Integrating Climate Mitigation and Adaptation, or: I’m in BIG Trouble

Don’t Try This At Home

Thelma and LouiseA couple of weeks ago, I noted in a discussion of water and climate change, that in many cases, seeking to adapt to climate change effects might actually wind up undermining efforts to mitigate it. My example was lining irrigation canals, but there are lots of them out there.

I began to think “Gosh. There really should be an article discussing this problem.” It was only a few days later that I realized that there is a very recent article discussing this problem, and what’s more, it was written by my wife: Holistic Climate Change Governance: Towards Mitigation and Adaptation Synthesis, by Professor Katherine Trisolini of Loyola Law School. In my completely objective and totally unbiased opinion, it’s excellent. It’s really well-worth reading, because policymakers need to integrate mitigation and adaptation: the water and canal lining example is the tip of the iceberg.  Here’s the abstract.

Climate change already has begun destabilizing natural systems, prompting unprecedented heat waves, droughts, floods, and severe storms. While scientists admonish us that greenhouse gases must be cut deeply and quickly to avoid the worst impacts, past emissions have committed the planet to some further warming. Resulting physical changes will require a legal system that functions amidst extreme weather, rising seas, and scientific uncertainty about the stability of natural systems upon which we relied in designing institutions and infrastructure. An effective response requires both substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to limit the harm (“mitigation”) and significant adaptation. Scholars and policymakers have largely treated mitigation and adaptation as distinct strategies, overlooking critical interactions between the two issues. This Article addresses the resulting gap in scholarship.

Adequate preparation for climate change requires fundamentally rethinking systems and infrastructure designed for more stable conditions. Part of this rethinking process includes evaluating whether legal measures designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will ultimately aid or hinder adaptation. Using a case study of one proposed mitigation measure — expanded reliance on nuclear power — this Article illustrates how disconnected approaches to adaptation and mitigation can undermine both efforts. The Article then offers a preliminary framework for holistic climate change governance that directs mitigation investment toward adaptive and adaptable infrastructure that reduces human risks, decreases reliance on complex networks, and moderates the extent of scientific uncertainty that legislators and administrative agencies will face in an unpredictable future environment.

Reader Comments

6 Replies to “Integrating Climate Mitigation and Adaptation, or: I’m in BIG Trouble”

  1. Jonathan,

    You’ll be happy to learn last week at the California Adapatation Forum,, the following sentence was repeatedly proclaimed: “the best act of adaptation is mitigation.”

    Indeed, if we’re unable to limit GHG emissions we will pass the point beyond which humanity can no longer adapt.


  2. Climate change already has begun destabilizing global warming hysterics, prompting unprecedented insanity in academia, government agencies, and other institutions in which employees depend on ever increasing global warming hysteria in order to get monetary grants, thus making their mortgage payments.

    1. Capitalistroader said:
      “….Climate change already has begun destabilizing global warming hysterics, prompting unprecedented insanity in academia,…”

      This is a very honest and forthright observation which accurately describes the current state-of-affairs in the climate movement. Thanks for your insight Capitalistroader, welcome to our forum.

  3. The links to dowload the article do not work. Where/how can I get a copy? Is it on an academic database?

    1. It is definitely on academic databases, and Lexis and Westlaw, of course. I tried to change the link; I think it works now, and goes to the SSRN page.

  4. The solution to climate change
    replacement for fossil fuel powered electrical generation

    D.Baker @silenced_not

    Urgent action required, appears to be the consensus of the most learned climate change advocates!
    The collective wisdom acquired through trial and error test applications of alleged solutions, has been enlightening, and sobering as agenda driven rhetoric failed time after time to deliver a replacement technology for the fossil fuel powered electrical generating facilities, which are the primary sources.of GHG the alleged culprits inducing global climatic destabilization!

    Most recently 2 documents have corroborated a much maligned document I wrote!
    In My Opinion!

    * Leaked Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) the report says that agricultural output may drop by as much as two percent every decade for the rest of this century, compared to what it would have been without the effects of climate change. Demand for food is reportedly expected to rise 14 percent each decade during that time, exacerbating the food supply issue.

    * letter, by Kenneth Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution, Kerry Emanuel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, James E. Hansen of Columbia University and Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Adelaide

    “To Those Influencing Environmental Policy But Opposed to Nuclear Power”

    Unfortunately building conventional nuclear facilities is not realistic due to the costs associated with safety issues.

    This leaves you with one option other than Geo-engineering “A New Nuclear Technology”!
    Geo-engineering is the newest subsidy for the fossil fuel industry and is wrought with unknown risks and dangers and therefore not an option.

    The New Nuclear Technology I propose is as follows:
    Human Excrement + Nuclear Waste = Hydrogen

    Page 29 Last Sentence

    Radiolysis No Meltdown Risk
    Fig 2.1

    You’ve tried everything else first and these have failed adding to the urgency of action required!

    Dennis Baker
    1. – 998 Creston Avenue

    Penticton BC Canada V2A1P9

    [email protected]
    @dennisearlbaker @silenced_not

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About Jonathan

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic – Land Use, the Environment and Loc…

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About Jonathan

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic – Land Use, the Environment and Loc…

READ more

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