At Issue: Sustainability
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There are two approaches needed for survival, Cicerone said: mitigation and adaptation. To mitigate the damage that’s already been done, we need to find ways to slow the Earth’s heating, primarily by changing our energy production and farming practices.
But the climate change that’s already in motion can’t be stopped, he said, so we will still need to adapt to higher temperatures, altered coastlines, and erratic weather patterns. Scientists are studying ways to develop crops that are heat-, drought- and salt-resistant, build dikes to protect coastal areas, and harness energy produced by the wind and sun.
Cicerone gave a laundry list of approaches we can take to help get us on the road to recovery—everything from decreasing our dependency on foreign oil to minimizing local air pollution to switching to household appliances that consume less energy.
We can’t let ourselves be overwhelmed by the situation, he stressed. Lots of methods may yield only small energy savings, but taken together the improvements can be great.
“People haven’t gotten that message that there is no magic bullet. We have to do a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and we have to do it all very well,” Cicerone said.
by Connie Stambush MFA ’08