The climate is changing. Mitigation is critical, but adaptation becomes more critical as global emissions continue increasing and the impacts of climate change grow.
The longer it takes to mitigate, the more we must adapt.
Even if anthropogenic emissions magically halted tomorrow, the latency in the climate system resulting from nearly two centuries of burning exponentially more fossil energy has not yet caught up with us. We are in the Anthropocene, and we need to adapt.
Practically speaking, we already understand that much of our infrastructure needs hardening to withstand the new climate regime. Rising seas and torrential rains overwhelm communities large and small, rich and especially poor.
Adaptation can mean a planned retreat from oceanfront development destined to succumb to sea level rise. It could be adapting to a more localized economy, farmer’s markets, or a “sharing economy.”
From reinforcing bridges and seawalls to lifestyle changes, climate adaptation strategies range from strengthening and restructuring our built environment to alleviating the impact of a hyper-consumer, digitized AI economy.