Climate Adaptation is Often Overlooked in Government Policies and Efforts

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In February, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published the “Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States.” It reports on the US sea levels rising and will reach up to a foot by 2050.

The IPCC has released its Working Group II report, which focused on climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability.

These two reports are just an addition to an enormous body of scientific evidence that the planet is warming and human activities cause it. It has dire consequences on human society and ecosystems.

The Brown Daily Herald article, “Simon ’25: The overlooked importance of climate adaptation“, says that when it comes to addressing the climate impacts and vulnerabilities, governments place greater emphasis on mitigation and long-term solutions to climate change which overshadows the need to adapt to climate change.

The build-up of GHG in the atmosphere has put the planet on a path of roughly 3°C of warming by 2100 if there is no shift to current policies. While the Paris Agreements persuade countries to limit warming to 2°C or below through their climate actions, however, collective pledges of countries show that we are not on course to meet climate targets for 2030 and beyond, with many of their efforts are focused on reducing emission and slowing catastrophic levels of warming. The question is, what if the world is already too late to avoid the consequences of warming?

As climate change is now manifesting through record-breaking temperatures, droughts, and exceptionally powerful typhoons, it is about time that governments need to shift their focus on climate adaptation

In the NBC News article, “U.S. sea level rise accelerating, NOAA says,” NOAA administrator Rick Spinrad explains that current and future emissions matter, but this will happen no matter what we do about emissions. So, whether we reduce emissions now or not, sea levels are set to rise in the future, and we should better be prepared when seawaters arrive at our doorsteps.

The Brown Daily Herald article, “Simon ’25: The overlooked importance of climate adaptation” stressed that governments should also give equal attention and focus on climate adaptation policies, “which seek to reduce human vulnerability to the effects of climate change and adjust preexisting structures to tolerate extreme weather and heat better.”

More from the article:

“Localized efforts to address global warming through adapting urban infrastructure often receive less attention than national pledges to mitigate emissions, such as President Joe Biden’s call to achieve 100% clean electricity by 2035. But these localized efforts are just as central to effective and sustainable climate policy. We have to prepare for the changes that are certain to come in addition to the ones we’re already experiencing.”

The article says that lawmakers and activities focus more on climate mitigation than climate adaptation because the latter “seems a bit defeatist, like sheltering from the problem rather than fighting it.”  

“But adaptation is not a replacement for continued mitigation efforts. Rather, it’s the responsibility of our leaders and local communities to plan for the future and fight for a greener economy while concurrently building systems that are more capable of supporting us through the inevitable changes to come. An adaptive mindset doesn’t imply a lack of conviction, but rather a capacity for optimism and resilience.”

While climate mitigation policies can reduce the impacts of climate change, a growing body of research shows that climate change consequences are inevitable. Hence, governments should start preparing for climate change impacts and find ways to adapt and live alongside them.

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