When most talk climate policy, they talk mitigation: decrease our ever increasing flow of carbon into the atmospheric sewer.
Another piece of the puzzle is adaptation. We are way past the point where mitigation alone will do. We know we’ll feel the consequences of global warming for years, decades, and centuries to come. That’s why we need to move to higher grounds and adapt to a warming world.
But adaptation is for the rich. The poor will suffer. That’s not a secret either, or at least it’s an open secret. For most, things won’t be as simple as buying a second air conditioner—suffering will surely be part of the equation.
Lastly, there’s geoengineering. It’s scary, it’s hubristic, it’s akin to a planetary chemotherapy—or perhaps more fitting: a planetary tracheostomy. It’ll surely be part of the equation as well going forward, primarily because we still haven’t gotten our act together on the mitigation portion of things.
There are few certainties when it comes to global warming, but one thing is for sure: the ultimate policy response will include a combination of all four. Here’s hoping it will include more of the first than of any of the others.