Mitigation will not be enough: we need to adapt

Submitted by: The MEOPAR-Lincoln Community Sustainability research team

What is adaptation and why is it important? 

The top scientists around the globe know our climate is changing at a faster rate than Earth has ever experienced—largely as a result of the actions taken by humans since the industrial revolution. This is resulting in changes to the Earth’s natural processes, including our climate, and action needs to be taken to slow down and deal with these changes. 

These actions can take on two different forms: mitigation or adaptation. Mitigation refers to actions taken to slow down climate changes, mainly targeted at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, for example. Adaptation, on the other hand, goes even further: acknowledging that even if we halted 100% of all emissions right now, we will still inevitably see some of the effects of climate change for decades. Adaptation means preparing for the inevitability of these changes by engaging in actions or strategies to better respond to the risks of climate change. Strategies may be either reactive (drying out your basement and preventing mould after you’re have been flooded) or proactive (relocating entirely because your house is getting too close to the shoreline).

Adaptation actions may include:

●      flood prevention

●      relocation

●      land use changes

●      health programs

●      restoration of shorelines and forests

  • smart building design

To successfully tackle the complex challenge of climate change, a combination of mitigation and adaptation efforts need to be prioritized by everyone: from federal to municipal governments, as well as local agencies, businesses, industries and community members. Using the Town of Lincoln as a case study, the MEOPAR-Lincoln research project focuses on how communities can adapt to changing environmental conditions, and what will ultimately motivate citizens to get involved and start moving into action. 

A wide range of community voices will be needed to complete this study, as there will be a wide range of impacts to be addressed and strategies to be examined. To find out more about the study and how you can get involved, follow along with our weekly articles. 

Photo caption: Flood waters rise up to the Niagara Rowing School and Paddlesport Centre at the Jordan Harbour Conservation Area, June 2019.