The world cannot adapt its way out of the climate crisis, and counting on adaptation to limit damage is no substitute for urgently cutting greenhouse gases, a leading climate scientist has warned.
Katharine Hayhoe, chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy and a professor at Texas Tech University, said the world was heading for dangers unseen in the 10,000 years of human civilization, and efforts to make the world more resilient were needed but by themselves could not soften the impact enough. “People do not understand the magnitude of what is going on,” she said. “This will be greater than anything we have ever seen in the past. This will be unprecedented. Every living thing will be affected.”
While countries can start to adapt to some of the impacts, for instance with seawalls and flood barriers, and by making their infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather, if global heating is allowed to continue then the world will rapidly reach a point beyond what can be adapted to. “If we continue with business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions, there is no adaptation that is possible. You just can’t,” she said, in an interview with the Guardian.