Home » Musings

when all it takes is adjusting

3 November 2009 No Comment

Possible impacts of rising temperature due to climate change (Projected impact of climate change. (2008). In UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library. Retrieved 10:06, November 5, 2009 fromhttp://maps.grida.no/go/graphic/projected-impact-of-climate-change.)

Climate change is definitely on everyone’s minds-the key phrase being ‘down with CO2‘, in a bid to prevent the perceived possible extinction of mankind. It began with the industrial revolution, which eventually created the present economy which is dependant on the wonders of fuel. There is no denying that the by-products of the combustion of fuel release CO2 ­­­and other greenhouse gases into our ecosystem, which is warming the earth, also known as the greenhouse effect. This is resulting in climatic changes: some changes more detrimental than others. For example, the cold north (Europe) is now experiencing warm climate which may make it possible to harvest crops which otherwise is grown in regions near the tropics and equator. However, it also means it could possibly attract crop-destroying and disease-spreading insects. Tropics could possibly turn into completely dry and arid areas. Though these are speculative, it may be nearer to the truth as current global levels of CO2 have maxed out the ‘speculative’ worse-case scenario of carbon emissions, as it should be 280 ppm of CO2 equivalent, but it is at 380ppm. If it reaches 560 ppm, it could cause atmospheric temperature changes of upto 4.5°C, at which the earth is metaphorically burning.

To avert foreseen disaster, the world recognizes the importance of having to bring down the levels of CO2. It is evident in the creation of the Kyoto protocol and very soon, the Copenhagen Summit. So the current frenzy is Climate change mitigation, which is basically controlling or limiting carbon emission. The world is responding by stressing on renewable technologies and practices in industries, business and in households. There are limits to how much carbon a nation can emit safely and thereby reach a target of a reduced and acceptable presence of CO2 in the atmosphere.But the effects of climate change isn’t going to take place tomorrow, rather the carbon in the atmosphere provides feedback slowly, sometimes taking from 1 year upto 1000. So, we have time i.e. time to prepare ourselves, to create change and mostly, time to adapt.

Though it is only gaining prominence, Climate Change Adaptation is as critical as mitigation as it is a response to the possible impact of the existing and present carbon levels in the atmosphere which would date back to the industrial revolution. It is an acceptance of what is to come and ready ourselves to the change is not a new concept but is critical enough as species on this planet have either evolved to adapt or perished over their inability to do so.

Adaptation as a process can take place at three levels: personal, connections and space. To begin with personal adaptation is a phenomenon that occurs every day and every year. The reference is in context with climate change: we modify bodily cover as per weather conditions and phenomena, specific to location. For example, during Helsinki’s winter, one would don coats and snow boots, with special emphasis of layering of clothes to provide the body with adequate insulation on exposure to cold winds and fuzzy snow precipitation. In places like Cambodia, areas prone to flooding, the houses are simply built on stilts. Though a house is a personal effect, construction is achieved through communal efforts in these social groups.

This follows though into the second type which is through connective adaptations. The means is available though the formation of groups and communities or even, in the form of corporations. Here, communities create self-sufficient networks, stipulations of how life can be conducted in a fashion so as to be able to live in times without fossil fuels. An example of this is the creation of transition towns which is one type of model for developing sustainable living patterns and relies of resilience and self-sufficiency of the backing community.

That leaves us with spatial contemplation in an effort to find one’s feet to deal with the possible effects of climate change. For example, should sea-levels rise, how do residents and citizens of a city cope? How does the city itself cope? One option would involve moving to higher planes but a possible problem with this is the densification of population in one area and the possibility of all ground being covered by water. The second option could mean raising existing land levels but it might prove to be a short-term solution. The next possible solution is to raise the existing buildings on stilts or foundations and technology.building dykes or retaining walls around the land mass.

Simple solutions and achievable if one ignores the monetary cost involved. Just like mitigation, there is a price to climate adaptation. But if its not that, what options are we left with? But with certainty that lies in the uncertainty of climate change, we need to start getting our heads around avoiding its possible impacts.







Leave a Reply