5 ways we need to adapt to climate change — or pay the price

To avoid the worst consequences of global warming,
report
after
report
has stressed the importance of cutting emissions. But
with unusually intense weather events wreaking havoc all over the
world — from
Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas
to
heat waves in Europe
— new findings suggest that the world
needs to devote an equally urgent effort to adapt to the changes
that are already on the horizon.

The 81-page report,
released Tuesday by the Global Commission on Adaptation, argues
that big investments in adaptation measures will not only avert
environmental catastrophe but also reap significant returns:
Researchers found an investment of $1.8 trillion from 2020 to 2030
could generate $7.1 trillion in total net benefits.

“Mitigation and adaptation are actually two sides of the very
same coin,” Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of
the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and a
member of the adaptation commission, told the
AP
. “If we delay mitigation any further we will never be able
to adapt sufficiently to keep humanity safe. And if we delay
adaptation we will pay such a high price that we would never be
able to look at ourselves in the mirror.”

So what kind of adaptation measures are we talking about? The
new report recommends five specific areas in which to invest.

Early warning systems

Early warning systems are technologies that can accurately
forecast when a storm, heatwave, or other adverse weather event is
incoming. According to the report, just 24 hours’ warning can
reduce the resulting damage by 30 percent, and investing $800
million in such systems in developing countries would prevent
$3–16 billion per year in losses.

Climate-resilient infrastructure

The report’s authors suggest that upgrading living conditions
in vulnerable communities — which might mean improving housing,
water, sanitation, drainage, and waste management — will build
resilience and strengthen their adaptive capacity. More
climate-resilient infrastructure adds about 3 percent to upfront
costs but provides $4 in benefits for every $1 of cost.

Improved dryland agriculture

Investing in drought-resistant crops and modernizing irrigation
systems could help protect small-scale farms from rising
temperatures. If nothing is done, the report says, global crop
yields could shrink by 30 percent by mid-century.

Mangrove protection

Mangroves — trees that grow in coastal swamps — reduce the
impact of storm surges that threaten coastal communities. According
to the report, mangrove forests prevent more than $80 billion per
year in losses from coastal flooding and protect 18 million people.
They also contribute just over $40 billion annually to sustain
local fisheries. (Incidentally, mangrove forests are also
an incredible natural carbon sink
.)

Making water resources more resilient

Investing in water infrastructure and natural watersheds could
expand access to clean water. Today, 3.6 billion people don’t
have enough water for at least one month out of the year. Failing
to act could expose an additional 1.4 billion people to water
shortages by 2050.

Who’s gonna foot the bill for all this, you may ask? The
report recommends a combination of public sector, private sector,
and international financial support in developing countries, though
it adds that “money is not flowing at the pace or scale
needed.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline
5 ways we need to adapt to climate change — or pay the price

on Sep 10, 2019.

Source: FS – All – Science – News
5 ways we need to adapt to climate change — or pay the price