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November 12, 2012 12:30 PM Real and Rhetorical Climate Adaptation

By James Wimberley

Joe Romm nails it:

The only people who will pursue real adaptation are those who understand the latest science and are prepared to take serious political action based on that understanding. [….] But if you accepted the science, you’d obviously pursue mitigation as your primary strategy, while using some of the proceeds from the climate bill to support adaptation.[…] Fundamentally, massive prevention plus lots of adaptation (and some misery) is much, much, much cheaper than not bloody much prevention and incomprehensible amounts of adaptation and suffering and misery.

He’s also bang on here:

Real adaptation requires much bigger and far more intrusive government than mitigation.

Can you see a decision whether to build massive levees round Miami or evacuate it being taken by the antique checks-and-balances clockwork of the US constitution? War powers is more like it.

Romm doesn’t say so, but the third possible response to climate breakdown – geoengineering – is even less compatible with democracy, or even the current international state system. It would necessarily be an act of unaccountable and non-consensual technocratic world government, a desperate Roman dictatorship with Hannibal at the gates.

Any genuine conservatives still out there should support crash mitigation – say zero net carbon emissions in 20 years – as the only course compatible with democracy and the free market.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-based Community]

James Wimberley was head of the mutual assistance section of the department of education for the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, and secretary to the Councilís higher education and research committee. He is retired.