Home > Uncategorized > Pop Quiz: Mitigation or Adaptation

Pop Quiz: Mitigation or Adaptation

2010 August 9

This is more up Dr. Pielke Jr’s alley, nevertheless…

Climate change mitigation is action to decrease the intensity of radiative forcing in order to reduce the potential effects of global warming.

Adaptation is the evolutionary process whereby a population becomes better suited to its habitat.

Moscow, [Mr Seltsovsky] said, had 1,500 places in its morgues and 1,300 of these were currently occupied.

1. Mr Seltsovksy could be illustrating an example of …
a. Mitigation
b. Adaptation

2. Which of the following is likely to be the cheapest response to extreme heat events?
a. Develop and manage an international system to reduce GHG emissions
b. Create, equip, and sustain regional wildfire response teams
c. Create, equip, and sustain emergency civilian shelters
d. Build more morgues.

Disclaimer: no one specific weather event can be cited as an example of climate change. The above quote is intended to be representational, not a claim of attribution. This post should be read as: Dark Humor

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  1. carrot eater
    2010 August 9 at 11:09 am

    I vote for more morgues.

    This gets at something tricky when trying to estimate the relative costs of mitigation or adaptation, in any given scenario, not just climate change. What price human life? If you are going to do cost/benefit analysis, you need to cost out human lives. One way to do it is figure out the economic activity lost if somebody dies young, before they put in a full career. But then you end up with American lives valued much more heavily than African ones. Is that really the right way to do it? And then the discount rate comes in, which raises similar difficulties as you weigh costs at different points in the future.

  2. 2010 August 9 at 11:56 am

    I am fatalistic about the ability of the world to *implement* a CO2 management plan, even if they ever reach agreement about the need for one. OTOH, adaptation costs money as well. This morning’s NPR report suggested that while many civilian shelters had been designated few had been equipped with air conditioning. Adaptation is a rich man’s game.

  3. carrot eater
    2010 August 9 at 12:22 pm

    “Adaptation is a rich man’s game.”

    Indeed.

    It’s also not an either/or. Even if you did implement some mitigation strategy, it’s not as if the world would return to pre-industrial conditions the next day. You’d have to adapt anyway, just as you adapt to all the other challenges that come along.

    The thing with climate change, it’s a slow motion thing. When you look at some economist’s report of how much adaptation would cost, you see everything written together at once. But as you live it, it doesn’t happen all at once. You may not even notice the wider patterns if you weren’t looking for them.

  4. 2010 August 9 at 12:37 pm

    So, that suggests another strategy – the poor man’s game

    1. Mitigation
    2. Adaptation
    3. Migration

    Ooooh! Ouch! Didn’t I read somewhere recently that migration as a coping strategy is just “silly science”. 😉

    Of course, migrants tend to be poor – relative to the region they are migrating towards. But I would guess that they are not the poorest in the region of their origin. The poorest of the poor often lack the resources to leave Dodge.

  5. carrot eater
    2010 August 9 at 12:49 pm

    Migration is part of adaptation, and it’s always been a part that bothered me.

    When told that some patch of earth might become arid, and another part of earth becomes arable, due to climate change, people sometimes glibly say that people can just move.

    Politically, that’s just naive. Large scale migration does indeed happen, but it tends to provoke all sorts of unrest as well. Whoever benefits from climate change, will want to benefit from their windfall, not just give it to whoever lost out.

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