Roger A. Pielke Sr.’s Perspective On Adaptation and Mitigation

There is considerable discussion on the relative roles of adaption and mitigation with respect to the findings in the 2007 IPCC report (e.g., see).  Thus, I have concluded that it is worthwhile to specifically define my views on this subject, as I did on the related subject of the human role within the climate system; see

Roger A. Pielke Sr.’s Perspective On The Role Of Humans In Climate Change

First, it needs to be emphasized that climate and energy policies, while there are overlaps, are distinctly different issues. As reported on Climate Science (e.g. see and see), the 2007 IPCC approach, and other related reports, are actually energy policy proposals cloaked in the guise of climate change.

Following is a short summary of my view on climate and energy policies with respect to adaptation and mitigation:

  • Climate policy in the past has been, with the limited exception of deliberate weather modification (see), focused on adaptation. Dams, zoning so as to limit habitation in flood plains, etc are examples of this adaptation. 
  • For the coming decades, adaptation still needs to be the primary approach. As reported in the 2005 National Research Council report (Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties) the human influence on the climate system involves a diverse range of forcings. Thus, a focus on controlling the emissions of carbon dioxide by itself (i.e. mitigation) is an inadequate approach for an effective climate policy.
  • Energy policy, however, clearly must emphasize an active management policy since a vibrant economy and society requires energy. However, all energy sources are not the same in terms of how they affect the environment and their availability. For example, the dependence of the United States, Europe and other countries on oil from politically unstable regions of the world needs to be eliminated.
  • The current focus of the IPCC and others on climate change with their emphasis on global warming, as a guise to promote energy policy, therefore, is an erroneous and dishonest approach to communicate energy policy to policymakers and the public. The optimal energy policy requires expertise and assessments that involves a much broader community than the climate science profession.

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