Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Climate Change (2) Gradual

The most important thing is that climate change is gradual. This means that no matter how climate changes, humans will have time to adapt. That will be painful for some people who have to make the change. However, adapting to change is what humans are good at.

Farmers have always adapted to the climate. I grew up on a farm. In the 1960s, we experienced a decade of frequent droughts. We didn’t give up, but change the way we farmed. We stopped growing wheat crops, as there was insufficient moisture. And we got rid of our beef breeding cows, because during dry years there was insufficient grass to feed them. We adapted to a temporary change in the climate. That is what farmers do.

If sea levels rise, people living by the coast may find that their houses are uninhabitable. They will need to migrate to places where they are safe from coastal erosion. This should not be seen as unusual.

People have always migrated when the place where they were living becomes untenable. Abraham migrated from Ur to Canaan. Joseph and Mary migrated to Egypt when they were unsafe in Nazareth.

In the 19th century, crofting in Scotland became impossible due to the enclosure of land by large scale absentee farmers. My great grandparents migrated across the world to New Zealand to find a safer place to live.

More recently, many Americans migrated from the great lakes area to the south to get jobs when the auto industry declined.

Most of the people living in Europe are descendants of migrants, if they go back far enough. People have always migrated in response to trials of all kinds.

With climate change, some places will improve and other places will get worse. People will need to shift from the latter to the former. The dislocation will be painful, but it is what people do.

During the warm period around the year 1000, agriculture patterns in the UK and Europe changed dramatically. People adapted to the slowly changing climate condition. We will have to do the same, if the climate does change significantly.

  • Humans are skilled adapters.
  • Climate change comes slowly.
These factors will enable us to adapt to climate change. It will be painful, and incomes might drop significantly, but humans will adapt. The end of the world will not come.

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