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Managing Climate Change
Adaptive Capacity: the extent to which a system can cope with climate change. In human systems it
depends on available human physical and financial resources.
Climate vulnerability: the degree to which a natural or human system lack the ability to cope with
climate change. Vulnerability is a result of the magnitude of the change, its speed of onset, the
sensitivity of the system and its adaptive capacity.
Mitigation or adaptation?
Mitigation mean reducing the output of greenhouse gases and increasing the size of greenhouse gas
sinks. I.e. targets to reduce emissions, switching to renewable energy sources, capturing carbon
emissions from power stations and storing them.
Adaptation means changing the lifestyles to cope with new environment rather than trying to stop
climate change. I.e. managed retreats of coastlines vulnerable to sea level rise, developing drought
resistant crops, enlarge conservation areas to allow shifting of habitat zones.
For human systems i.e. the economy, mitigation could involve an upfront cost, to reduce
atmospheric pollution to `safe' levels. Adaptation might mean costs were more gradual and
spread over time.
For natural systems like ecosystems, mitigation could limit damage. Some ecosystems may
not be able to `adapt' and could lead to death and my cause extinction.
Wealthy countries may have the adequate resources to adapt to climate change. Poorer countries do
not (low adaptive capacity). Ways to increase adapt capacity:
I. Reducing poverty to meet costs of adaptation
II. Increasing access to resources including energy and materials
III. Improving health care malnutrition, malaria and HIV/AIDS
IV. Improving infrastructure such as roads, energy supply and communication
V. Improving education and skills to develop understanding.
The ability to adapt is linked to the level of development of a country or area.
Adaptation is usually only locally linked, however mitigation can be local or globally.
Local agencies (local councils) decide on actions needed. E.g. the UK government target is for 30% of
domestic waste to be recycled by 2010. This is one way to reduce waste to meet the Kyoto Protocol
target. The government funds advertising but local councils provide recycling bins, boxes and skips.
Key Players in Climate Change
Businesses argued that reducing pollution would cost money,
profits and jobs. TNCs such as Exxon, Shell, BP and Ford all funded
the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) between 1989 and 2002. This
opposed the action on climate change and funded research to
counter the warnings about global warming. However companies
began to leave to group and now all of these companies find
themselves trying to find ways of becoming `greener'. This is
because of factors such as:
Moral and public pressure to protect and not destroy the
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Fears about energy supply
Increased moves by governments towards taxing carbon emissions
Demands from investors, such as pensions funds, for companies to become environment
Renewable energy, hybrid cars and energy efficient appliance, which represent new markets
The stern review concluded that it was more sensible to invest in mitigation today than `do nothing'
and face the costs of at least 5% and possibly 20% if global annual GDP.…read more
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Switching your energy supplier to one using renewable sources
Energy efficiency in the home, such as using energy efficient light bulbs.
Switching every light bulb in London to energy efficient ones would save 575,000 tonnes of CO2
emissions every year.
However issues with it are, that asking everyone to reduce their emissions, while some people may
have already low carbon footprint than the average.…read more