Climate Change - Adaptation

Future climate change is eminent even without greenhouse gasses. Finding ways to adapt to this change is necessary in many regions of the world. This need to adapt may be crucial in areas growing in population subject to extreme weather events. However, the IPCC believes, “adaptation alone is not expected to cope with all the projected effects of climate change, and especially not over the long term as most impacts increase in magnitude.”

The IPCC defines adaptation as the following “adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities”.

The extent of the impact of extreme climate change to ecosystems and various sectors of the economy will depend not merely on their sensitivity to climate change, but more so on those systems’ individual abilities to adapt.

One example of a strategy for adaptation is to prevent damage from climate change with shore protection, which should prevent sea level rise from flooding low level properties, eroding beaches, or even worsen flooding. If the costs of these environmental strategies are too high, an alternative strategy would be to plan a retreat, in which property can be relocated inland as sea levels rise.

Adapting to an environmental change is nothing new. Human society has shown throughout its history great levels of adapting to different environmental changes. For example, farmers have frequently shown a need and ability to adapt to many challenges in overcoming adversity or to get rid of important impediments to sustain productivity.

None the less, our human society is not entirely protected against current climate changes and extreme weather events. Economic loss from climate fluctuations and extremes can reach enormous proportions. This would surely indicate that society is susceptible and that the need to adapt has not been enough to offset many damages that come with current changes in climatic conditions.

Climate change influenced by green house gasses represents a new challenge, and may require adaptation strategies to changes that will most likely be larger and faster than experiences of past. Thus being stated, the IPCC finalized in saying that “adaptation will be necessary to address impacts resulting from the warming which is already unavoidable due to past emissions.”

Assessment Product 4.7 and Climate Change Science Program Synthesis, the Impact of Climate Variability and Change on Transportation Systems/ Infrastructure – Gulf Coast Study:

The US Dept. of Transportation chose the central U.S. Gulf Coast as a location for the first of many research studies to include information on climate change and fluctuation into decision making in sectors of transportation. This region of the Gulf Coast has unique transportation methods and unusual topography making it particularly susceptible to sea level change and the threat of severe weather storms.

All climate sensitive regions of these systems in society, including agriculture, water resources, human health, etc., most likely will need to show an adaptation to a changing climate or eventually face reduced production, function and health in comparison to previous times.