Dealing with climate change: mitigation and adaptation

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Global warming - natural or not?

  • The Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) believes that the influence human activity is overwhelming, their evidence is 
  • The increase in global temperatures coincides with the increase in greenhouse gas emissions
  • If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise the Arctic ice will melt (which has already begun)
  • Natural processes could not have produced all the changes taking process

What are the choices?

  • There are two main ways to deal with global warming - mitigation and adaptation 
  • Policies (such as the Kyoto Protical in 1997) reduce or prevent further global warming are referred to as mitigation stratagies. These attempt to reduce the amount of carbon emissions and finding ways of dealing with excess greenhouse gases
  • Yet, CO2 has a life of 100 years so policies that deal with the now and needed. The world has to cope with the impacts that are already occuring, these are known as adaptation
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Pro-mitigation

Pro-mitigation

  • Emissions have to be reduce immediately if the world is to avoid irreversible climate change - enviromentalists say that adaptation policies waste time as the world should concentrate on difusing the root problem: emission of greenhouse gases
  • Adaptation policies are supported by those who believe in the "fossil fuel society", so that "business as usual" continues. Unless this is challeneged, change will never happen
  • Carbon sinks (anything that absorbs more CO2 than radiates) can easily be achieved with the government planting trees (sidenote: trees give off more CO2 in their first 10 years of life than absorb)
  • Cutting emissions in the developed economies (transport, off-shore wind farms) is politically acceptable and gains support, so this should be encouraged more
  • Cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the growing economies, who are the biggest polluters (China and India) as the developed worlds emissions are falling whilst these couontries amount of pollution is increasing
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Pro-adaptation

  • It will take a long time to get all countries to agree to reduce carbon emissions
  • To purswade countries to agree to lower the amount of emissions, it must get worse before it gets better, we have to learn to cope when it gets worse
  • Even if we cut down on what we emit today, CO2 has a life of 100 years - we have to cope with these century long problems
  • Keeping greenhouse gases the same or even below current standards is unrealistic, with the emerging economies ever-growing it is bond to increase
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