Climate change is here and is going to get worse before it gets better. Therefore, a pragmatic optimism needs to be adopted.
On November 6th in Minneapolis a few YES! staff members had the opportunity to join a conversation at the Climate Adaptation Conference on what it means to adopt this pragmatic optimism and understand what can be done to adapt to our changing climate. It is vital that we are mitigating its current effects but also preparing for what we know is coming. This kind of dynamic mitigation as stated by Steve Adams, Senior Program Director of The US Climate Adaptation Program, can be thought of as a continuum. At one end we have resistance where we are fighting climate change head-on, trying to reduce emissions and maintain the climate we have. At the other end there is transition where we start to make the changes in anticipation of the climate that will develop as we continue on our current trajectory. Then in the middle we have resilience!
People are beginning to realize that the impacts of climate change have already begun to manifest. Even with the measures that have been taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there are consequences that we have seen, and will see more of, in our lifetime. In the face of this we can be resilient! We can plan for, survive, recover from, and even prosper in our changing climate. As stated by many of the presenters at the conference, including Rebecca Montgomery, Professor with The Department of Forest Resources at the University of Minnesota, a warmer climate with higher average dew points is transpiring. We will most likely see more rain but this will occur as intense events such as the one seen in Duluth that washed out entire streets.
When society is influenced by outside forces or internally from reflection they are capable of great change in very little time. One would hope that we have the foresight to start to make changes that would fall under dynamic mitigation of climate change. These don’t have to be painful changes. For instance, if a school has a black roof that needs to be replaced it is equally economical to replace it with a white roof it is just as cheep to replace it with a white roof that will get much less hot during increasingly warm summers. Another consideration is with more rain falling but in shorter periods of time one might want to consider ways to store rain such as rain barrels placed under down spouts.
These are not inferior alternatives. These are changes that in many instances would need to be done anyway but we now have the knowledge, technology, and reason to make them in a way that can address climate change. At the same time, these adjusted technologies have similar, if not, superior function to their less eco-friendly predecessors.
YES! can and has done this. This post is not to persuade YES! students on the matter of climate change, but to arm them with a way of approaching issues so that they will see support in their endeavors and that in their work they see multiple layers of success.