Adaptation is the Rational Response to Climate Change: Guest Opinion

Oct 5th, 2014 | By | Category: Advocacy, News

15973573-mmmainIt is ironic to observe the ranting and pleading of those hoping to curtail climate change through human intervention when it is obvious that there is nothing significant that we humans can or will do to affect it. Unfortunately, the prevailing characteristics of the human species are self-interest, greed, tribalism and short-sightedness, none of which is conducive to intervention in this gradual and disruptive change to our environment.

The projected increase in the world’s population and the growth of the middle class in developing countries ensure that the demand for energy will be increasing for decades to come. The consumption of fossil fuels will inevitably grow regardless of how much investment is plowed into alternative sources such as solar and wind. It is inconceivable that we can provide anywhere near enough energy from these sources to substitute for fossil fuels in the next century.

In addition, there are serious environmental and delivery problems that these sources confront. Solar and wind are notoriously unpredictable, and energy from them cannot be stored easily or cheaply, thus requiring expensive fossil fuel backup systems. To provide enough solar power we would have to cover huge areas of the earth with panels and destroy the underlying ecosystems in the process. Wind turbines kill birds and bats and, if there are enough of them to supply significant energy, disrupt the natural wind forces and despoil the land.

Rather than tilting at windmills (forgive the pun!), we should be focusing on how to adapt to the projected impacts that climate change will be delivering to us. The Netherlands has already started this process by moving people from some of their lowest, most vulnerable areas and improving their sophisticated sea barrier systems. Some low-lying nations such as the Maldives have also initiated a planning process that would move their population to higher ground in other countries. All nations should follow their lead and start addressing the coming increase in sea levels and temperature in an intelligent and rational manner.

Rather than wasting time on trying to implement futile and economically debilitating actions like a carbon tax, let’s focus on steps that will allow us to adapt and survive the coming and inevitable changes to our climate.

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