During the Younger Dryas period, that rate of abrupt change led to animal extinctions and damages that imperiled the health of established human societies. However, most human societies found ways to adapt and they refined their ways to find water and grow food.
How Will Humans of Today Adapt to Climate Change?
Bob Silberg, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, says that a two-degree Celsius increase would be a big problem. It would create wide-reaching ecosystem changes and specifically affect the health of our coral reefs, which were once a buffer against hurricane storm surges.
Now, we can’t say that an abrupt climate change scenario will make Earth resemble the new Ice Age as portrayed in the movie, “A Day After Tomorrow.” Even though this film and many others like it are based on science to a degree, the timing of the disaster in “A Day After Tomorrow” was accelerated for dramatic effect.
However, we do have records and countless visuals of the reality of climate chaos in the form of more intense hurricanes.
The Climate Change Debate Is Moot. Climate Change Is Here
After seeing three intense September hurricanes in the Atlantic, we should ask ourselves if we want to continue the climate change debate while we await confirmation of whether climate change is natural or human-induced. Real climate change concerns families, lives, properties, businesses and shared infrastructure. How long do we have to convert our gray infrastructures to green and hurricane-resilient infrastructures before we face another catastrophe?
Determining whether climate change is real or even human-induced is moot. The main purpose of this cause-effect determination is to figure out who is responsible and how much governments and companies around the world should pay to other countries, small businesses and communities that are more immediately affected by climate change.
Most climate change deniers’ arguments are becoming null and void. The climate is changing. Policymakers, advocates, scientists and visionaries are pushing the cause-effect link to justify spending funds on climate mitigation and adaptation.
However, now that we are in the era of climate change effects, Earth’s system of redistributing heat is shifting our focus more toward climate change adaptation, rather than mitigation. The immediate goal of climate change mitigation – preventing future climate change – is gradually becoming irrelevant.
Better Centralized Systems Are Needed to Cope with Intense Natural Disasters and Climate Change
Climate change mitigation and adaptation are now more about self-reliance, self-sufficiency and the survival of human societies. Self-reliance in the face of intense natural disasters and gradual life-changing climate change will mean the creation of better systems to provide water, energy and food to communities. Historically, human beings have done this by building agrarian societies or by becoming hunter-gatherers, so the lessons of adaptation are already in our DNA.
Are we going to continue to watch paralyzed as our future is swept away? Will we drown in the distraction of a climate change debate that no longer matters?
If we are to survive, we must face the reality of climate change. Now is the time to find a way to survive.
About the Author
Dr. Ariana Marshall is a faculty member with the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math at American Public University. She is the Director for the Caribbean Sustainability Collective and focuses on culturally relevant sustainability and climate change adaptation. Ariana completed her doctorate in environmental science at FAMU.