Adaptation: The process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects. In human systems, adaptation seeks to moderate or avoid harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. In some natural systems, human intervention may facilitate adjustment to expected climate and its effects. (IPCC AR5 WG2, Summary for Policy Makers [SPM]). Read the SPM here.
I had to read the beginning of the AR5 WG2 report very quickly, as I didn’t want to get bogged down in stuff I don’t agree with. I was looking for specific recommendations on what the human race can do to adapt to climate change over the course of this century.
Having read the rest of it, I have to say that it makes sense. It also reads as if it were written by Bjorn Lomborg.
Their advice for dealing with malaria and other vector borne diseases? “Achieving development goals, particularly improved access to safe water and improved sanitation, and enhancement of public health functions such as surveillance”
For dealing with stresses on crop productivity? “Technological adaptation responses (e.g., stress-tolerant crop varieties, irrigation, enhanced observation systems)”
For stress on water resources? “Reducing non-climate stressors on water resources.”
I wonder why the Konsensus is so angry at Lomborg. The IPCC is stealing his ideas….
Here’s more. I will continue with this for a few posts.
The IPCC believes that some progress is being made in institutional planning processes, writing “Engineered and technological options are commonly implemented adaptive responses, often integrated within existing programs such as disaster risk management and water management. There is increasing recognition of the value of social, institutional, and ecosystem-based measures and of the extent of constraints to adaptation. Adaptation options adopted to date continue to emphasize incremental adjustments and cobenefits and are starting to emphasize flexibility and learning (medium evidence, medium agreement). Most assessments of adaptation have been restricted to impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation planning, with very few assessing the processes of implementation or the effects of adaptation actions (medium evidence, high agreement). 1”
Most of what has happened in terms of adaptation involves education and planning.
“Examples of adaptation across regions include the following:
• In Africa, most national governments are initiating governance systems for adaptation. Disaster risk management, adjustments in technologies and infrastructure, ecosystem-based approaches, basic public health measures, and livelihood diversification are reducing vulnerability, although efforts to date tend to be isolated. 18
• In Europe, adaptation policy has been developed across all levels of government, with some adaptation planning integrated into coastal and water management, into environmental protection and land planning, and into disaster risk management. 19
• In Asia, adaptation is being facilitated in some areas through mainstreaming climate adaptation action into subnational development planning, early warning systems, integrated water resources management, agroforestry, and coastal reforestation of mangroves. 20
• In Australasia, planning for sea level rise, and in southern Australia for reduced water availability, is becoming adopted widely. Planning for sea level rise has evolved considerably over the past 2 decades and shows a diversity of approaches, although its implementation remains piecemeal. 21
• In North America, governments are engaging in incremental adaptation assessment and planning, particularly at the municipal level. Some proactive adaptation is occurring to protect longer-term investments in energy and public infrastructure. 22
• In Central and South America, ecosystem-based adaptation including protected areas, conservation agreements, and community management of natural areas is occurring. Resilient crop varieties, climate forecasts, and integrated water resources management are being adopted within the agricultural sector in some areas. 23”
• In the Arctic, some communities have begun to deploy adaptive co-management strategies and communications infrastructure, combining traditional and scientific knowledge. 24
• In small islands, which have diverse physical and human attributes, community-based adaptation has been shown to generate larger benefits when delivered in conjunction with other development activities. 25
• In the ocean, international cooperation and marine spatial planning are starting to facilitate adaptation to climate change, with constraints from challenges of spatial scale and governance issues. 26
Sadly, “Uncertainties about future vulnerability, exposure, and responses of interlinked human and natural systems are large (high confidence). This motivates exploration of a wide range of socioeconomic futures in assessments of risks. Understanding future vulnerability, exposure, and response capacity of interlinked human and natural systems is challenging due to the number of interacting social, economic, and cultural factors, which have been incompletely considered to date.”
However, starting on page 21, they start giving concrete policy options.
Their first ‘key risk’ is “Compounded stress on water resources facing significant strain from overexploitation and degradation at present and increased demand in the future, with drought stress exacerbated in drought-prone regions of Africa.”
The options they provide are: “• Reducing non-climate stressors on water resources • Strengthening institutional capacities for demand management, groundwater assessment, integrated water-wastewater planning, and integrated land and water governance • Sustainable urban development.”
Next is “Reduced crop productivity associated with heat and drought stress, with strong adverse effects on regional, national, and household livelihood and food security, also given increased pest and disease damage and flood impacts on food system infrastructure (high confidence)”
And their advice is “• Technological adaptation responses (e.g., stress-tolerant crop varieties, irrigation, enhanced observation systems) • Enhancing smallholder access to credit and other critical production resources; Diversifying livelihoods • Strengthening institutions at local, national, and regional levels to support agriculture (including early warning systems) and gender-oriented policy • Agronomic adaptation responses (e.g., agroforestry, conservation agriculture.”
This is followed by “Changes in the incidence and geographic range of vector- and water-borne diseases due to changes in the mean and variability of temperature and precipitation, particularly along the edges of their distribution (medium confidence)”
Their prescription is: “• Achieving development goals, particularly improved access to safe water and improved sanitation, and enhancement of public health functions such as surveillance • Vulnerability mapping and early warning systems • Coordination across sectors • Sustainable urban development.”
If you’ve gotten this far, you’ll be struck by how much Bjorn Lomborg would be nodding his head.