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The Title of this Blog

December 4, 2009

The particularly astute reader will have noticed by now that the title of this blog is “Adapt Already.” Leaving aside the question of whether or not this blog actually has any readers, I want to say a bit about what this means to me. So far I’ve counted three connotations of the phrase “Adapt Already:”

  1. I am convinced that, whether we know it or not, we are already adapting to climate change. Some of it is deliberate, and some of it is not. But despite so much forward-looking talk about the fact that we need to start adapting to climate change, human society has always been adapting to change at many different scales. This is not to reject climate adaptation as an organizing concept, but to recognize that it cannot be treated in isolation from other forces in the world. Most of the things we might do in order to adapt to climate change (e.g. secure water resources, fortify coastal infrastructure, strengthen emergency response systems, improve health services…) would be a good idea even if we were clueless about climate change.
  2. For a long time adaptation has played second fiddle to the much more flashy issue of “mitigation,” which refers to the reduction of emissions in order to reduce or forestall changes in the climate. Two decades ago, support for adaptation was tantamount to an admission of defeat. It has been difficult to convince the world that even under the most optimistic scenarios of emissions reductions we will experience significant climate change that will require us to adapt.
  3. And of course, the title is a reference to the research I am undertaking here in Australia. I am interested in how the government is approaching the problem of adapting to climate change, and the role of science in that agenda. How do they define adaptation? How do they develop priorities for adaptation activity, and for science that informs adaptation?

Future posts will explore all of these perspectives in more detail, especially the third one. If you have a perspective on adaptation, and how it adds meaning to the way we deal with climate change and other problems, I’d love to hear it either in the comments or by email.

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