Basically, when we discuss climate change, there are two main points to look at: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation focuses on reducing carbon emissions and stabilizing the carbon content of the atmosphere. When we talk about reducing our carbon footprint, we're dealing with mitigation. Mitigation is probably what most people are familiar with because that's what is talked about the most.
Adaptation is talked about a lot less, for several reasons, but it is just as, or perhaps more important than mitigation. Basically, adaptation focuses on reducing vulnerability to climate change. Now, most people, when they think about adaptation, think about engineering and technological solutions to reduce vulnerability: stuff like sea walls, or better levees. This is certainly part of adaptation. But not all adaptation is technological. Adaptation might involve planting less water intense crops in a region vulnerable to drought. Or it might involve developing evacuation strategies in the event of a hurricane. In the third world, adaptation often runs concurrently with development. The idea is, the more developed a nation becomes, the less vulnerable its people are. The more we promote third world development, the more likely those nations will be able to weather climate change successfully.
Basically, say you are reducing your use of electricity because you want to lower your carbon footprint. In that case, you would be practicing mitigation. But let's see you want to reduce your use of electricity because you are worried that in the future you won't have ready access to electricity due to peak oil. Then you would be practicing adaptation.
On a global scale, adaptation is becoming increasingly important for a variety of reasons. One, because climate change is no longer a future occurrence. It's already happening in many parts of the world, and thus, people are already having to learn how to adapt. Two, because the stigma towards adaptation is luckily dying. Believe it or not, environmentalists, including Al Gore, used to think that if we talked about adapting to global warming, people would just forget about mitigation. Thus, adaptation was seen as something not to be discussed. Luckily, everyone has kind of come to their senses and people now realize that adaptation and mitigation can be pursued together.
All right, that's my basic introduction. Does anyone have any questions?