One thing that stands out about so many of these voicemails? Even in futures that aren’t quite like what we know today – even ones that have clearly experienced some big changes – people adapt. They keep going. They figure out new ways to live and thrive.
That inspired me to dig back into that sobering IPCC report (see my previous post on that) and noticed: It’s also all about adaptation! Let me point out three things that give me hope:
1. The IPCC notes that “the number of scientific publications available for assessing climate-change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability more than doubled between 2005 and 2010, with especially rapid increases in publications related to adaptation.” This means that the scientific community is rising to the challenge of climate change. For a long time, studying climate adaptation was considered taboo. But happily, there is now serious scientific energy going toward exploring potential ways of dealing with climate change.
2. The IPCC report finds that governments and communities around the world are also waking up to this challenge. These two statements from page 8 of the Summary for Policy Makers (PDF) are reason for optimism: “Adaptation is becoming embedded in some planning processes, with more limited implementation of responses (high confidence)…. Adaptation experience is accumulating across regions in the public and private sector and within communities (high confidence). Governments at various levels are starting to develop adaptation plans and policies and to integrate climate-change considerations into broader development plans.”
3. One of the lead authors of the report, Chris Field, made a great point during an interview on NPR. In adapting to climate change, he said, “a lot of the smartest things to do are things that we should be doing anyhow.” In other words, the things we can do to enhance our resilience to climate change may be beneficial in all sorts of ways that extend beyond climate change.
So, yes, the latest science is pointing to serious challenges. But it’s also showing us a positive way forward in dealing with them – and so many of our FutureVoicemails back up that this is happening.