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Will adapting to climate change be harder than preventing it?

March 20, 2009 9:00 AM

George Monbiot's latest column in The Guardian, on how it will be a lot hard to adapt to climate change than to prevent it, should be compulsory reading for all Green Liberal Democrats...

"Quietly in public, loudly in private, climate scientists everywhere are saying the same thing: it's over. The years in which more than two degrees of global warming could have been prevented have passed, the opportunities squandered by denial and delay. On current trajectories we'll be lucky to get away with four degrees. Mitigation (limiting greenhouse gas pollution) has failed; now we must adapt to what nature sends our way. If we can.

"This, at any rate, was the repeated whisper at the climate change conference in Copenhagen last week. It's more or less what Bob Watson, the environment department's chief scientific adviser, has been telling the British government. It is the obvious if unspoken conclusion of scores of scientific papers. Recent work by scientists at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, for example, suggests that even global cuts of 3% a year, starting in 2020, could leave us with four degrees of warming by the end of the century. At the moment emissions are heading in the opposite direction at roughly the same rate. If this continues, what does it mean? Six? Eight? Ten degrees? Who knows?

"Faced with such figures, I can't blame anyone for throwing up his hands. But before you succumb to this fatalism, let me talk you through the options..."

[Read more here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/mar/17/monbiot-copenhagen-emission-cuts]