Join us for a symposium on Lessons of Climate Resilience in New York City this Wednesday, Oct. 19, from 6-7:15 p.m. in Low Library on the Columbia University campus.
The need to adapt to the current impact of climate change is already obvious in many cities and work is already underway to make cities more resilient to extreme weather events. New York City has begun to implement a resiliency plan that will cost at least $20 billion over the next decade.
This week climate scientists from the United States and Europe will join with officials from government and international agencies at Columbia to share knowledge about climate change and strategies for adaptation in North America and the Caribbean.
The tropics are already hot, and they’re getting hotter as global temperatures rise. A new study offers a glimpse into how seriously a couple more degrees could disrupt the region’s ecological map.
Although El Niño is weakening, its ramifications continue to be felt around the world. Drought and resulting food insecurity is one of the major implications for southeast Asia, eastern and southern Africa, Central America and the Caribbean. Sixty million are in need of emergency relief today, according to the United Nations.
What I am betting on is the growing sense of awareness and understanding of environmental issues among the people of the world. It could be that my personal perspective is a little warped. I’ve seen the environmental issue move from the outer fringes to the center of our political agenda.
No one should underestimate the scale of the challenge that confronts humanity. It will require new technologies and changes in infrastructure, organizational capacity, economic incentives and public policy.
Using something finite and dumping it into a hole in the ground is less efficient and more costly than a system build on photosynthesis, renewable resources, and reuse of finite resources. In other words, an organization managed according to the principles of sustainability should be able to outcompete the organization sticking to the old, polluting 20th-century industrial model of management.
In some cases we do not understand the impact of human actions on the planet and we need to do more observation and analysis to understand those impacts. In other cases we don’t really know how to repair the damage once it has been done.
If the international community were to fully understand the threat of climate change, and the likely cost of mitigation and adaptation, perhaps we would commit to continued tax breaks and incentives, and propel the renewable energy transition toward completion. In the long run, I am sure this would be less expensive than coping with the consequences of continued growth in greenhouse gas emissions through 2050.