Climate change is one of the most pressing global issues of our time. It has the potential to cause drastic ecological changes that could threaten the existence of many species, including humans. It is important that we do what we can to adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects.
What are the climate risks that we face? It really depends on where you live and what climate change adaptation strategies that you can use. In this post, we’ll explore the ways that humans can adapt to climate change and rising greenhouse gas emissions.
What is climate change?
Climate change and global warming are used interchangeably to indicate how the climate is changing based on increasing levels of heat-trapping “greenhouse gases” in the atmosphere. These greenhouse gases, which include carbon dioxide, methane, and other gases, create a “greenhouse” effect and inadvertently warm the earth by trapping heat.
Climate change mitigation is all about preventing the worse effects of climate change before they happen. Prevent things like sea level rise (from melting ice), food shortages from severe weather, and death from extreme weather events like droughts and extreme heatwaves.
Climate change adaptation is all about learning to live with the effects of climate change. Where mitigation may focus on preventing sea level rise, adaptation explores how we can continue to survive and thrive, even when the oceans are rising. Mitigation and adaptation are both responses to the fact that we can’t seem to prevent global climate change from happening.
How can we adapt to climate change?
Climate change adaptation is very often common sense. Scientists work together to evaluate the climate risks, and then develop solutions. In the case of sea level rise, natural or physical barriers to prevent flooding of coastal cities is a good climate change adaptation measure.
The climate crisis also makes it more likely that our forests will suffer. Some scientists are exploring whether “assisted migration” can help some species of trees survive. Assisted migration is the practice of taking seeds from trees and planting them where the future climate will be more appropriate. So, we may take seeds from Florida and plant them in Georgia, hoping that the move northward will help those trees survive.
Finally, adapting to the effects of extreme weather events is critical. Natural disasters cause death, suffering, and illness across the world, but developing countries are especially at risk. Working to secure basic human necessities, like food security and water quality, will ensure that people are more resilient when a natural disaster comes.
Countries may also invest in early warning systems or other preventive tools meant to protect citizens. An entire “climate finance” sector has arisen in the last few decades to support developing countries in adapting to climate change and mitigating their climate risk.
How can we mitigate the changing climate?
One way we can adapt to climate change is by changing the way we live. We can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy sources. We can also reduce our consumption and waste production. We can plant trees and create green spaces to help absorb carbon dioxide and cool the atmosphere.
Many of these strategies are meant to be implemented by governments and businesses, not by individuals. A single person reducing their waste production won’t do much for climate adaptation. But businesses that commit to true renewable energy or to reduce their waste will make a much bigger difference. Government policies can drive these positive changes and help everyone with climate adaptation.
We can also adapt to climate change by learning about it and preparing for it. We can develop policies and plans that will help us cope with the impacts of climate change. We can also build resilience into our communities so that they’re better able to withstand shocks like floods or drought. The climate crisis is scary, but we can survive a changing climate with climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.
Climate change mitigation and adaptation takes all of us
The climate crisis from global warming isn’t going away. Heat-trapping greenhouse gases continue to be released into our atmosphere every year. As we age, we can expect a warmer climate. Global change will continue onwards. The best thing we can do as individuals is to demand our leaders create climate adaptation policy and hold companies accountable for reducing emissions.
Together, we can reduce the severity of climate change impacts. From public health and social protection to health care, public transport, and flood defenses, the impacts of climate change will affect every aspect of our lives. But scientists and citizens alike can meet new challenges with adaptive measures at the global and the local scale.
We need your help to hold companies and governments accountable to their climate impacts.