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Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 61, Issue 1, pp 9–35 | Cite as

Adaptation to What and Why?

  • A.B. Pittock
  • R.N. Jones
Article

Abstract

Adaptation in response to anthropogenic climate change seeks to maintain viability by maximising benefits and minimising losses. It is necessary because some climatic change is now inevitable, despite the international focus on mitigation measures. Indeed, the measures agreed at Kyoto would by themselves result in only a small reduction in the climate changes to be expected over the next century.

Discussion of the expected changes and possible impacts leads to the following conclusions regarding climate change scenarios in relation to impacts and adaptation:

• Climate change in the foreseeable future will not be some new stable "equilibrium" climate, but rather an ongoing "transient" process;

• Climate change predictions relevant to impacts on most sectors and ecosystems are still highly uncertain;

• There is a need for a greater focus on developing countries and tropical regions, and on relevant key variables, including the magnitude and frequency of extreme events;

• The focus should shift from single predictions, or extreme ranges of uncertainty, to risk assessment;

• Thresholds critical to impacted sectors and ecosystems should be identified, and expressed as functions of climatic variables;

• Planned adaptations will be necessary to cope with multiple stresses, including those due to non-climatic changes;

• A major task of adaptation science is to identify the limits of adaptation, i.e., to identify "dangerous levels of greenhouse gases" beyond which adaptation becomes impractical or prohibitively expensive.

climate change risk adaptation thresholds limits 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • A.B. Pittock
    • 1
  • R.N. Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.Climate Impacts GroupCSIRO Atmospheric Research PB 1AspendaleAustralia

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