Climate Change – The Next Step: Adaptation

Global Warming. Public Domain

by Sue DeGregorio-Rosen, RN, CLNC, Contributing Editor

Climate change adaptation is the process of adjusting to the effects of climate change. These can be both current and expected impacts. Adaptation aims to moderate or avoid harm for people. It also aims to exploit opportunities. Humans may also intervene to help adjust for natural systems. (Wikipedia)

Smokestacks, Sue DeGregorio-Rosen, Photographer

Adapting is what we must do.  We know that since the Industrial Revolution, we, the human inhabitants, have released large amounts of carbon dioxide and other toxins into the atmosphere, which has produced some of the earth’s climate change. We also know that changes in the sun’s energy and volcanic eruptions also affect the earth’s climate. We are experiencing changes on a much quicker basis. Category 5 hurricanes that wipe out an entire area of Florida, hurricane warnings in areas that never before were seen, a recent earthquake devastation in Morocco, and in Libya, a storm so deadly that caused massive flooding has taken over 5,000 victims in its toll. Disasters, in every sense of the word, all with infrastructures that cannot withstand causing the loss of lives and the damage to these areas.

Climate change varies by nature and has since the beginning of time. But we, as the human beings that dwell on this planet, have influenced, and warmed this atmosphere both in our ocean waters and land. We have added to, since the 1950’s and sped up this process and now we look at what to do, how do we adapt.

Climate change is not new, since the beginning of time the earth has been warming and changing, But unless we begin to understand and take seriously our part in screwing with nature and we slow down this warming, billions will reach a point where we can no longer adapt.  Even though climate change is a normal occurrence, years of research by the UN based on the impacts of human-causes is much larger than previously thought.  It’s taking place much quicker; it’s become more disruptive and more widespread than scientists expected.  

Scientists have warned for decades that warming needs to stay below 1.5 Celsius, The ironic report on 9/11/2023 (and I say that because it was 9/11) from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), showed if that limit is breached, some changes will be irreversible for hundreds — if not thousands — of years. And some changes may be permanent, even if the planet cools back down. And where will we be?

The world is already 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer than before industrialization, according to the IPCC’s estimate, which is considered conservative. We are now rapidly barreling toward 1.5 degrees.

The majority of our electricity and heat is powered by coal, oil, and gas. We can learn to become less dependent on these systems by reducing our heating and cooling use, switching to LED light bulbs and energy-efficient electric appliances, washing our laundry with cold water, or hanging things to dry instead of using a dryer.  We can recycle, we can donate to those less fortunate.   Mitigation – reducing climate change – involves reducing the flow of heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, by reducing sources of these gases.  Only we can do that. Walk, if at all possible, to your next destination.  Why are kids being bused from school, one at a time, to their homes? Kids need exercise. They need to go outside and play.

 Why are we building more, when there are so many vacant buildings that can be reutilized for housing? And the trash?????  Seriously? What happened to recycling and compost.  Grow your own veggies and herbs, plant some herbs.  Allow the bees to do what they are meant to do, pollinate.  Give our birds some room, here.   Our infrastructure needs to be maintained and changed where necessary. These are only simple suggestions.

Drought puts enormous pressure on food production and increases the world’s already food supply challenges. The water crisis is here in the Western United States. For some time now drought has drained reservoirs and caused a water supply crisis for the region. Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir, set record lows in recent months, threatening water supply for tens of millions of people.

“When the Earth doesn’t become farmable, the dependence in the livelihood that communities have on farming and on production of food, not only will the incomes be lost, but that food security will be lost,” said Vivek Shandas, a professor of climate adaptation and urban policy at Portland State University. “That ability to survive every day is lost. As humans, throughout history, we moved from places that are less habitable to places that are more attainable and habitable.” Food for thought?

In 1985 Queen performed at Live Aid in front of 72,000 people in Wembley Stadium.  The event was organized by Sir Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise funds for the Ethiopian famine disaster. It was seen by more than 40,000 viewers.  We must do more.  

“Adaptation” is finding ways to live with the change, because if nothing changes, nothing changes.  We have to put up some barriers or walls to withstand the rising sea levels.  New building codes to ensure our homes can withstand the extreme weather changes could help.  And connection, because connection is protection, and so we must reach out to others, our neighbors, other countries, and protect our environments together, for the good of humanity. 

  We are a society of ” more” and of “waste”, and until we come to grips that we need less and learn how to become less selfish in our needs and our wants, to learn how to practice gratitude for what we do have, we will self-destruct.