A temperature higher on average across the globe than any previously recorded since instrument readings began in the 1850s was measured on July 3. That record was broken again on July 4, and then again on July 5. We designed our infrastructure and agricultural practices for a pre-climate change Earth. We are unprepared for what is coming.
The polarization of adaptation and mitigation might also have created blind spots that made it harder to push for planet-cooling policies.
Adaptation to climate change alone is already a failed strategy.
Because the so-called ‘emergency’ isn’t going to solve it for us. Moreover, it isn’t going to get ‘solved’ as such at all. The start of the new beginning we need, is to admit that we have failed. And then seek, everywhere, and together, a real way forward.
As the need for large-scale migration to safer areas becomes more accepted (or we wait until we have no choice), these inequities will only be exacerbated unless policies are put in place to prevent it.
The wicked problem of climate adaptation is compounded in rural areas because the people who need to collaborate are distributed far and wide across different organizations and political jurisdictions; no one has overarching authority.
The United States government has now officially embraced climate change as a catastrophe in the making. Only it contends that the catastrophe is now inevitable no matter what humans do…and so, we should do nothing at all since whatever we do won’t matter much.
The naive notion that we can, for example, “just use more air conditioning” as the globe warms betrays a perplexing misunderstanding of what we face. Even if one ignores the insanity of burning more climate-warming fossil fuels to make electricity for more air-conditioning, there is the embedded assumption that our current infrastructure with only minor modifications will withstand the pressures placed upon it in a future transformed by climate change and other depredations.
There is a notion afoot that our agricultural production can simply migrate toward the poles in the face of climate change as areas in lower latitudes overheat and dry up. Few people contemplate what such a move would entail and whether it would actually be feasible.
How can reporting on energy, presented as opportunity or catastrophic risk, compete against grumpy cat memes and economic woes? Is there a secret to breaking through the flood of information to make a meaningful impression on the public?
Carbon is hot. This was the main message of a conference on climate change and agriculture that I attended last week in Davis, California. Everyone was talking about carbon, either as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere or soil carbon below our feet. Farmers, scientists, policy-wonks, regulators, graduate students, activists and many others all had something to say about carbon.