Shop Windows to the Universe

Dig into Montana Before History: 11K Years of Hunter-Gatherers in the Rockies and Plains by D. H. MacDonald, Ph.D. See our online store book collection.
Triangle diagram from the IPCC Forth Assessment Report (chapter 18) describing the relationship between adaptation, mitigation, and inaction.
Courtesy of the IPCC AR4

Introduction to Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation

Introduction to Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation

The United Nations has identified two responses to climate change: mitigation of climate change by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and adaptation to the impacts of climate change.

Adaptation involves developing ways to protect people and places by reducing their vulnerability to climate impacts. For example, to protect against sea level rise and increased flooding, communities might build seawalls or relocate buildings to higher ground.

Mitigation involves attempts to slow the process of global climate change, usually by lowering the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Planting trees that absorb CO2 from the air and store it is an example of one such strategy.

Of course there is a third option – doing nothing.

This triangle diagram, from the IPCC Forth Assessment Report (chapter 18) sums the options up well. The corners of the triangle represent 100% of each of these three options. Areas in the middle of the triangle represent a combination of approaches. There are costs associated with mitigation and adaptation. However, notice that with no action, we are facing a high cost associated with climate impacts because we will be ill-prepared to deal with impacts.

Practically, we are unlikely to clean up the greenhouse gas situation entirely through mitigation efforts, thus, some adaptation will be necessary. Both adaptation and mitigation are essential to reduce the impacts of climate change. In this week of the course, you will explore adaptation and mitigation strategies that range from an individual, to local, national and global levels.

Last modified April 29, 2009 by Lisa Gardiner.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Cool It! is the new card game from the Union of Concerned Scientists that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change—and how policy and technology decisions made today will matter. Cool It! is available in our online store.

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

World Leaders Developing a New Plan to Help Earth’s Changing Climate

Leaders from 192 nations of the world are trying to make an agreement about how to limit emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, mitigate climate change, and adapt to changing environmental conditions....more

What is Climate?

Climate in your place on the globe is called regional climate. It is the average weather pattern in a place over more than thirty years, including the variations in seasons. To describe the regional climate...more

Earth's Greenhouse Gases

Less than 1% of the gases in Earth's atmosphere are called greenhouse gases. Even though they are not very abundant, these greenhouse gases have a major effect. Carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor (H2O),...more

Space Missions to study Earth's Atmosphere & Climate

Television weather forecasts in the space age routinely feature satellite views of cloud cover. Cameras and other instruments on spacecraft provide many types of valuable data about Earth's atmosphere...more

Modeling the Future of Climate Change

Predicting how our climate will change in the next century or beyond requires tools for assessing how planet responds to change. Global climate models, which are run on some of the world's fastest supercomputers,...more

Effects of Climate Change Today

The world's surface air temperature increased an average of 0.6° Celsius (1.1°F) during the last century according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This may not sound like very...more

What Controls the Climate?

A factor that has an affect on climate is called a “forcing.” Some forcings, like volcanic eruptions and changes in the amount of solar energy, are natural. Others, like the addition of greenhouse gases...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA