Adaptation to Climate Change for Sustainable Development: A Survey

Adaptation to Climate Change for Sustainable Development: A Survey

Soumyananda Dinda (Sidho-Kanho-Birsha University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8814-8.ch018


Climate change is an important global issue. For sustainable development human society must adopt the climate change and reduce vulnerability. This chapter provides an overview on the climate change and its effects, in response how human societies adopt it across the globe. Chapter reviews major papers on adaptation to climate change. Based on major important articles this chapter provides clarity of the concept of adaptation, types of adaptation, measurement of adaptation and determinants of adaptive capacity. It also highlights on sustainable development and shows possible future directions of adaptation and limitations.
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2. Climate Change

Climate change is real, and the causal link to increased greenhouse gas emissions that is now well established (Coondoo and Dinda 2002). Globally, the ten hottest years on record have occurred since 1991, and in the past century, temperatures have risen by about 0.60 C (See, IPCC reports for details). In the same period, global sea level has risen by about 20 cm – it is partly due to melting of mountain ice and partly due to thermal expansion of the oceans. Scientific research finds evidences that in last two centuries anthropogenic activities have increased atmospheric greenhouse gases concentration that is more than pre-industrial levels. Only increasing pressure of greenhouse gas emissions and aerosol concentrations in atmosphere could explain the rising trend in temperature in last 100 years (IPCC reports).

Recent climate change is the result of human actions and specially from the burning of fossil fuels and land use changes. Development activities increase the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) – mainly carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. The GHGs are accumulated in the upper level of atmosphere and acts like the roof of GHG that is tapping solar long-wave radiation which raises temperature. It also provokes other forms of climate disruption and accelerates the process. This depends on a complex interplay of many factors, including rates of population expansion, economic growth and patterns of consumption. The effects are not uniform. The changes differ from one location to another. There are different weather consequences, while some regions have intense rainfall, others have more prolonged dry period and few areas have both.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Climate Change: Climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time. Climate change refers to a change in average weather conditions, or in the time variation of weather around longer-term average conditions.

Risk: Risk is the potential of losing something of value. Values can be gained or lost when taking risk resulting from a given action, activity and/or inaction, foreseen or unforeseen. Risk can also be defined as the intentional interaction with uncertainty, which is a potential, unpredictable, immeasurable and uncontrollable outcome. Risk is a consequence of action taken in spite of uncertainty.

Adaptation: Adaptation is the adjustment with changing conditions. It is a change of traditional practices for non-declining welfare due to effects of climate change. Adaptation refers to changes in practices, processes, or restructures to minimise or offset potential damages associated with changes in climate. Adaptation involves adjustments to reduce the vulnerability of communities, or regions, or nations.

Vulnerability: Vulnerability, in this context, may be defined as the diminished capacity of an individual or group to anticipate, cope with, resist and recover from the impact of a natural or man-made hazard. The concept is relative and dynamic. Vulnerability is most often associated with poverty, but it can also arise when people are isolated, insecure and defenceless in the face of risk, shock or stress. People differ in their exposure to risk as a result of their social group, gender, ethnic or other identity, age and other factors.

Sustainable Development: According to Brundtland report (1987), Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts: (i) the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and (ii) the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs. Sustainable development is a process for achieving sustainability in any activity that uses resources and where immediate and intergenerational replication is demanded. Sustainable development is the organizing principle for sustaining finite resources necessary to provide for the needs of future generations of life on the planet.

Adaptive Capacity: Adaptive capacity is the potential ability of a system, and the region or community adapts to the effects or impacts of climate change. Enhancement of adaptive capacity represents a practical means of coping with changes and uncertainties in climate, including variability and extremes. Enhancement of adaptive capacity reduces vulnerabilities.

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