I am currently working on adaptation to climate change and would appreciate a bit of feedback. I find feedback can be useful, if only to get me out of the ivory tower.
A brief background: When addressing climate change the popular idea is to reduce carbon emissions through a carbon tax, cap-and-trade or regulations. However focusing on emission reductions alone:
- Ignores the political difficulties of trying to reduce emissions. Regions that rely heavily on coal use are not going to be in favor of reducing its use or paying extra to use it, see the chart. Notice that states like California or Washington, which are trying to reduce their emissions independently, don’t use much coal anyway to meet their energy needs and would be minimally harmed by a carbon tax.
- Reductions today would not address the climate change that will occur even if we stopped all emissions today. Even if
We therefore need to adapt to climate change. We can adapt:
- Individually by adopting technologies (e.g. air conditioning) or migrating to locations we expect to have better climates.
- At the urban level by investing in the necessary infrastructure (e.g. seawalls to counter sea level rises), or by allowing cities to ‘move’ by letting old buildings deteriorate and focusing new development inland or building up near the coasts depending on local conditions.
- At the (inter)national level by sharing technical information.
Economics, my home field, has plenty to say about the above three forms of adaptation. It is however lacking in discussing cultural adaptation.
For example, in Spain and other Mediterranean countries, it is customary to take a long mid-afternoon break to take a long lunch at home or take a nap. To compensate for this break work may end later than is customary elsewhere, and family-friendly social life is active well into the late evening. This custom was transplanted, to varying degrees, in Latin America; I am most familiar with the Mexican version due to family stories and personal experience. This custom helps to avoid working during the hottest time of the day and shifts activity towards the cooler part of the day. My understanding is that a similar custom exists in the warmer southeast Asian countries, but my personal knowledge is limited.
Are there any other examples of cultural adaptation to climate change that my fellow note writers can think of? Examples don’t need to be in regard to contemporary climate change and can be adaptations that took place during the Medieval Warm Period, the Little Ice Age, etc etc.
US States by % of Electricity Produced from Coal.
Source: The U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2013.
Note: Rhode Island, Vermont, and D.C. excluded due to minimal coal use for electricity production.