Archive for the ‘Author: Gilligan, J.’ Category

Why adaptation is not sufficient

March 25th, 2008

Posted by: admin

Just after I post suggesting that it would be more constructive to get out of the zero-sum construction of adaptation and mitigation, the LA Times has a story featuring Roger Pielke, Jr. and others saying we should give up on mitigation and focus on adaptation: “His research has led him to believe that it is cheaper and more effective to adapt to global warming than to fight it.”

[Correction: Roger informs me that this quotation mischaracterizes his position as posing a dichotomy between adaptation and mitigation. I apologize for taking the reporter's words at face value without checking their veracity first. The comment that follows, then, does not refer specifically to Roger's views, but I leave it because the false perception that we must choose between adaptation and mitigation is common and I wish to make clear that it's wrong.]

That’s just not going to do it, in part because it ignores the value of ecosystem services. I would like anti-mitigationists to address how adaptation will address ecosystems, particularly the effect of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems.

I am also very concerned about the economic effects of disrupting terrestrial ecosystems on agriculture. I have a hard time believing anti-mitigation arguments based on cost-benefit analyses that set a zero value on threats to ecosystem services simply because they don’t know how to quantify those.


Why no candidate positions on adaptation?

March 24th, 2008

Posted by: admin

Over at the NY Times, Nicki Bennett makes a guest post on Nicholas Kristoff’s “On the Ground” blog about climate change and Dhaka Bangladesh. After some fairly boilerplate stuff about how climate change is likely to affect people there, she raises an important point that we don’t see reported sufficiently:

Back at the office, feeling curious, I decide to conduct a quick (and totally unscientific) experiment to check how much people in the United States actually care about the issue: I log onto the websites of the main U.S. presidential candidates to see if they have a position on climate change. Some of them talk about cutting greenhouse gas emissions. None talk about paying money into the climate change “adaptation” fund. And none are talking about the impact of climate change on poor people – or what they might do about the fact that places like Bangladesh and New Orleans are already being bashed by climate-related disasters and slowly losing land to rising sea levels.

This makes me think about how we seem to hear from many proponents of adaptation policy only when they are setting mitigation and adaptation against each other as slices in a zero-sum climate policy pie.

It would be nice to hear more discussion of adaptation independently of mitigation. I wonder whether separating the two issues more in public discourse would make it easier to press for adaptation policy by making it harder for candidates to say in essence, “I gave at the office with my mitigation policy.”

Individual Behavior and Climate Policy

November 2nd, 2007

Posted by: admin

Michael Vandenbergh and Anne Steinemann have a paper forthcoming in the NYU Law Review called “The Carbon Neutral Individual.” (a preprint is available on SSRN.)

In this paper, Vandenbergh and Steinemann assess the carbon dioxide output under the direct control of individuals and households, such as driving, space heating, household electricity use, and find that this accounts for 32% of US carbon dioxide emissions. The authors do not attempt a comprehensive footprint (something that would include indirect carbon emissions from manufacturing commodities, grow food, etc.) but focus on those things where the carbon dioxide emissions are most directly connected to the individual’s action (getting in the car or adjusting the thermostat).

The paper notes that just the individual and household carbon emissions in the U.S. are greater than the total emissions of any other nation save China.