By Paulette Cully
Coming across a news article from the BBC about geoengineering to compliment the mitigation of climate change, I was fascinated to read about the almost science-fiction like techniques which have been proposed. These range from (to name just a few) limiting incoming solar radiation through the injection of SO2 (sulphur dioxide) aerosols into the stratosphere to launching giant mirrors into orbit to reflect some of the incoming sunlight away from the Earth. However, some scientists feel that even though the technology is feasible, these measures are inappropriate because no one knows if they will work or even if they will have any adverse effects. In addition, the techniques would only treat the symptoms of climate change, would have a limited impact and would leave the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere for future generations to deal with.
Interested to find out more about responses to climate change, I read the recent journal article in Geography Compass, by Sposito et al who explain that there are two broad categories of reaction to climate change; mitigation and adaptation. Synergistically, mitigation and adaptation activities are essential to maximise the benefits and minimise the costs of responding to climate change. Mitigation has a global benefit and in the main is dedicated to reducing and eventually halting greenhouse gas emissions. However, research indicates that this will not prevent the Earth’s climate from changing within the next few decades. Therefore, adaptation, which acts on the local and regional scale, is important and unavoidable. In their article, Sposito et al describe the adaptation issues which relate to Australian agriculture because it is very susceptible to the adverse impacts of climate change. With major shifts in temperature and rainfall predicted for the future, strategies can be formulated to recognise regions under threat of productivity declines and identify alternative crops better suited to future climatic conditions.
Click here to read Sposito et al , 2010, Adaptation to climate change in regional Australia ;A decision-making framework for modelling policy for rural production, Geography Compass, Volume 4, Issue 4, Pages 335-354