Friday, December 04, 2009

Adaptation is going to be absolutely crucial for some societies

Cities, states and countries are scrambling to adapt or are at least talking about it and setting aside money for it. Some examples:

• England is strengthening the Thames River flood control barrier at a cost of around half a billion dollars.

• The Netherlands is making its crucial flood control system stronger.

• California is redesigning the gates that move water around the agriculturally vital Sacramento River Delta so that they can work when the sea level rises dramatically there.

• Boston elevated a sewage treatment plant to keep it from being flooded when sea level rises. New York City is looking at similar maneuvers for water plants.

• Chicago has a program to promote rooftop vegetation and reflective roofs that absorb less heat. That could keep the temperature down and ease heat waves.

SHOOT: Adapt or die.
clipped from
FILE-  In this file photo taken Monday, June 23, 2008, floodwater from the

With the world losing the battle against global warming so far, experts are warning that humans need to follow nature's example: Adapt or die.

That means elevating buildings, making taller and stronger dams and seawalls, rerouting water systems, restricting certain developments, changing farming practices and ultimately moving people, plants and animals out of harm's way.

Some biologists point to how nature has handled the changing climate. The rare Adonis blue butterfly of Britain looked as if it was going to disappear because it couldn't fly far and global warming was making its habitat unbearable. To biologists' surprise, it evolved longer thoraxes and wings, allowing it to fly farther to cooler locales.

"Society needs to be changing as much as wildlife is changing," said Texas A&M biologist Camille Parmesan, an expert on how species change with global warming.

One difficulty is that climate change is happening rapidly.

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