Posted by: ericgrimsrud | November 4, 2014

Adaptation, Mitigation, and the 2014 IPCC Report

In addressing the impacts of climate change, the Business-As-Usual forces tend to favor adaptation to the impacts of climate change rather than eliminating the causes of climate change (otherwise known as the “mitigation” of climate change).  The BAU forces prefer adaptation over mitigation, of course, because adaptation, alone, allows them to continue to emit CO2 as before by the continued use of fossil fuels – while one of the main means of mitigation is to greatly reduce our emissions of CO2 by greatly reducing our use of fossil fuels for energy production.

In a recent post (see it at, I provided a reference to a spokesperson for the BAU crowd and will do so again here so that you can assess the logic (or lack of) that argument for yourself.  That spokesperson was Terry Anderson, the President of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) in Bozeman, MT. The speech I am referring to can be heard at  The tenure and even the title of Dr. Anderson’s speech is “Adapt, Adapt’, Adapt: Market Responses to Climate Change”.

I would next like to relate what the most recent report of the IPCC (see it at said about adaptation and remediation.  It says that adaptation can, indeed, play a key role in decreasing the risks associated with climate change: “Adaptation is so important because it can be integrated with the pursuit of development, and can help prepare for the risks to which we are already committed by past emissions and existing infrastructure.”

However, it also points our that adaptation alone is not enough. Substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions are at the core of limiting the risks of climate change. And since mitigation reduces the rate as well as the magnitude of warming, it also increases the time available for adaptation to a particular level of climate change, potentially by several decades.

The IPCC report goes on to say that there are multiple mitigation pathways to achieve the substantial emissions reductions over the next few decades necessary to limit global warming to 2ºC  – the goal that has been set by numerous governments. However, the IPCC report finds that delaying additional mitigation to 2030 will substantially increase the technological, economic, social and institutional challenges associated with limiting the warming over the 21st century to below 2ºC relative to pre-industrial levels.

In short, all of this makes clear that the new and current definition of what we could call the modern Climate Change Denier is one who promotes adaptation only. According to the best and most comprehensive science organization of the world, adaptation alone is a recipe for a level of global environmental degradation that no one would want their descendants to have to adapt to. Can one even hope that the BAU forces of America can come to understand soon what I have just said here?. Time for effective mitigation is waning.

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