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The mainstream media as well as other scientific sectors frequently address climate change and human adaptation to it. One of the biggest environmental challenges of the 21st century and one of the most pressing problems is climate change. The world’s climate varies from decade to decade, and a changing climate is normal and to be expected. The vast human industrial and development activities of the past two centuries have also raised legitimate concerns that they may have led to modifications that go beyond natural variation. 

Climate change is defined by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a change in the climate that may be detected over an extended period of time, usually decades or longer, by changes in the mean and/or variable properties. Natural internal processes, external forcings, or enduring manmade changes in the atmosphere’s composition or in land use can all contribute to climate change. In Article 1 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), climate change is defined as a change in the climate that is directly or indirectly attributable to human activity that modifies the composition of the global atmosphere in addition to natural climate variability seen over comparable periods.

The causes of climate change

Energy from the sun powers the global climate system. The planet warms as a result of several gases in the atmosphere acting to trap the solar energy. The greenhouse effect is the result, and these gases are referred to as greenhouse gases. On Earth, there wouldn’t be any life without this process. The combustion of fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas) and the clearing of forests are two activities that have increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the past 200 years. This is probably going to result in more solar energy being trapped, which will then cause the amplified greenhouse effect, which warms the earth’s surface.

Increasing vulnerability through climate change 

Globally, the effects of climate change are extensive. Certain regions of the world will experience an increase in natural deforestation, a rise in sea levels, and declining agricultural levels as a result of climate change. Weather patterns are further impacted by climate change, which may lead to an increase in cyclone frequency and intensity. There will also be an impact on various surface water resources, which could result in conflict and a higher risk of disease. All of the aforementioned factors increase vulnerability in already vulnerable communities

Climate change and disaster risk

Understanding how climate change affects the likelihood of disasters is crucial. The threat of climate change should not be considered in and of itself. Instead, the Earth’s cycles and climatic patterns are affected by climate change, which causes an increase in the frequency and power of many natural hazards. As a result, climate change influences disaster risk through increasing weather and climatic dangers as well as a community’s susceptibility to these natural disasters. The latter occurs as a result of altered livelihoods, decreased access to food and water, and ecological damage. 

Climate change adds extra stress that will significantly lessen a community’s ability to deal with existing climate dangers in addition to environmental degradation and rapid, unplanned urban growth. However, some “beneficial” effects of climate change could include longer growing seasons and a decline in wintertime natural mortality. It is crucial to address communities’ susceptibility because the potential of future climate extremes increasing raises concern that they will become more frequent or larger in scope.

Climate change adaptation 

A reasonable question to ask is: How can this issue be turned around?

There are many different viewpoints and pieces of scientific evidence that either support the idea that the current process is irreversible or that there is still time for humanity to act to stop climate change. To discuss disaster risk reduction in relation to climate change, considering the “precautionary principle,” which is associated with climate change adaptation, is necessary. The Precautionary Principle is used when the results of our acts are uncertain (or when there is no general agreement on the results of particular actions), unproven by science, or both. This implies that we have a social responsibility to shield the general public from exposure in the event that we have reason to believe that our conduct could cause harm. We should err on the side of caution in the case of climate change. Therefore, it is wiser to take a less dangerous course of action (such as attempting to reduce greenhouse gases) than to do nothing (e.g. having an endless debate on whether we as humans are in actual fact causing climate-related change). 

The human response to the changing climate is called adaptation to climate change. These steps are taken to safeguard livelihoods and lessen vulnerability to climate change. The capacity of humans to adapt to climate change varies considerably around the globe. The most vulnerable to disaster risks are the poorest of the poor, and they are also the ones who will have to bear the brunt of the effects of climate change. Ironically, this group also makes the least contribution to the effects of climate change. 

However, one should not assume that adapting to climate change is anything brand-new or novel. Since the beginning of time, humans have been adjusting to their surroundings naturally. All of the vulnerability domains are impacted by climate change. These areas, which are essential to maintaining life, have the potential to be drastically affected and changed. As a change agent, climate change should therefore be recognized for what it is. Climate change should therefore be taken seriously when developing disaster risk reduction strategies, but not at the expense of completely new human behaviour. Our comprehension of the dangers associated with disasters must take into account climate change and adaptation issues, which are discussed further in our Disaster Risk Reduction & Management (DRRM) course.

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