• Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.


This mountain won't come to Muhammad

Why, even at this late date, we need to mitigate, not just survive, climate change.

November 22, 2013

There's always been a relatively quiet "we'll just adapt" thread in discussions around climate change.  Of late, it's become more prominent due to the increasingly common conviction that we've either already pushed the planet past its tipping point or gotten so close, and built up so much momentum, that it's a done deal.

Elements in the business community are getting ready to fulfill the need for adaptive materials and technology, knowing that there's more money to be made by reacting to a crisis than by averting one.

But . . .

The problem with the "we'll just adapt" stance, of course, is that . . . ummm . . . nobody has any concrete idea of just how to do that.  And folks who have tried in any serious way -- even on a small scale -- have found out (at least in part) just how difficult and expensive adaptation is likely to prove.  (An interesting piece on one expert's efforts is here.)

So, as much as it might be convenient to say that reversing our impacts on the climate is impossible, the alternative course of adaptation seems even more impossible.  Social norms and expectations are difficult to change, but laws of physics are far more so.

Regardless of the reason(s) Muhammad can't or won't go to the mountain, the reasons the mountain can't and won't come to Muhammad are far more convincing.


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