|Rebuilding dunes along the Jersey shore as an adaptation of sea-level rise|
The Harvard archaeologist, Dr.Jason Ur, told NASA that “When we excavate the remains of past civilizations, we very rarely find any evidence that they as a whole society made any attempts to change in the face of a drying climate, a warming atmosphere or other changes… I view this inflexibility as the real reason for collapse.
he is talking about the ancient Mayan, Khmer, and Minoan empires along with others who had no way to understand or act in the face of a changing climate. We have options that they did not have - if we decide to act.
If you have heard the terms “mitigation” and “adaptation” used in a climate context you still might not know the difference between these two approaches. The climaterealityproject.org blog has a good post about the distinction.
Adaptation is addressing the effect rather than the cause of a problem. For example, seas are already rising around the world and certainly along our Atlantic coast. Scientists project that the cities and land currently home to as many as 110 million people could be underwater at high tide by 2050 if current emissions continue.
Building homes along the Jersey shore on pilings and putting in pumping stations to get rid of water on streets, as well as building or rebuilding sand dunes are all adaptations. They don't address the problem of rising sea levels.
Building sea walls, elevating infrastructure, or retreating from low-lying coastal areas altogether. In the U.S., for example, cities like Charleston, Houston, Miami, and San Francisco (to name a few) already have billion-dollar investments planned to protect their sea-bound populations.
Mitigation means addressing the root cause of the problem rather than dealing with its effects. In our example, mitigation would be human intervention to reduce the causes of sea-level rise, such as reducing sources of greenhouse gases”.
Replacing greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas with clean, renewable energies like solar, wind, and geothermal. With renewables becoming “the cheapest form of new electricity generation across two thirds of the world” in 2019 (compared to in just 1 percent of the world five years ago), this measure has quickly gone from a dream to an everyday reality.
Obviously, adaptation is a short-term solution and mitigation is long-term. There aren't always things an individual can do to make significant mitigations. Most of those solutions need to be done by cities, states, and countries. Driving my hybrid car is a very small mitigation.
Both approaches are needed.
If you have rainwater coming into your basement, you will need to bail out the water and possibly seal a crack in the foundation. That's adaptation. You can't stop the rain, but if the problem stems from water pooling up outside your home, then mitigation might mean changing gutters and downspouts to move water away from the foundation, sloping your soil away from the foundation and installing drains.
As the article states:
The truth is, we’ve reached a point where no single one of these paths will get us to a truly just and livable future.
As the IPCC made clear in a recent report: “Many adaptation and mitigation options can help address climate change, but no single option is sufficient by itself. Effective implementation depends on policies and cooperation at all scales and can be enhanced through integrated responses that link mitigation and adaptation.”