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Learning to Adapt: Climate Change After 30 Years

By Cindy Ann Bowers

This November, our world leaders will gather for COP 27 - UN Climate Change Conference. Obviously, this isn’t the first gathering of this kind. The first formal meeting was in 1992 when President George H.W. Bush and other world leaders adopted the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) with the goal of “avoiding dangerous human interference with the climate system”. The United Nations has been meeting about climate change for almost 30 years now. Climate change (or climate disruption) is continuing to threaten life on this planet despite so many leaders talking for so many years. We are making some progress; information is beginning to penetrate our societal brain suggesting that the way we are living on this earth might need to change. Technology solutions are being developed to reduce our carbon emissions, people are talking, and Earth Care ministries are popping up in churches. Even Time magazine dedicated last year’s issue to climate change, titling it, “Climate Crises Dominated 2021. But These Innovations Offer Some Hope.

According to Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the pillars of the global climate change convention are adaptation and mitigation.” She further notes that:

“Adaptation is the invitation that we’re being given to change behaviors and consumption patterns and production patterns that we have had for 100, 150 years, that are simply no longer sustainable.” (from video: “Adapting to a Changing Climate”)

Adaptation to a changing climate will look different in any given community, but we will all have to make changes in the way we live. We’ll need to change what we eat, how we build our homes and cities, how we use water, how we travel, and more. Adaptation is not optional. The climate will require that we adapt. It’s like my old t-shirt from the ‘80s - “recycle or die”.

I think a lot about what the future holds and how we, here in the US, will change the way we live. One of the many reasons I chose to live a small and nomadic life is because I believe that making some fundamental changes in the way I live now will make me more resilient in the future.

I don’t own a house to get flattened by a hurricane.

I don’t have a lot of possessions to lose to a forest fire.

I share a vehicle with my partner so I am thoughtful about when and where I drive.

I eat mostly plants.

I try to conserve water.

I wear the same boring clothes.

All these choices simplify my life so I can be nimble and adaptable. It’s a big experiment to see how ready I can be for the future.

In the US, we feel insulated from many of the impacts of climate change. We are one of the richest countries on the planet and we can easily feel far removed from the scenes of flooding, drought, and famine that are already plaguing the poorer countries. We’re also the third largest country in the world. Our climate refugees (elderly folks in Fort Myers?) will not have to migrate to another country to survive. We are very, very privileged, but we will have to adapt. The only question is when and how. So stay involved!

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