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Mitigation vs. adaptation at Three Roads Blog
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Mitigation vs. adaptation

Responding to climate change involves an iterative risk management process that includes both adaptation and mitigation and takes into account climate change damages, co-benefits, sustainability, equity, and attitudes to risk.

From the November 2007 Synthesis Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report

To offer a pretty huge simplification, the popular argument about climate change has been, until recently, about whether anthropogenic climate change is truth or fiction.

Now that we’ve all (the mainstream, at least) come around to the inconvenient truth of the matter and the skeptics have scurried for cover (I realize it could be a tactical retreat), there’s a polarization vacuum. I don’t expect there to be a vacuum for long. People need to take sides. Since the denial iceberg has melted, I suspect people are looking for another floe to jump on.

I predict the new debate will pit those who would seek primarily to mitigate the effects of climate change against those who would seek primarily to adapt to the effects of climate change. While both will no doubt be necessary, as the latest and final installment of the IPCC’s report makes clear, I suspect that there will be partisans for one approach over the other. And look for the people who once denied climate change to make the leap to the Let’s Just Adapt argument.

To simplify even further and venture another guess, I bet that wealthier countries will prefer the adaptation model to the mitigation one, because while mitigation involves putting the breaks on certain behavior (never popular in a capitalist society), adaptation trends toward growth and new development (always popular).

5 Responses to “Mitigation vs. adaptation”


  1. 1 Dan Glenballs

    what about the Floridians and Texans? Virtually anyone living on the Coastal plain (made up of cretaceous reef deposits or reefs from another sea level high stand) are screwed. unless they develop gills like Kevin Costner did in water world, adaptation means mass movement into already populated areas. And I already hate Floridians and Texans. damn.

  2. 2 Jeb

    “Virtually anyone living on the Coastal plain (made up of cretaceous reef deposits or reefs from another sea level high stand) are screwed.”

    What are you, some kind of geologist? [Said using air quotes around the word geologist.]

    Anyway, good points, Dan. While I can tolerate a few Floridians, an influx of Texans is truly something to fear.

  3. 3 logan

    Glenballs sounds like some kind of buttologist to me. Regarding Texans and Floridians, is it our fault that their states are under water? I don’t think so. Build the fence now before they buy up all the good real estate. Oh, wait…

  4. 4 Jeb

    From an Onion editorial:

    [Why] dwell in Dumpsville when you can take a trolley to Happytown?

    I know, I know. You’re worried about global warming, aren’t you? That’s okay. If you live in a low-lying coastal area, like 53 percent of our population does, then you are in danger of having everything you love lost to flooding. Well, roll up your pants and wade right in is what I say, because if life gives you water, it’s time to go swimming!

  5. 5 Dan Glenballs

    If a buttologist means I check out fine booty all day, then yes i qualify. I have a Ph.d in buttology.

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