Climate talk shifts from curbing CO2 to adapting

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Posted on June 17, 2013
This May 10, 2013 file photo shows view of the Manhattan Bridge, left, and Brooklyn Bridge as seen from the 105th floor of One World Trade Center, in New York. Seven months after Superstorm Sandy swamped New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a nearly $20 billion plan Tuesday, June 11, 2013, to protect the city from the effects of global warming and storms. (AP photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

This May 10, 2013 file photo shows view of the Manhattan Bridge, left, and Brooklyn Bridge as seen from the 105th floor of One World Trade Center, in New York. Seven months after Superstorm Sandy swamped New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a nearly $20 billion plan Tuesday, June 11, 2013, to protect the city from the effects of global warming and storms. (AP photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Efforts to curb global warming have quietly shifted as greenhouse gases inexorably rise. The conversation is no longer solely about how to save the planet by cutting carbon emissions. It’s becoming more about how to save ourselves from the warming planet’s wild weather.

It was Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s announcement last week of an ambitious plan to stave off New York City’s rising seas with flood gates, levees and more that brought this transition into full focus.

After years of losing the fight against rising global emissions of heat-trapping gases, governments around the world are emphasizing what a U.N. Foundation scientific report calls “managing the unavoidable.”

It’s called adaptation and it’s about as sexy but as necessary as insurance, experts say.

It’s also a message that once was taboo among climate activists such as former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

In his 1992 book “Earth in the Balance,” Gore compared talk of adapting to climate change to laziness that would distract from necessary efforts.

But in his 2013 book “The Future,” Gore writes bluntly: “I was wrong.” He talks about how coping with rising seas and temperatures is just as important as trying to prevent global warming by cutting emissions.

Like Gore, government officials across the globe aren’t saying everyone should just give up on efforts to reduce pollution. They’re saying that as they work on curbing carbon emissions, they also have to deal with a reality that’s already here.

In March, President Barack Obama’s science advisers sent him a list of recommendations on climate change. No. 1 on the list: “Focus on national preparedness for climate change.”

“Whether you believe climate change is real or not is beside the point,” Bloomberg said in announcing his $20 billion adaptation plans. “The bottom line is: We can’t run the risk.”

Read more at: Phys.org