Mitigation or Adaptation Strategies?

Experts in the human dimensions of climate change think and talk in terms of two things: Mitigation behaviors, and adaptation behaviors. Mitigation refers to those behaviors that can be limited or modified in order to decrease our carbon footprint, such as driving a car to work fewer days per week. Risk communication campaigns should be well-suited for helping to mitigate the human carbon costs that contribute to global warming. Adaptation, on the other hand, refers to ending some current practices and beginning new behaviors which may radically and more fundamentally change how we live. Some adaptations will be the result of government policy decisions and will be permanent. For example, residents of low-lying coastal towns and cities may have to move from those areas and relocate, which may encounter considerable resistance. Beliefs and culture may well be affected by the need to permanently adapt to new ways of living. Preparing populations for the need to permanently adapt to climate change may move risk communication practices, and research, into new dimensions.

-Jim Dearing

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