This post is a follow up to this post: [http://transcendingsquare.com/2016/05/20/climate-change-is-real-exxon-knew-all-along/]
The 2015 agreement for a global response to climate change was drafted in Paris last year with a group representing 197 countries. As of May 21, 2016, seventeen of the nations represented in 2015 have ratified the agreement.
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC): [http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9485.php]
The plan doesn’t use the word transition or the word plan but the words it uses suggests transition planning is a goal. Mitigation is the word used to represent work designed to directly cope with environmental destruction or changes resulting from climate change such as flooding caused by melting glaciers or by sea level rise or by increased hurricane activity. Adaptation is the word used to represent work designed to cope with the changing climate such as developing more heat tolerant crops. And resilience is the word used to describe how capable a community might be when facing a severe weather event. Financing insurance coverage to help offset costs of weather related damage is a suggestion for improving a community’s resilience.
Jargon and insurance coverage can only help to a certain extent, eventually someone has to get out in the field and shovel sand into sandbags for flood barriers or shovel debris out of the glacial lake drainage channel. And eventually a community’s insurance company (or insuring nation) needs to say sorry we will only provide flood insurance for this community is you are insuring a houseboat or cyclone resistant raft. Break-walls are helpful for protecting a community from occasional wave damage in turbulent weather but if the turbulent weather is occurring every year and the high tide is flooding roads then mitigation, adaptation and resilience might all have to move inland/upland a little farther.
I wrote about cherries in a recent post primarily because that is a crop and topic that is not naturally resilient and for the industry to survive it will need to adapt to the climate changes that are happening rather than just mitigate storm damage. Trees can be pruned after a bad storm to reduce losses but if all the season’s buds are frozen after an early thaw followed by a freezing weather event then there is no crop and only crop insurance left (if financially resilient). Eventually the bank or farmer has to to get fed up with the annual risk and plant new crops that are less risky. I also wrote about cherries because they are a crop that is important within my region and one that I’ve experience with planting transitionally – in a region on the edge of the zones typically used for the crop.
Being willing to experiment and having some experience with farms and orchards played a role in my life many years ago when I first relocated to an area far in the north of the U.S.. Lack of sunshine and summertime were significant changes for me. And I spent a fair amount of time studying greenhouse designs when I first moved but I never had the budget to do more than make cold frame shelters for planting earlier in the spring. However I also looked into types of fruits and berries that might grow well in the climate, and planted a few different varieties. Semi-hardy cherry trees have continued to do well in my yard, while a semi-hardy dwarf peach and nectarine tree did well for a few years and then were frozen one harsh spring.
Climate change has been happening and people’s lives and careers are being permanently affected. The words we use to cope with change are important and talking about making changes is important but actually making changes is also important. Not ratifying the agreement that was reached by 197 nations will only continue to reduce the time we have to plan ahead and make resilient and adaptive changes instead of waiting for devastation to occur and performing mitigation after the fact.
So is it sad to think about the local Cherry Capital having to become the local peach or nectarine capital instead? Yes, it is kind of sad, but it seems more sad to think about having no cherries at all, so planting cherry trees farther north seems prudent whether it is called a mitigation strategy or an adaptive one. It does seem like it would be more resilient to have cherry orchards in a larger number of growing areas so that a severe weather event in one area might not affect the orchards in a slightly different area.
Any way you look at it, having cherry trees in the backyard is nicer than having a glacial lake or 50’C/122’F weather. We as a species need to recognize that our planet is our permanent home and unless we take better care of it, the planet will not be able to continue supporting us in the style to which some of us have become accustomed. Many parts of the world still don’t have electricity or running water for showers or drinking. Insurance policies can’t guarantee that electricity and running water will always be available just because it has been available in the past — not if the region becomes significantly different whether from storm damage or sea level rise or increased average daily temperatures, an insurance company can’t insure against permanent changes.
A community in Sweden is planning ahead where change due to human activity has become a significant risk. The whole town is moving citizens to a new location 3.2 kilometers farther down the road. The town is built over an iron mine which has excavated so much area from the ground under the town that the buildings and infrastructure are sinking. Starting over in a new location before a calamity occurs makes more sense than having to try to retrieve property from a building that has become located at the bottom of a sinkhole. [http://www.sciencealert.com/sweden-is-relocating-an-entire-city-to-stop-it-sinking-into-the-ground]
Moving while moving trucks are still useful is an adaptive change, moving once your property is in the bottom of a sinkhole would be mitigation after a calamity. Resilience might be shown during adaptation or mitigation but more lives and property might be saved if changes occur as adaptation rather than waiting until mitigation is necessary. Moving from a floodplain before a severe flood would be adaptation, building a house on stilts or a cyclone tolerant raft would be adaptive. Buying flood insurance might be financially resilient for the first few floods but eventually an insurance company or nation that tries to insure against flooding in a floodplain would have to realize that that is a loser’s bet and insurance is a game for gamblers rather than for long-term planners.
I’m not suggesting that I’m an expert in planning mitigation efforts or cherry plantations just that I’m a human who cares about the long term health of the planet. Quibbling about who is at fault is important for helping to identify activities that are adding to the problem and that need to be stopped or modified to be less destructive. Quibbling about blame may be a strategy to try to avoid accepting responsibility for cost of mitigation repairs or adaptive changes but eventually change happens whether it is insured against or not.
/Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./