Current adaptation measures do not reduce the risks of the climate crisis
It is a reality, society already experiences the effects of environmental stress what causes the climate change in an increasingly frequent and serious way. At the same time, little progress is being made in reducing carbon emissions. What can be done in this scenario? Science is clear, adapt or die.
However, an international network of 126 male and female experts has published a study in Nature Communications where they alert that the measures of adaptation taken around the world do not lead to the goals we need to secure our future. Therefore, the risk posed by the climate crisis is not reduced.
The conclusions are clear, the adaptation actions, as documented in the scientific literature, are mostly fragmented, local and non-transforming. Furthermore, they are carried out primarily by individuals and in households, rather than being comprehensive, coordinated and coherent efforts by communities and institutions.
Today, adaptation measures are fragmented, local and non-transformative
However, experts from the Center for Ecological Research and Forest Applications (BEST), who participate in this work, show that there are examples of adaptation actions that do work. Experts insist that they should be implemented by the competent administrations on a larger scale, to strongly promote adaptation and reduction of vulnerability.
The study analyzes more than 48,000 articles published around the world where 1,686 results of adaptation measures to climate change are presented. With them, the team has analyzed what actions we have really taken to adapt, and if they are successful or not.
The work finds very little evidence that current adaptation efforts actually decrease risk.
Its main author, Lea Berrang Ford, of the Priestley International Center for Climate at the University of Leeds, explains: “Our results are a wake-up call, we have found very little evidence that humanity is prepared generally, quickly and on a sufficient scale to, in our opinion, avoid serious climate impacts.”
“The publication of the article is very timely, right at the beginning of the Glasgow Climate Summit (COP26). The Paris Agreement It commits the parties participating in the COP to follow how society and governments move towards adaptation, but until this study little was known about the real scope of adaptation measures ”, he comments. Josep Peñuelas, research professor at the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) in CREAF.
We have found very little evidence that humanity is prepared broadly, quickly and on a sufficient scale to avoid severe climate impacts.
Lea Berrang Ford, lead author
What climatic risks move us?
Research determines that many adaptation actions arise motivated by specific dangers in each area of the world: drought, extreme rainfall, floods, o la rainfall variabilityhave been the most frequent examples.
Actions are mainly focused on implementing new forms of agriculture and food systems (especially in Africa and Asia), in the obligation to prepare the infrastructure for floods, both inland and on the coast, in applying new building codes or in developing hazard maps and warning systems. early warning (especially in Europe).
In cities around the world, flooding and Rising sea levels they are promoters of adaptation measures. Finally, the extreme heat it is a very common factor to which adaptation measures are taken in most regions of the world.
Some of the measures that are carried out are: new forms of agriculture, infrastructures against floods and early warning systems
The study concludes that responses occur at multiple levels of social organization, from farmers to urban households, from water, electricity, transportation companies, to international institutions. However, the vast majority of responses documented in academic literature are carried out the local scale, and almost always in homes and by individuals in particular (82% of all articles).
Responses by household or individual focus on measures of food, health and poverty, especially in Africa and Asia. For example, studies in Ghana and Uganda show measures to cope with drought that include from changes in crops, until the migration of people. Other local actions focus on education, urban agriculture, water reservoirs, or the adaptation of tourism.
Diana Pascual and Anabel Sanchez, CREAF scientists reflect on these results: “Adaptation measures usually have a local implementation scope and, in fact, they are more effective that way. However, it is true that regional and national strategies would have to be proposed to promote adaptation actions to many more places, and to generalize their use so that effects can be seen on larger scales ”.
Berrang-Ford et al. A systematic global stocktake of evidence on human adaptation to climate change. Nature Communications 2021.
Rights: Creative Commons.