To What Extent Can Humans Adapt to Climate Change?


Some degree of adaptation will undoubtedly be necessary to respond to climate change that is already unavoidable. Depending on the rate and magnitude of climate change, humans can invest in infrastructure and other societal systems to ameliorate its consequences.

However, different regions and sectors will differ in their ability to adapt. Natural ecosystems have inherent, but limited capability to adapt to climate change, which is further impeded by other human impacts to the environment such as development and habitat fragmentation. Even human societies, particularly developing countries, have limited resources to respond to the challenge of climate change. Poor countries and poor populations within rich countries will be disproportionately impacted by climate change because of their limited resources for adaptation.

Some climate related impacts are difficult to adapt to. For example, extreme weather events, such as storms and floods, are not easily ameliorated by adaptation measures. By investing in the reduction of greenhouse gases, it will offset necessary investments in adaptation in addition to protecting against those adverse effects of climate change for which adaptation is particularly difficult. It isclear that responding to climate change requires both mitigation of greenhouse gases and adaptation to unavoidable change.

Source: Center for Climate and Energy Solutions


This article is part of an educational series on climate change. See related articles below.