Effective adaptation efforts can also mitigate the causes of climate disruption. For example, as we use passive design and construction practices to help heat and cool our houses, or demand more organically grown local food, we also reduce energy demand and use of the fossil fuels and petrochemicals that cause global warming.
The third key word is resiliency—the ability to recover from adverse events. In the context of climate change, we will build our resiliency by educating ourselves and becoming proactive, and by calling upon our greatest human asset, our ability to bring creativity and innovation to our problem-solving efforts.
What we eat, what we buy, who we vote for and what policies those leaders enact, our choices determine what kind of life we live now and how future generations will fare. Our predicament is the unfortunate cumulative result of millions of incremental choices as well as regressive energy policy. The answers to the problem are also cumulative—small personal choices day by day, and big policy choices demanded boldly and implemented robustly. We will not get there by sitting on the fence or cowering in despair.
[For more on the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, see environment.yale.edu/climate-communication]