Global warming mitigation and adaptation

As several people have observed, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report favors mitigation over adaptation. Read for example here,

“…the IPCC continuously tries to deemphasize the importance of adaptation as development, for instance writing that,

there are formidable environmental, economic, informational, social, attitudinal and behavioural barriers to implementation of adaptation.

Of course the exact same thing could be said about mitigation (but is not said), and by contrast the IPCC always frames mitigation in a positive light:

Many impacts can be avoided, reduced or delayed by mitigation.”

Mitigation favors global solutions such as the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. It favors states, international organizations, and international bureaucracies. Mitigation is based on a belief that a central elite can set the rules and manage away our problems, it is managerialism.

In contrast, adaptation is local. The power to act must therefore be with local people, not with international organizations. The best way of empowering local people so that they can adapt is to make them prosperous. That means economic opportunities. An emphasis on adaptation therefore leads to radically different policies. These policies would not necessarily lead to an increase in power and funding for international organizations.

Of course we also need mitigation, but the present bias against adaptation only makes sense if we assume that it is in the nature of bureaucracies to want to accumulate money and power.


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