Climate change is considered a major environmental issue. Conventional wisdom suggests that it will be devastating for the environment and humanity, and that ‘climate control’, through agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol, is the only way to address it. But a new book, Adapt or Die: The Science, Politics and Economics of Climate Change**, challenges the view that climate change will be catastrophic, and that “climate control” is necessary.
13 expert contributors argue that policymakers should focus on strategies to enhance society’s ability to adapt to climate change. As world leaders gather for the COP-9 meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Milan, Italy (1-12 December, 2003), Adapt or Die proposes constructive alternatives to climate control which would enable humanity to cope with negative impacts of climate change without excessive costs.
“Attempts to control the climate through restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions would have little effect on the earth’s climate, but would harm our ability to adapt to climate change by slowing economic growth and diverting resources into inappropriate uses,” says the book’s editor, Kendra Okonski, Director of the Sustainable Development Project at International Policy Network, a London-based NGO.
“To deal with climate change, we should adopt policies that promote human wellbeing both today and in the future,” explains Okonski. “We could do this today by eliminating disease and poverty, developing new technologies, and reducing humanity’s vulnerability to climate change. In contrast, the Kyoto Protocol requires huge expenditures today for negligible benefits in the far future.”
Under the Kyoto Protocol, parties would restrict emissions of carbon dioxide in the hope that this might mitigate global warming. Yet it is increasingly clear that Kyoto has costs with no benefits, and it is unlikely ever to come into force. Signatories are therefore searching for alternatives that will achieve the goals of the UNFCCC, without burdening the world with unnecessary costs.
The book’s 13 experts include, amongst others, Dr. Benny Peiser of Liverpool John Moores University (UK), Dr. Paul Reiter of the Pasteur Institut (France), and Julian Morris, Visiting Professor at the University of Buckingham. They tackle the science, politics and economics of global warming, showing that:
– The Kyoto Protocol and other attempts at climate control will not achieve the desired end of mitigating climate change or preventing negative consequences from global warming. – The victims of such policies would be European consumers and taxpayers, and people in poor countries. – Such policies are extremely expensive, and the desired ends could be achieved in a more just and cost effective manner. – To reduce the effects of global warming for people everywhere, we should focus on reducing vulnerability to climate change today. This means eliminating disease and poverty, enhancing access to existing and new technologies, and improving infrastructure. – Adaptation to climate change is fostered by policies that promote certainty, flexibility, and decentralised responsibility. – The benefits of an adaptation strategy for climate change would
spill over to other, as yet unknown future problems that will be encountered by humanity.
**Adapt or Die: The science, politics and economics of climate change Edited by Kendra Okonski, Published by Profile Books, London ISBN 1 86197 795-6
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