17 Aug 2011

Let's get real

It's increasingly obvious to me that no human or natural actions are going to limit climate change. The question then is what adaptation steps to take to minimize personal and social harm.

On a personal level, I am planning to live in places with good institutions for managing water (yes, Amsterdam; no, Los Angeles). I still have enough economic "potential" to insure myself against harm, but there will be more tragic "accidents."

On a social level, I'm working for (and hoping for) water policies that integrate water scarcity (or abundance) into people's decisions. It's obvious that water prices can accomplish this task by fluctuating, but there are many other possible actions. Some of these actions can complement accurate water pricing, but none should be used as a substitute.

What do YOU think about these ideas? Do you agree on CC? If yes or no, what actions are you taking on a personal level? What actions should we take on a social level?


  1. Climate change is an interesting political issue because there it includes both great uncertainty and great risk. (Readers of this blog understand of course that risk and uncertainty are very different things.)

    Behavioral economists understand that the human brain did not evolve to rationally react to uncertainty or risk. Most people react emotionally and nothing attracts more attention in the human brain than someone shouting, "snake", "fire", or some other version of am immediate danger or crisis.

    Bottom Line: Some people know they can gain influence and power by "not letting a good crisis go to waste" and they are not afraid to use it.

  2. I dont agree on climate change particularly if put on a war footing to exact positive changes.

    On another point i think le vays basque or galliica are the optimuin survivial stops. humid and maritime and never froze during last ice age
    also the pintxos are lovely.as a west of ireland man thats my emergency exit

    its always in someone interest if a disaster occurs especially those how are resource rich.

  3. DZ, I'm noticing more and more people talking about adaptation to climate change, and I find that encouraging. Every extant species on this planet survived the episode of global warming about 11,500 years ago, when the global climate rose by as much as 6 degrees C in as little as a century. Adaptation worked then and it will work now; arguably, humans are better equipped to adapt and thrive on change than they were then.

    It's really a shame that the CC discussion got sidetracked by a false conflation of three separable ideas. We have global climate change - an observable fact, supported by massive amounts of evidence, not really a controversial point in and of itself. We have anthropogenic contributions to global CC - supported by considerable evidence, but still imperfectly understood, and controversial. And these became linked together wih a call to action to prevent/reverse CC, something that may well be physically impossible and in any case is extremely poorly understood, presents large risks with large uncertainties, and is of course highly controversial and polarizing. Lumping all three of those ideas into a single narrative has done a lot of harm.

    So it's encouraging to see thoughtful people separating those ideas and realizing that accepting the reality of CC does not automatically mean we have to believe in trying to stop it. There are much more robust ways to deal with an uncertain future, strategies that don't require participants adhere to a belief system, and it's good to see people focusing on those.

  4. So, on a personal level I have become more self-sufficient, less dependent on large and complex management systems predicated on assumptions about the future. This wasn't strictly an adaptive response to CC, but something I wanted to do anyway, which makes it robust against uncertainty (i.e. it's good no matter what the climate does).

    Socially, I'm helping others in my community uderstand the ideas we are discussing here: that resilience against uncertainty is the best response to climate change, and that adaptation offers a relatively bright future (compared to the conventional gloom-and-doom narrative of the AGW story).

  5. Fow those interested in adaptation to climate change in the water sector: the publications and movies of the Co-operative Programme on Water and Climate (CPWC) have just been made available through www.cwpc.nl. – http://www.cpwc.nl


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