Adapting to global warming

Today the nations of the world meet in Copenhagen to attempt to forge agreements to stop global warming and the catastrophes that climate change will allegedly create. Instead of just trying to cut back on carbon emissions, as if the climate change can be prevented, the Dutch are taking steps to deal with the catastrophes should they occur. From Dutch defense against climate disaster: Adapt to the change – washingtonpost.com:

With the Copenhagen summit starting Monday, chances remain uncertain for a historic breakthrough in the fight to prevent climate change, but the Netherlands is leading a fight of a different kind: How to live with global warming.

As sea levels swell and storms intensify, the Dutch are spending billions of euros on "floating communities" that can rise with surging flood waters, on cavernous garages that double as urban floodplains and on re-engineering parts of a coastline as long as North Carolina's. The government is engaging in "selective relocation" of farmers from flood-prone areas and expanding rivers and canals to contain anticipated swells.

The measures are putting this water world of dikes, levies and pumps that have kept Dutch feet dry for centuries ahead of the rest of the world in adapting to harsher climates ahead.

Really, according to the doomsayers, isn’t it too late to do much of anything? Wouldn’t draconian cap-and-trade laws and restrictions on energy use cripple the world’s already tottering economies in a way that might be more devastating than what climate change would do? If people and nations really believe in climate change doomsday scenarios, shouldn’t the priority now be adaptation? Shouldn’t we start building dikes along the seacoast, or start selling beachfront property several miles inland? I mean, if people really believe those dire warnings.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I say the Dutch need to recruit more boys to put fingers in dikes. Maybe they can get them to immigrate from the Middle East.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    I say the Dutch need to recruit more boys to put fingers in dikes. Maybe they can get them to immigrate from the Middle East.

  • WebMonk

    The idea that global warming would cause more sever storms is bizarre. As far as I can tell, there hasn’t been any study that has shown that to be the case. The only thing I’ve heard of in regards to that are studies that use modeling, but I’ve also read some studies (or at least their abstracts) that predict a lower general storm severity.

    There have been historic trend studies about storm intensity and frequency, and they are universally trending downward once you take into account that we have much better sensor networks now compared to 100 years ago. (we have satellites to see storms in the ocean that never touch land, and the storms that only hit sparsely populated areas that wouldn’t have been reported before)

    I suspect the idea of more severe storms from global warming was first put out as a headline that grabbed attention, and modelers then tried find a way to generate a result to match the headlines.

  • WebMonk

    The idea that global warming would cause more sever storms is bizarre. As far as I can tell, there hasn’t been any study that has shown that to be the case. The only thing I’ve heard of in regards to that are studies that use modeling, but I’ve also read some studies (or at least their abstracts) that predict a lower general storm severity.

    There have been historic trend studies about storm intensity and frequency, and they are universally trending downward once you take into account that we have much better sensor networks now compared to 100 years ago. (we have satellites to see storms in the ocean that never touch land, and the storms that only hit sparsely populated areas that wouldn’t have been reported before)

    I suspect the idea of more severe storms from global warming was first put out as a headline that grabbed attention, and modelers then tried find a way to generate a result to match the headlines.

  • DonS

    Lars’ idea at 1 may be the most practical. :-)

    Yes, if the dire warnings are correct, there is no chance that proposed draconian carbon emission reductions in the developed world will have sufficient climatic impact to head off the coming catastrophe. According to the models, the system is already out of balance and warming inexorably. Proposed carbon emissions reductions are years away, and even then do not reduce the total worldwide carbon emissions, but rather only reduce their rate of increase. While Europe and the U.S. are supposed to somehow reduce their emissions 80% by 2050 (most of those reductions are proposed for the period just prior to that date), developing countries and China have no intention of making reductions. So, overall carbon emissions will not decrease.

    Practically speaking, what will happen is a transfer of emissions from developed to developing countries. Because of increasingly draconian environmental regulation to meet emission targets, and sharply increased energy costs because of artificial energy shortages brought on by cap and trade regulations, remaining manufacturing and other energy intensive functions will be off-shored to regions not under environmental regulation. This will cause persistent economic hardship in the western world, and actually result in a worsened environment, since world manufacturing and energy development will all be taking place in unregulated locales.

  • DonS

    Lars’ idea at 1 may be the most practical. :-)

    Yes, if the dire warnings are correct, there is no chance that proposed draconian carbon emission reductions in the developed world will have sufficient climatic impact to head off the coming catastrophe. According to the models, the system is already out of balance and warming inexorably. Proposed carbon emissions reductions are years away, and even then do not reduce the total worldwide carbon emissions, but rather only reduce their rate of increase. While Europe and the U.S. are supposed to somehow reduce their emissions 80% by 2050 (most of those reductions are proposed for the period just prior to that date), developing countries and China have no intention of making reductions. So, overall carbon emissions will not decrease.

    Practically speaking, what will happen is a transfer of emissions from developed to developing countries. Because of increasingly draconian environmental regulation to meet emission targets, and sharply increased energy costs because of artificial energy shortages brought on by cap and trade regulations, remaining manufacturing and other energy intensive functions will be off-shored to regions not under environmental regulation. This will cause persistent economic hardship in the western world, and actually result in a worsened environment, since world manufacturing and energy development will all be taking place in unregulated locales.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    It is a bit of a logical conundrum. Either our politicians don’t believe in global warming (and are liars), or they can’t see the consequences (and are morons). Or perhaps, as I have long suspected, it is an interesting convergence of the two…

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    It is a bit of a logical conundrum. Either our politicians don’t believe in global warming (and are liars), or they can’t see the consequences (and are morons). Or perhaps, as I have long suspected, it is an interesting convergence of the two…

  • Bruce Gee

    The Dutch need to take a long, serious look at the science. It might help them to not be so spooked by all of this.
    Meanwhile, what is the current American administration, which ran on the premise that seas are going to rise, doing about, say, New Orleans? Or…or don’t they believe their own rhetoric either?

    A convergence of lying and idiocy, John? Among politicians??? May it never be.

  • Bruce Gee

    The Dutch need to take a long, serious look at the science. It might help them to not be so spooked by all of this.
    Meanwhile, what is the current American administration, which ran on the premise that seas are going to rise, doing about, say, New Orleans? Or…or don’t they believe their own rhetoric either?

    A convergence of lying and idiocy, John? Among politicians??? May it never be.

  • rlewer

    Buy beach front property in tropical North Dakota. It’s not all bad.

  • rlewer

    Buy beach front property in tropical North Dakota. It’s not all bad.


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