So far, we’ve been looking at climate change through the lens of energy and mitigation. This month we will look at adaptation, the neglected stepsister of the climate change family. UNDP defines climate adaptation as: "a process by which strategies to moderate, cope with and take advantage of the consequences of climatic events are enhanced, developed, or implemented." Simply put, adaptation is about protecting ourselves from climate threats today and in the future.
Adaptation is not a new word. The term finds its root in ecology. More recently adaption is being thought about as a policy response or a strategic tool to address climate change. However, in spite of the milestones achieved in international negotiations and the daunting amount of literature published on climate change adaptation, most of the work starts with a disclaimer in one form or another stating that the very meaning of “adaptation” is still not clearly understood and agreed upon.
To help establish a baseline understanding of public responses to climate change in India, Yale Project on Climate Change Communication conducted a national survey to investigate the current state of public climate change awareness, beliefs, attitudes, policy support, and behaviors. The results of this national survey suggest that a majority of Indians, although unaware of the terms “climate change” or “global warming,” readily agree that it is happening, are worried about the impacts, and support government action to address the threat.
Adaptation is a tricky beast. Despite the high physical vulnerability and low adaptive capacity of the Indian population, little is being done to address issue of climate adaptation at the policy level in India. Unlike its proactive neighbors, Bangladesh and Nepal, India has not developed a National Adaptation Plan or any other framework or planning document that organizes adaptation activities in the country.
India lives in its villages or as Mahatma Gandhi said: “India’s soul lives in its villages.” In 2015, I believe we are questioning our soul. Today, India is a paradox—we are an overdeveloped country and an underdeveloped one. We talk about high growth on one hand, while millions of citizens do not have access to basic toilet facilities. This can make India either a cauldron of problems or a powerhouse of solutions.
India needs to adopt a strategy of smart agriculture instead of blind large-scale agriculture. As an industry, agriculture can no longer continue with little regard for efficiencies, innovation, capacity and infrastructure building and skill development. The only way resilience from poorly thought through micro-economic decisions to sensitive agro-climatic changes can be built is by unleashing the true potential of the abundance and rich natural ecosystems that exist across the backyard of India.
Feast your eyes on these stunning and evocative pictures from the instagram account, Everydayclimatechange. A group of photographers from five continents came together to document compelling climate change evidence and post it on our most accessible forms of social media. Everydayclimatechange is not an account as much as it is a movement that captures the impacts of climate change on real people in real places around the world.