Home Science Current adaptation measures do not reduce the risks of the climate crisis

Current adaptation measures do not reduce the risks of the climate crisis

Current adaptation measures do not reduce the risks of the climate crisis

It is a reality, society is already experiencing the effects of environmental stress what causes the climate change increasingly frequent and serious. At the same time, little progress is being made in reducing carbon emissions. What can be done in this scenario? The science is clear, adapt or die.

However, an international network of 126 male and female experts published a study in Nature Communications where they warn that the measures of adaptation taken around the world do not lead to the goals we need to secure our future. Therefore, the risk posed by the climate crisis is not reduced.

The conclusions are clear, adaptation actions, as documented in the scientific literature, are mostly fragmented, local and non-transforming. Furthermore, they are carried out mainly by individuals and in families, rather than being comprehensive, coordinated and coherent efforts by communities and institutions.

Today, adaptation measures are fragmented, local and non-transforming.

However, experts from the Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF), who participate in this work, show that there are examples of adaptation actions that work. Experts insist that they should be implemented by competent administrations on a larger scale, to strongly promote adaptation and reduction of vulnerability.

The study analyzes more than 48,000 articles published around the world, where 1,686 results of adaptation measures to climate change are presented. With them, the team analyzed what actions we really took to adapt and whether they were successful or not.

The work finds very little evidence that current adaptation efforts actually reduce risk.

Its main author, Lea Berrang Ford, of Priestley International Center for Climate at the University of Leeds, explains: “Our results are a wake-up call, we found very little evidence that humanity is generally prepared, quickly and on a sufficient scale to, in our opinion, avoid serious climate impacts.”

“The publication of the article is very timely, right at the beginning of the Glasgow Climate Summit (COP26) O Paris Agreement It forces COP participants to monitor how society and governments are moving towards adaptation, but until this study little was known about the real scope of adaptation measures”, he comments. Josep Peñuelas, Research Professor at the Superior Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) in CREAF.

We found very little evidence that humanity is generally prepared quickly and on a sufficient scale to avoid severe climate impacts.

Lea Berrang Ford, lead author

What climate risks move us?

The research determines that many adaptation actions arise motivated by specific dangers in each area of ​​the world: dry, extreme rain, floods, wave precipitation variabilityhave been the most frequent examples.

The actions are mainly aimed at the implementation new forms of agriculture and food systems (especially in Africa and Asia), in the obligation to prepare infrastructure for flooding, both inland and on the coast, in the application of new building codes or in the development of hazard maps and warning systems. early warning (especially in Europe).

In cities around the world, floods and Rising sea level they are promoters of adaptation measures. finally, the extreme heat it is a very common factor to which adaptation measures are taken in most regions of the world.

Some of the measures taken are: new forms of agriculture, flood infrastructure and early warning systems

The study concludes that responses occur at various levels of social organization, from farmers to urban households, from water, electricity, transport companies and international institutions. However, the vast majority of responses documented in academic literature are carried out at the local level, and almost always in houses and by individuals in particular (82% of all articles).

Household or individual responses focus on food, health and poverty measures, especially in Africa and Asia. For example, studies in Ghana and Uganda show measures to deal with drought that include from crop changes, even the migration of people. Other local actions are focused on education, urban agriculture, water reservoirs or tourism adaptation.

Diana Pascual and Anabel Sanchez, CREAF scientists reflect on the results: “Adaptation measures generally have a local implementation scope and, in fact, are more effective that way. However, it is true that regional and national strategies would have to be proposed to promote adaptation actions to many more places, and to generalize their use so that the effects could be seen on larger scales”.


Berrang-Ford et al. A systematic global inventory of evidence on human adaptation to climate change. Nature Communications 2021.

Rights: Creative Commons.


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