Adaptation to center stage

One of my favorite recent papers is by Michael Roberts and Wolfram Schlenker (regular readers may have noticed me regularly plugging it here, here, here, here, and here). Congrats to Michael and Wolfram on being mentioned prominently by The Economist in this week's long article on climate adaptation.

The entire article is pretty good and worth a read, particularly for its dogged effort to parse out climate impact and adaptation, and subsequent honesty where this proves impossible. For example:
Melissa Dell of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her colleagues argue that in developing countries GDP growth has been lower in hotter years than in cooler ones. This may carry over into longer-term increases in temperature. The mechanism is obscure: it may simply be that overheated people work less hard. That can be seen either as adaptation or as a worrying impact, slowing down the economic growth which is the surest foundation for other, more positive adaptations.
Not only is adaptation hard to distinguish from impact, investments in response are harder to classify:
Whereas investments in mitigation are fairly easy to understand—build windmills not coal-fired power stations, and so on—those in adaptation are harder to grasp. Action on climate bleeds into more general development measures.
The article overall is pessimistic
The fight to limit global warming to easily tolerated levels is thus over.
and while I wish I disagreed, and hold out for better-than-expected outcomes from Cancun this week, my inner skeptic and pragmatist are pushing me hard to shift focus - professional and personal - toward adaptation.

No comments:

Post a Comment