the ethically challenged. Adapt how, at what cost, in money and lives and quality of life.

Avoiding situations where dire choices have to be made is advisable, but evidently not to those who would rather not confront necessary changes to their own behavior.

Eli is not a big fan of adaptation. 

 UPDATE: Eli would once again remind everyone about J. Willard Rabett's four laws J. Willard sent Eli a set of laws to guide climate change policy makers 

1. Adaptation responds to current losses. 
2. Mitigation responds to future losses 
3. Adaptation plus future costs is more expensive than mitigation, 
4. Adaptation without mitigation drives procrastination penalties to infinity. 

 J. Willard thinks adaptation has an important role to play, but by itself adaptation is worse than useless, it actually can make things worse by delaying mitigation. While John McCormick thinks no serious person would suggest adaptation without mitigation, there are a lot of clowns out there with megaphones and pockets full of cash. In the words of Roger Revelle (1990)

Research and observation over the next ten to twenty years should give us a much better idea of the likely magnitude of atmospheric and global warming during the twenty first century. In the meantime we should think of ways to mitigate, adapt to, and better understand future global change and its effects on our societies and our environment
It is now 17 year since Revelle spoke those works


CapitalistImperialistPig said...

Sometimes, though, adaptation is the only alternative to extinction. Mitigation is a good idea, but the only strategy likely to work is drastic depopulation - ideally voluntarily, over a few generations.

Anonymous said...

Well, many are waiting for a few forward thinking (ne progressive) individuals (or collectives) to give up their cushy, high CO2 generating, urban ways and lead us back to low impact subsistence living (eg. Great Leap Forward, Cambodian relocations, etc.) or to volunteer to cease all O2 respiration to CO2 to Save the Earth.

Any plans for Rabbets to lead the way or are we just whining and expecting others to show the way while we do nothing?

stevesadlov said...

Change or be a fossil. It's a choice.

Sparrow (in the coal mine) said...


but the only strategy likely to work is drastic depopulation - ideally voluntarily, over a few generations.

Please do not take offense as I mean no harm. But to hold an opinion like this is to display gross ignorance not only of the speed of CO2 level increases but how current CO2 emissions can commit future temperature rises.

The CO2 emission timescales for tipping points simply are not large enough to allow the world to depopulate by old age.

Dr. Lemming said...

So does this mean that Eli will be buying beachfront property and selling his car, on the assumption that mitigation will make adaptation unnecessary?

Sometimes I get the feeling that anti-adaptationists actually want people to suffer just so that they can say told-you-so.

I reckon that emitter-pays adaptation (whether through carbon tax or trading licences) is the best way to go.

EliRabett said...

Climate change, as in many other things, requires that people work together and accept common and necessary limitations. Without discussing Eli's carbon footprint, which is Rabett sized, e.g. small for an American, large for someone from Senegal, it is well known that people will accept a regulation of their behavior for a common good. It is also well known that in the absence of that regulation people see no advantage of limiting their behavior when others are behaving badly to personal advantage.

So yes, Eli has no problem with the coming and necessary regulation of carbon emissions.

And Eli would ask the several pushing this particular peanut down the hill, why they think they have the right to behave badly. Mom Rabett does not approve.

Anonymous said...

Serious consideration of adaptation and means and methods to apply it to a warming, drought-prone, sea level rising world will be unavoidable.

The insurance industry has already charted its adaptation course. Agriculture will follow and the sea-coast petrochemical and electric power infrastructure relocation will not be far behind.

Adaptation is not a stand alone approach and never has been offered as such by serious minds. The means to adapt will require research and capital borne largely by the private sector and costs passed on to consumers.

THERE WILL ALWAYS BE THE PARAMOUNT DEMAND TO REDUCE ATMOSPHERIC CO2 CONCENTRATIONS for the simple fact that the industrial world cannot (long or short-term)adapt to moving targets. That is what AGW impacts will present.

Anonymous said...

Seems like 17 years later all is still well.

Now that we have but 8 more years until all sorts of predicted tipping points are crossed, it looks to me like we'll not see the alarmist warnings come true.

Perhaps those who are still concerned should retire to Venezula or the Frontier regions of Pakistan to join the society of the future.

guthrie said...

It seems to me that your all forgetting the ecosystems that we reply upon for food and water and suchlike, and which cannot adapt as fast as we can. Perhaps I should cut and paste one of Jeff harveys posts and leave it at that.

Anonymous 6:30- no, not everything is well and good. We still have oceans which are acidifying, and species which are demonstrable being pushed closer to extinction by the combined effects of habitat destruction and global warming.

Unknown said...

My view of adaptation and mitigation, regarding climate change, is somewhat different...

MITIGATION ― those actions required to limit climate change
ADAPTATION ― adjusting to the societal changes that come with mitigation...