Published 2 years ago.
About a 3 minute read.
Image: One Tree Planted/Facebook
The fast and yet slow pace of climate change, along with the geographically dispersed nature of the impacts, can make a collective risk accounting seem
overwhelming. Yet there is an interplay between climate risk and certain mitigation measures; we need to factor the risks into how we approach solutions.
Climate change affects every aspect of our lives — from the individual and
family unit to national and international governance. The myriad ways that
climate impacts show up in our world can be paralyzing to contend with. A
chronic drought is different from a heat wave, but they both cause undeniable
suffering. Although we have the statistical and scientific frameworks to project
the physical impacts of future climate change-related events, the
fast-and-yet-slow elements of climate change (ex: extreme weather events and
chronic exposure) can bedevil our capacity to absorb projected losses. The
solution is increasing attention on the role of resilience in fortifying
individuals and communities in the face of grave loss of lives, livelihoods and
Do we have the mental and decision-making models to adapt? Have we accounted for
the vast and disruptive effects of climate change on total planetary health?
Climate mitigation has historically been distinct from climate adaptation.
and other constituents agitating for urgent emissions reductions, and the
governments and businesses endeavoring to
are vital components of a future adaptation strategy. The reality is, climate
mitigation draws down climate risk by making impacts and adaptation less
onerous, and those benefits are realized the sooner greenhouse gas pollution is
There is also an interplay between climate risk and certain mitigation measures.
At COP26, a particular focus was on tree planting and tree
as a means to sequester more carbon dioxide. Yet, climate risk tells us that the
ability of terrestrial photosynthesizers to sequester carbon is increasingly at
risk as drought, heat
waves and wildfires proliferate and amplify.
Climate risk has also spread to our oceans. The oceans have been buffering our
terrestrial communities from the worst impacts of climate change. But the
unraveling associated with cascading effects is becoming even more pronounced
for our coastal
Sustainable fishing and other aspects of the blue economy are being
compromised by the
accelerating climate impacts on the oceans. These include marine oxygen
(new in the past several decades), accelerating ocean acidification, and other
The fast and yet slow pace of climate change, along with the geographically
dispersed nature of the impacts, can make a collective risk accounting seem
like a monumental undertaking. Yet we monitor the health of the earth system and
quantify the drawdown of greenhouse gas
while we simultaneously project future states and most viable pathways to inform
our decision-making. Likewise, we also need to factor climate risk into how we
approach mitigation and climate
This would mean that planting a tree in an area that will experience increasing
drought should be factored into the costs and benefits of that activity. And
preserving and restoring coastal blue carbon would have additional value due to
the enhanced resilience afforded by these ecosystems.
This way of understanding climate risk utilizes best available science to craft
decision-making that is most responsive to present and future planetary health.
We have the means to do this using sustained monitoring and modeling. And there
are even more exciting techniques being developed in the climate tech realm —
from novel satellites and drones to machine learning/AI in weather and climate
and governments are increasingly keen to quantify how their portfolios reflect
climate risk and enhance ecosystem resilience. The confluence of these factors
should mean we arrive at a more holistic deployment of climate risk tools that
gives us the adaptive capacity to navigate a path toward enhanced planetary
Published Feb 15, 2022 7am EST / 4am PST / 12pm GMT / 1pm CET
Dr. Julie Pullen, PhD, is a Climate Strategist at Jupiter Intelligence — a market leader for climate risk analytics in key industries.