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Adapting to Climate Change – Key to Survival?


The report clearly underlines that besides mitigation, there is an urgent need to focus on adaptation as climate change impacts have already begun in earnest. But what is more important is to understand what needs to be done to reduce such adverse consequences of climate change.

The ability of human society to adapt itself to a changing climate rests on local knowledge, which needs to be tapped and supported by modern technology and government mechanisms. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the various ecosystems are important steps to prepare relevant climate change adaptation strategies. The adaptation process has many implications for governments, policy-makers and communities.

Governments need to assess the magnitude of potential climate change driven disasters and their effects on communities and natural assets, rather than skillfully dodging or circumventing international commitments to mitigate climate change. Many developed nations defer from contributing to emissions reduction programs as they do not see the direct benefits coming back to them. This seemingly enduring equation of give and take does not operate in the natural world. So, whether a country has taken the responsibility of cutting down its carbon footprint or not is of little consequence given the certainty that no region on the planet is isolated from climate change impacts. This also reinforces the point that unless there is total participation of nations in emissions reduction programs, to bring down the overall global carbon levels, mitigation strategies would not be successful.

Huge investments are required to build resilience against mufti-dimensional impacts of climate change that have already been triggered due to historic anthropogenic emissions, which should act as a deterrent to further rampant exploitation of natural wealth. Policy-makers need to strike a balance between expending natural wealth and ushering social prosperity, and avoiding environment-unfriendly projects. This is where the poor and vulnerable nations would face severe financial hardships. Developing nations riding on high growth rates by loosely trading natural wealth for immediate economic returns need to factor these investments in their long term economic development plans.

With new knowledge on ongoing and potential impacts of climate change across various regions, there is opportunity for policy-makers within a region to come together to address climate change issues from an adaptation perspective and collaborate by jointly investing in adaptation projects. This can entail wide ranging activities and would require a lot of creative thinking on the part of policy-makers and local communities.

At the grassroots level, the general public needs to ask their policy-makers and administrators about their commitments to take action on climate change issues. Food shortages lead to inflation, which can cut down heavily on disposable income. The impact is felt hard by the marginalized sections of society as they are exposed to greater vulnerability. Loss of fertility of agricultural lands and water scarcity, owing to harsh climatic conditions, can also drive neighboring nations to war. Climate migration has already become a phenomena is some parts of Africa that has forced communities to migrate in search of water and food, which have triggered violent clashes with neighboring communities.

There are serious consequences for businesses as well. Climatic shifts have started affecting the ripening season for the centuries’ old coffee plantations in virtually every major coffee producing regions of the world. Higher temperatures, long periods of drought and erratic rainfall are seen as a threat to the much admired taste and availability of coffee. Supply chain risks – uncertainty in availability of supplies, are becoming more prominent in many food related industries. Businesses cannot wish away the need to evolve their adaptation strategies to survive.

Climate change is going to hit everyone in direct and indirect ways. In the short run, so long as the temperature rises are minimal, those who adapt well may survive better. But in the long run, even adaptation will not help in survival. Only carbon mitigation strategies will help in controlling significant temperature rise.


Editor SpeakThe author is currently Editor at ThinktoSustain.com – a market space for ideas


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