Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Adaptation "Aha" Moment?

At the Framework Convention on Climate Change, taking place on Bali, there have been calls for having the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - which recently released its latest report and has normally convened to update its report every 5 or 6 years - convene to update its current report next year...and pretty much to continue operating continuously from now on.

As reported by Andy Revkin on DotEarth:

The discussions in Bali about more frequent climate assessments echo a growing call within the scientific community for the climate panel and other big climate-research institutions to shift more from basic science to real-world forecasting, helping communities exploit or withstand changes for the better or worse.

Such forecasts need to be improved because significant warming is unavoidable for decades to come even if countries begin to trim greenhouse-gas emissions, according to the climate panel’s latest studies.

Kevin Trenberth, a longtime contributor to the U.N. panel’s reports and senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., put it this way early this year:

“For me the issue is that the climate is changing and we cannot stop it. We can slow it down, and should, but realistically I don’t believe that we will ever get to level emissions, let alone reduced ones. So climate change will continue and we must adapt. But adapt to what?”

Adapt to what, indeed? Getting more specific local forecasts would help localities set proper directions for preparations for climate change. But such forecasts are not simple to make. As the Pew Center for Global Climate Change says in its paper, "Coping With Global Climate Change: The Role of Adaptation in the United States,"
The processes of adaptation to climate change in both human and natural systems are highly complex and dynamic, often entailing many feedbacks and dependencies on existing local and temporal conditions. The uncertainties introduced by the complexity, scale and limited experience with respect to anthropogenic climate change explains the limited level of applied research conducted thus far on adaptation, the reliance on mechanistic assumptions, and widespread use of scenarios and historical analogues.
But it's not too early to begin improving the local communications infrastructure and habits that communities will need when their forecasts become more concrete and reliable. Some places are already thick into adaptation - to what may become annual flooding, chronic drought, frequent storms, more extreme temperatures and all of the indirect consequences of these weather effects.

1 comment:

gregra&gar said...

See my post on the UN's idea of adaptation here.