A warmer planet needs cool-headed adaption

Just for a moment, let’s set aside the war over “global warming.” Whether you blame humans, cows, the sun, the natural cycles of the earth, or hot air from politicians for the planet’s temperature, let’s just look at the options we have for responding to a changing climate.

The first option is to try and stop or slow climate change.

But that is a futile task, despite the many well-intentioned efforts to accomplish it. The climate over time has changed and will continue to change, regardless of what mankind does or does not do. To put it differently, if mankind stopped emitting all pollution tomorrow, the climate would continue to change, and it would do so long after all the current human-caused environmental pollution dissipated. Grand efforts to stop or slow climate change amount to a modern Maginot Line: a waste of time and work and lots and lots of money.

Of course, reducing pollution benefits everyone’s health, which is why almost everyone, conservatives included, supports reasonable environmental regulations. But trying to bring carbon emissions back to Revolutionary War levels (or 1990 levels, for that matter) is beyond quixotic. Let’s quit throwing money and brainpower down the black hole of carbon caps.

The only option left then is to adapt to a changing climate.

While a new climate will likely have disadvantages, there will almost surely be some advantages as well – how could we capitalize on them? Some crops would be harmed by a different climate, but some would thrive, too. We ought to figure out which ones and use them to our advantage. Further, genetically modified crops could be a huge benefit, especially to the inhabitants of poorer nations.

While climate change has challenged mankind in centuries past, forcing migrations and other adaptations, the human race of the past did not have access to modern technology to help them. How could science serve us and help us to meet this challenge? High-tech sea walls along flat coastal areas? Better weather forecasting technology? Other technological innovations that we haven’t even considered yet?

In addition to technology, old-fashioned common sense can help us plan for the future, whatever the earth’s temperature. Government can stop subsidizing homeowners who build in areas with obviously high risk for flooding. American homebuilders can return to building houses that use good design (in addition to air conditioning as needed) to help keep the inhabitants cooler.

Regardless of what you think about the causes of change to Earth’s always-changing climate, being realistic and learning to adapt, rather than trying to turn back the clock, is the best way forward.