Adapting to climate change: We’re doing it wrong

Read the full story from Ohio State University.

When it comes to adapting to the effects of climate change, scientists and policymakers are thinking too small, according to a new research review.

The authors argue that society should focus less on how individuals respond to such climate issues as flooding and wildfires and instead figure out what it takes to inspire collective action that will protect humans from climate catastrophes on a much grander scale.

Ohio State University researchers analyzed studies that have been published to date on behavioral adaptation to climate change. They found that most studies have emphasized the psychology behind individual coping strategies in the face of isolated hazards, and came from the point of view of a single household managing their own risk.

“What we know about adaptation has come from a longer history of studying the sorts of things that are getting worse because of climate change,” said Robyn Wilson, lead author of the paper and a professor of risk analysis and decision science in Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources.

“If we want to really adapt to climate change, we’re talking about transformational change that will truly allow society to be resilient in the face of these increasing hazards. We’re focused on the wrong things and solving the wrong problems.”

The research review is published today (Feb. 10, 2020) in the journal Nature Climate Change.

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