With the recent end of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, we thought it would be relevant to discuss the two fundamental aspects of dealing with the crisis: adaptation and mitigation choices. Both strategies are necessary to reach our globally-created climate targets. However, it is essential to understand the differences in their purposes and factors. #Adaptation involves developing processes to respond to a changing environment rather than changing the environment itself; these are strategies to deal with a new normal. Examples include air conditioning, flood routes, heavier jackets etc. It is important to note that some systems may negatively impact the climate, requiring a heavier reliance on energy or alteration to natural environments. As highlighted in #COP26, however, effective adaptation strategies are critical for many tropical and equatorial countries, as they already face rapid climate conditions that they cannot safely exist in without aid.
Adopting targeted mitigation strategies is necessary to help alleviate some of the long-term symptoms for these regions and the planet overall. #Mitigation involves utilizing eco-conscious technologies and practices to minimize current emissions and prevent future emissions from fostering a heightened, dangerous state for the planet. These strategies can include purchasing renewable energy alternatives, using energy-efficient vehicles, offsetting carbon emissions etc. Individual initiatives include choosing a plant-based diet, walking to work and minimizing plastic consumption. With mitigation, the emphasis is choosing products or energy that create the opportunity for a positive net effect on emissions, rather than the current negative footprint from resource-intensive technologies and highly emitting transportation options.
It is essential to know the difference and understand that we can only reach our climate targets if we utilize these strategies together. Mitigation strategies will create a cleaner, healthier future, and adaptation plans can alleviate the stress faced now so that we never experience detrimental, unrecoverable climate stress. There are many online resources available to share effective mitigation strategies. We even created a blog post, Can Individual Acts Really Help Our Planet, to provide an overview of simple changes that can help create a more sustainable life.