Smart Adaption to Climate Change

by David Zilberman

Nature does not pay attention to politicians that deny climate change for self-interest or other reasons. The increasing likelihood of extreme weather as well as slow rising temperature in many regions that we are witnessing are evidences that something is happening and we need to both mitigate climate change and adapt to it. I have studied this topic extensively and found that adaptation may have multiple dimensions. First, we need to develop both physical infrastructure and new institutions that can enhance resilience and expand insurance against extreme events. The infrastructure may include better road and transportation system that will enable evacuating or supporting locations that are hit by crisis. We need to develop redundancies of production systems and supply chain that will allow us to overcome damages to sources of essential goods and supplies. We need to develop more diversified farming systems that contain elements that can survive under drastic changes in conditions. We need to continue to invest in research and development to develop new technological and institutional innovations and to develop mechanisms to facilitate adoption of new and existing practices in response to changing conditions. We also have to recognize that sometimes adaptation may require migration and relocation of people, and probably the biggest challenge is to develop mechanism that will allow peaceful transition of individuals and communities away from vulnerable locations to new locations where they will be given new opportunities.

These proposed solutions are hardly implemented in reality. We finished a large study that resulted in a book on Climate Smart Agriculture, and I realized that some degrees of adaption occurred in regions in Africa and the rest of the world, but much more needs to be done. Design of smart policies needs to recognize that climate change is one of the several crucial challenges facing developing countries including food security, health and education deficiencies, unemployment and poor infrastructure. Thus, we need solutions and implementation strategies that aim to address several challenges simultaneously. These strategies need to take advantage of the most advanced yet feasible knowledge and inspire collaboration between nations and between private and public sectors. One of the challenges of College of Natural Resources at Berkeley, Beahrs ELP and our alumni network in particular, is to contribute to the development, implementation and dissemination of feasible adaption strategies to climate change and to raise awareness of the crucial importance of investing in solutions and capabilities that will enhance resiliency and capacities to reduce and withstand global changes.