Climate Terms Explained: Adaptation and Mitigation
If you’re in Africa and want to travel to Europe, there are two routes you can use to get to your destination: the short route and the long route. While the short route would involve taking a direct flight from Africa to Europe, the long route would involve flying to America then boarding another plane from America to Europe. This is a clear explanation of the two climate terms: adaptation and mitigation. In the context of climate, they can simply be looked as two different avenues that head to the same destination. Adaptation involves making changes in preparation for and negation of the climate change effects. On the other hand, mitigation works to reduce or weaken man-made causes of climate change.
Burning of fossil fuels and deforestation are some of the activities that cause climate change. Activities like afforestation, land reclamation, waste management, and other practices that aim to counteract the blanketing effect of GHG emissions constitute mitigation actions. In addition to preventing global warming, these mitigation activities lead to reduced health care costs, quality air, and enhanced energy efficiency.
Adaptation can occur in response to an event or in anticipation of it, and it involves making certain adjustments through individual reactions or public body reactions. Typically, adaptation policies target specific risks posed by climate change to an economic sector or a geographical area. For example, increased rainfall does not affect higher-ground areas the same way it affects lower-ground settlements. Hence, adaptation policies vary from one area and sector to another.
What is the Relationship Between the Two?
Although adaptation and mitigation tend not to be mutually exclusive, they affect one another when it comes to dealing with climate change. For instance, if mitigation is effectively applied, it can reduce any needed adaptation. This seems to justify why climate remediation projects tend to adopt a single strategy (either adaptation or mitigation).