It's the Environment, Stupid.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The climate change solution - adapt

Lloyds of London has a new report, "Adapt or Bust" (via Climate Change Action). The content and recommendations are similar to that of a report put out a couple of months ago by the Alianz Group and the World Wildlife Federation, which focused on the risks and liabilities that the insurance industry will face due to a projected increase of weather related catastrophes.

The Lloyds report was a little more overt than the Alianz/WWF report in suggesting that the insurance industry needs to revise policies and coverage appropriately and to partner with businesses to reduce the anticipated future risks of climate change. However, the thing I like about these reports 1) they accept climate change science and that it is a real, occuring phenomena; 2) reducing emissions is NOT the end goal; 3) the message is we must adapt... or else.

Taking this stance on climate change is a view not commonly heard - if at all - in the mainstream media. Al Gore's recent press blitz promoting the DVD release of "An Inconvenient Truth" was commendable. (If Oprah's on the climate change bandwagon you know America will follow.) But talking about emission reductions, carbon offsets and changing our lightbulbs will not lessen the impacts of global warming. These efforts will help reduce (in theory) the level of GHG in our atmosphere, but it will take time to see any real change, especially given the current political/business reluctance to make any real emission reductions over the next 20 years, the expected population growth and projected incrase of energy/fuel usage over that same time, and the century long persistence of CO2 in the atmosphere. Reducing emissions alone will not protect us from the climate "anomalies" that are increasingly plaguing the globe.

What can help people deal with extreme heat or cold, droughts or flooding, and other weather related catasrophes will be things like smarter spatial and city planning (building, transportation etc.), research and development of alternative energies and more effective water use strategies, and mandating high performance building standards (several of these are mentioned in the Allianz/WWF report). These types of things must be considered and practiced if we are really going to lessen the impacts of climate change.

The insurance companies realize this, and while their motives are focused on reducing their loss on payouts rather than reducing the amount of human suffering, smarter, adaptive focused policies must become more of a part of the greater climate change dialogue....or else.

(This is a recurring theme in my blog - here's some past posts about the whole act/re-act/adapt stuff here, here, here, and here.)


  • I would be a little uncertain about merely focussing on adaptation as such. The term adaptation is often used to cover a multitude of sins - in particular 'adapting' to 'inevitable' changes, and completely disregarding rationalising our energy consumption - which for obvious environmental and economic reasons must happen and I would argue it achievable. Although you do use the term more broadly later in this piece I think it is very very important that you clarify your definition otherwise you run the risk of being completely misrepresented.

    By Blogger Tan Copsey, at 05:46  

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