The New Green: Think globally, act locally: CIMA addresses adaptations
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013 23:03
Last year, a collaborative team of UConn faculty, staff, students and town residents organized the first Climate Mitigation and Adaptation (CIMA) Week, a week-long series of inspiring speakers and motivational events that outlined how communities all over the world are addressing climate change and what we can do locally. This year CIMA 2, titled “Our Environment: A Dialogue on Change” will take place from April 15th-22nd, and the event is taking an exciting new spin by focusing this week on “teach-in.” The CIMA organizing team will be providing any interested faculty members with instructional materials so that they can incorporate environmental issues into their lectures (any interested faculty members should sign up for the teach-in on the EcoHusky website. In addition to environmentally-themed lectures, CIMA 2 will also feature special events throughout the month of April including a Humanities Institute Day, a Coastal Perspectives Lecture Series, a national screening of “The Island President,” the annual Spring Fling on Fairfield Way and many more.
It has never been more important for students to consider how they will cope with climate change in the near future. The most recent scientific literature on climate paints an increasingly dire picture – significant studies are now finding that the “worst case scenario” in many climate models is the most likely to happen, and that the change will happen much more rapidly than previously predicted. A study described in the November 2012 edition of “Science Magazine,” for example, concluded that we are currently on track with a global temperature increase of eight degrees Fahrenheit, the upper-extreme of predicted change. For perspective, a three degree F increase would make New York City feel like Richmond, Virginia - and an eight degree F increase will make NYC feel like Atlanta, Georgia.
In light of these new findings, it is imperative for communities to begin planning for climate mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation means lessening our impact on the earth’s natural systems, it describes many of the environmental efforts that we have become familiar with over the last 50 years or so – decreasing our greenhouse gas emissions, eliminating pollution, cutting down on waste, etc. Adaptation is a new concept for many people, and some may find it somewhat alarming – it is simply the realistic observation that no matter what we do at this point, the climate is going to change, and probably drastically. Adaptation measures do not attempt to stop climate change, but instead focus on how our modern societies can withstand it. Adaptive measures may include building sea walls and erosion buffers against storms, preparing hospitals and shelters to accommodate massive heat waves, reducing water consumption, and so on. The key principle is that we must have both – without adaptation, we would not be ensuring our own comfort or survival in the near future, and without mitigation, we would be denying ourselves a long-term future in which we can live on the earth harmoniously.