The Need to Adapt to Climate Change

Every country in the world has a need to adapt to climate change, as extreme weather events are already affecting people’s lives

People will need to adapt their lifestyles as the climate changes.  The IPCC report referred to above (, the IPCC, 2018: Summary for Policymakers, recommends limiting the rise in global temperature above pre-industrial levels to 1.5°C – but it acknowledges that some adaptation will be necessary even if that target is met:

“Some vulnerable regions, including small islands and Least Developed Countries, are projected to experience high multiple interrelated climate risks even at global warming of 1.5°C (high confidence).” (Section B6.2)

A Cornell University study in April 2021 shows that changes are already visible: “Farmers in warmer parts of the world have been hit hard as conditions grow more arid, but sub-polar regions in Canada or Siberia are now actually better for agriculture because they are not as cold as they used to be”.  But the overall effect of climate change has been harmful: “global warming has knocked 21 percent off of global agriculture productivity growth since 1965”.

It is not only farmers who need to adapt to climate change.  The BBC quoted a report which found that “The UK is woefully unprepared to deal with changes occurring to the climate, government advisers say”, warning of “more severe heatwaves, especially in big cities, and more intense rainfall, with an increased flood risk across most of the UK”.  The report recommends that “homes, infrastructure and services must be made resilient to floods, heat and humid nights”.  The UK is not alone in facing such problems.  The United States Isn’t Ready for the New Phase of Climate Change, according to a Foreign Affairs report, and other developed economies are likely to be in a similar situation.

Every country in the world must adapt, but poorer countries (whose past carbon emissions have been lower than those in developed economies) may not be able to afford the costs; they may need help from The World Bank.  There is a strong economic argument for providing them with financial support to erect defences against rising sea levels, and adapt the way they live, if their inhabitants are to avoid the need to migrate to somewhere else.  The habitable parts of the planet already have occupants and it isn’t easy to absorb migration.



This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/3573a.htm