Hope Springs Eternal

Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.” True words, written by H.G Wells a hundred years ago, and words that are blindingly true now. Those are our choices. Adapt or Perish!
Last week, the UN’s Global Commission on Adaptation issued its report on the state of the planet <https://gca.org/global-commission-on-adaptation/report> and found that there is hope. That’s good news!
Here’s an excerpt from the Global Commission on Adaptation’s website:
We face a crisis. Climate change is upon us, and its impacts are getting more severe with each passing year.
Global actions to slow climate change are promising but insufficient. We must invest in a massive effort to adapt to conditions that are now inevitable: higher temperatures, rising seas, fiercer storms, more unpredictable rainfall, and more acidic oceans.
We are not starting from a standstill. There are many bright spots where adaptation efforts have begun — but we need more urgency, innovation, and scale.
Adaptation is not an alternative to a redoubled effort to stop climate change, but an essential complement to it. Failing to lead and act on adaptation will result in a huge economic and human toll, causing widespread increases in poverty and severely undermining long-term global economic prospects.
The good news is that adaptation, done right, will lead to better growth and development. It will also protect nature, reduce inequalities, and create opportunities.
We can do it.
A young woman in Bangladesh hears a siren announcing an incoming typhoon and moves her family to safety. A farmer in Zimbabwe uses a new variety of maize that is more resistant to drought. In Mexico, engineers redesign city streets to make them less prone to flooding. A business executive in Indonesia uses data and maps on water risk to plan his investments. An urban planner in Columbia paints roofs white to reflect dangerous heat. This is what climate adaptation looks like.
Bangladesh is a striking example of the power of adaptation. In 1970, Cyclone Bhola killed 300,000 people; 1991 Bangladesh cyclone BOB 01 caused 138,000 deaths; in 2007 Cyclone Sidr was responsible for 3,363 deaths; and, earlier this year, the latest Bangladesh cyclone killed just five people. Scaled-up disaster response has included early warning systems, cyclone shelters, developing civic awareness, strengthening buildings, and improving post-disaster recovery. These changes appear, so far, to have eliminated the catastrophic death tolls of the past.
In London, England, the Thames Barrier is another example of planning and preparation. By holding back storm surges and high tides, it helps protect 1.3 million people, billions of dollars’ worth of property and tremendous numbers of places of high cultural and historical value from flooding. The Thames Estuary 2100 Plan sets out a long-term approach to managing flood protection, river access, species habitat, and quality of life into the next century.
The report mentions that, “Cities and water utilities are adopting integrated approaches that, together, address flood and heat management and protect water sources. Green roofs and greater tree cover can cool cities and reduce energy use.” Hmmm. It looks to me that in Colonia Emiliano Zapata the massive construction boom has the opposite effect here in Puerto Vallarta. Is this city’s planning department planning for the future or not?
There are many bright spots around the world, but, so far, they have been gravely insufficient. The climate crisis is here.  Wildfires ravage fragile habitats; city taps run dry, droughts scorch the land and floods destroy people’s homes and livelihoods. Government officials and business leaders need to rethink, radically, how they make decisions. Adaptation can bring out bold ideas and inspire innovation beyond what people currently think is possible. Most of all, we need political leadership that shakes people out of their collective slumber.
The Global Commission on Adaptation’s report is encouraging “We are working with many partners to support a Year of Action, starting in September 2019, that will jump-start the necessary transitions for change. We have reason for hope. Throughout history, people have adapted to change in turbulent times; they have found ways to reduce risk and create new opportunities. With ingenuity and resourcefulness, people have overcome the most extraordinary challenges — from eradicating disease to rebounding from the devastation of war. We need this courageous spirit today. We call for global leadership on climate adaptation to create safer, stronger, and thriving communities around the world.”
Many, many people know about the threats facing life as we know it. Knowing it, we must act. We have a choice. We can ADAPT or PERISH.

John Warren on Email
John Warren
John Warren is in charge of Publicity for the International Friendship Club (IFC). His articles describe the programs and charities that IFC supports, the sources of income of IFC and the social experiences, lectures and classes that members can enjoy.
He splits his time between Puerto Vallarta and Lethbridge, Alberta. In the winter months he writes for the IFC, this summer he’s focusing his writing on the environment.